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Strong Defense Helps Vandals Earn Winning Season By Gary Lundgren Photographs by Bob Bain

" We will be a heck of a football team ," said head football Coach Jerry Davitch before his Idaho Vandals started their 1980 season. When the season was over, the Vandals had a 6-5 overall season record - their first winning season since 1976, and it was obvious that Davitch 's pre-season observations were accurate. The young team had only 11 seniors on the 91 player roster. " We are better in 18 of the 22 starting positions from a year ago," said Coach Davitch. The Vandals finished with a 4-7 record last season. At quarterback, the Vandals have had some problems the past few years; however, Ken Hobart, a first year collegiate football player, performed like a veteran. An outstanding defense helped the Vandals ach ieve their winning season. " We haven 't had a rea l strong defense the past two seasons," said Davitch, " is defense surprised some people." Early in the season the Big Sky sports writers watched the eight teams practice, and picked the Vandals to finish in sixth place in the race for the conference crown. By the end of the season, the Vandals made liars out of the sports writers. The Vandals defeated Montana, Montana State, Weber State, and Northern Arizona to fall just short of second place. The Vandals dropped their season opener to the University of Pacific Tigers, 24-13, in a game played in Stockton, California. The game marked the debut of sophomore quarterback Ken Hobart, who stuck mainly to a ground game until the fourth quarter. In fact, Hobart passed only once in the first half; however, he finished the game with 99 yards through the air, including a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Coombs in the


fourth quarter. He also scored on a 70 yard interception return by right cornerback Carlton McBride in the second quarter. " After looking at the films, it was reaffirmed just how well Ken Hobart played in his first collegiate game as a quarterback, as did running back Russell Davis and tight end Tom Coombs," said Davitch. Idaho returned to the Kibbie Dome for their home opener and smashed Simon Fraser 56-16, in a game dedicated to Vandal running back Glenn White, Idaho's leading rusher last season, who died of a blood disease on August 9. After a slow first quarter, Idaho

1981 Gem of the Mountains, Volume 79 - University of Idaho Yearbook