Head football coach Rob Phenicie confirmed during last week’s press conference that starting quarterback Tanner Gueller would play in the team’s season-finale this Saturday at Weber State.
Phenicie, who does not disclose injuries to the media, said that Gueller, who missed the second half of Idaho State’s loss to Cal Davis, would be held out of practice during the Bengals bye week.
“UC Davis got us pretty good,” Phenicie said. “I think we are a better team than that… That’s not who we are and really that’s our first one of the season that was like that.”
After coming off its worst conference loss of the season and clinching a losing season for the third year in a row, Phenicie said the team would use the bye week to refocus, heal nagging injuries and get a head start on recruiting.
Prior to the bye week, Idaho State played ten games in a row and will have to do the same thing next season with its bye week coming in week two.
Phenicie said the team got Monday and Friday off from practice last week while the coaches went on recruiting trips over the weekend.
The team returned to practice this last Monday and is gearing up for its toughest conference opponent of the year, a road trip to Weber State, who is ranked ninth nationally. Weber State is one of four teams in the Big Sky who are nationally ranked and will be the only team who is ranked at the time Idaho State played them.
Weber State, who is led by head coach Jay Hill, went 2-10 in 2014 before going 6-5 in Hill’s second season. The Wildcats made the playoffs last year and are in good position for a second straight playoff appearance as a Southern Utah loss and Weber State win on Saturday would give Weber State a share of the conference crown.
“Jay Hill has done a phenomenal job there,” Phenicie said. “He has done it the right way. They look like a good team. It’s almost a model for how to build a program.”
The Wildcats hold an 8-2 overall record and are winners of four straight. The only two losses have been to Cal and Southern Utah, who currently leads the Big Sky with a 6-1 conference record.
Notable wins on the Wildcats schedule include a 25-17 win in Bozeman, a 41-17 home win over Montana and a 28-20 win over Eastern Washington, who was ranked 11th in the country at the time of the game.
The run-heavy offense is headed by an efficient Stefan Cantwell at quarterback, who mans a power offense behind what Phenicie called the best offensive line in the Big Sky.
“They just rollup the sleeves and run power, pound you, and play action pass you,” Phenicie said. “They have a really good tight end and their quarterback is efficient. They are built to do what they do.”
Idaho State, who was picked to finish last by both the media and coaches in the preseason, has already ensured that it will finish the 2017 season with its best record since 2014.
Phenicie, who verbally agreed to a three-year contract extension a few weeks ago, said his team will be ready to play despite the late bye.
“We can still get a third win in conference and end up 5-6, which is a respectable year,” Phenicie said.