The Front Row with MARK NELKE Sept. 20, 2012 - Coeur d'Alene Press: Sports

The Front Row with MARK NELKE Sept. 20, 2012

What we have learned so far

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Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:52 am, Wed Sep 26, 2012.

* Idaho might be the most optimistic 0-3 football team in the country.

Each week the Vandals have gotten a little better, going from a deplorable performance in the opener vs. Eastern Washington to a respectable showing at Bowling Green to an eye-opening effort last week at LSU - at least until the Tigers said that was enough and scored the game's last 42 points in a 63-14 victory.

If they keep up that improvement, the Vandals might post victory No. 1 this Saturday, when 0-3 Wyoming visits the Kibbie Dome. But if not, Idaho will pack for next week's trip to North Carolina staring at the likelihood of an 0-5 start heading into Western Athletic Conference play.

* Not sure what to make of the Cougs yet. They've had to withstand Hail Mary passes in the last two weeks of victories over Eastern Washington and UNLV. EWU was expected to be a tough game, but UNLV was coming off a home loss to Northern Arizona and is now 0-3 - with all three losses at home.

Still, 2-1 is 2-1, especially from a WSU program in which wins have been scarce in recent years. And lowly Colorado and its 0-3 record comes to town this Saturday, fresh off a 69-14 pummeling at the hands of Fresno State.

* Funny thing about Coeur d'Alene High. If the Vikings had scheduled a mere mortal team instead of Skyline of Sammamish, Wash., last week, Coeur d'Alene could be 4-0 and winners of 25 straight heading into Friday's home game with Highland of Pocatello.

Kudos to the Vikings for taking on that game at the Kibbie Dome, and if they grow from the 71-20 spanking, even better, if it helps Coeur d'Alene go on and win a third straight state title.

The Vikings still haven't lost to an Idaho team since 2009, when Eagle came up here and beat the Vikings in the snow in the state 5A semifinals.

* Coach Kandice Gregorak had to replace most of last year's North Idaho College volleyball team which finished ninth at the NJCAA tournament in the program's third straight trip to nationals.

She had to replace a setter she had counted on to return - by moving a hitter into the position.

So far, so good on both fronts.

This week, NIC ascended to the No. 1 ranking in the NJCAA, and the Cardinals' first match as top dog will be tonight, when No. 7 Salt Lake Community College visits in the Scenic West Athletic Conference opener for both teams at 7 p.m. at Christianson Gym.

Kinda too bad they're both happening on the same night, but also tonight, NIC's softball team plays host to NCAA power University of Washington in a fall ball doubleheader at 6 p.m. at Memorial Field.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter at CdAPressSports.

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