Updated: June 8, 2023
Editor’s note: The following is a Q&A between Josh Yuen, sports editor of the Daily Californian, and Seiji Wood, sports editor of The Bengal. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Josh Yuen: Can you talk a little bit about Idaho State’s recent performances, specifically any notable moments that have really stood out?
Seiji Wood: Last year, we got a new coach, coach [Rob] Phenicie. His first year, last season, we did better than we had done in previous years. We only won about four games and lost seven, but that was enough to get him a contract extension for an additional three years. This year we started 1-0, and we beat Western State Colorado University. Off of that, we have a lot of returning players, including Tanner Gueller the quarterback and two returning running backs in Ty Flanagan and James Madison. We also have returning receivers, Michael Dean and Mitch Gueller. I also think three of the five offensive lineman are returners too.
JY: How would you assess the Bengals’ opening win over Western State Colorado University?
SW: The win was expected. Western Colorado is a Division-II team, so us getting a win was obviously something that we should be doing. We were pretty dominant, but there were still some mistakes that we did on special teams and a botched snap. Overall, the offense looked efficient and the defense seemed to be better than it was last year, but it was truly hard to judge the strength of this team for just that opening game.
JY: Is there a particular area of Idaho State’s style of play that truly stands out this season?
SW: Through one game, there’s not too much that stands out. Tanner Gueller made good decisions with the ball, I think he still had one turnover, but he played pretty well. James Madison and Ty Flanagan continued to do well running the ball on the ground, so what we all expected from the offense in week one was what we got. But nothing really stood out to us that we weren’t expecting, if that makes sense.
JY: Who are some playmakers that Cal should be particularly wary of, both on offense and defense?
SW: On offense, if there’s someone to look out for, it’s the two running backs. We kind of have a one-two punch with James Madison and Ty Flanagan. Michael Dean is also a shifty guy who’s quick on the outside, but how they utilize him, that’s just up to the coaches of course. Then there’s always that brother connection with Tanner and Mitch. More than anything though, it’s all about the running backs. Defensively, we have Rasheed Williams, our defensive end who is also one to look out for. Our secondary has Adkin (Aguirre), but our defense wasn’t the greatest last year, to be perfectly honest. We also lost our key player in Mario Jenkins who was a First Team player in the Big Sky conference for us as linebacker. But we lost him, so the defense isn’t completely in a rebuild, but the defense is looking to improve, especially in the secondary.
JY: As an FCS school coming to Berkeley, what does IDSU need to do to generate a potential upset?
SW: They cannot turn the ball over. Tanner needs to protect the ball, and he has a tendency to turn it over, but in recent years he’s done a better job. On the defensive side of the ball, we need to be able to hold up in the secondary, as that was one of our biggest weak points.
JY: Lastly, what is your score prediction for next Saturday?
SW: I haven’t really thought too hard about it, but I’m going to insert a little bit of bias here. I’ll still pick Cal to win, but I’ll go with 35-21.
Josh Yuen is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @joshcal2020.