POCATELLO - Panic hasn't set in yet, but the Idaho State football program is displaying a greater sense of urgency this week. It comes at a good time as the next few weeks will be crucial to ISU's fate.
The Bengals (0-5, 0-2 Big Sky) are at Sacramento State today (3 p.m.). For the first time in weeks, they aren't playing a team that's ranked in a national poll. ISU's only victory in the last 17 games - and lone win of 2008 - came over the Hornets (1-3, 1-1) last November.
Asked about his team's mental state after a 0-5 start, ISU head coach John Zamberlin said, "I addressed the team on that point. I told them that this is no different than what you're going to go through in life. You are going to have some tough times.
"The question is do you give in or keep fighting? I think the team is in good shape here, they're still playing hard."
The other issue is the staggering amount of injuries that have hit the program in recent weeks. The Bengals have lost 47 man games, with key injuries on the offensive line and at running back.
"I can't explain that," Zamberlin said of the injuries. "I don't have an answer for that. It's just one of those things. It's football - a game where you have collisions on every play."
This week, ISU lost Jake Rouser, a defensive end, to a torn ACL. Starting quarterback Kyle Blum is probably out today after suffering a concussion. Russel Hill will start in his place. Minico product Skylar Morgan will play today with protection around his rib cage area, protecting a possible fractured rib suffered against Eastern Washington.
The Hornets are coming off a big win, 31-14 at Portland State, and are seeking revenge on the Bengals.
"They remember what happened last year here at Holt Arena," said Zamberlin.
While Sacramento State is far from flashy on offense, Zamberlin said they are dangerous.
"Their quarterback (Jason Smith) is very solid. He doesn't have a gun for an arm but he's accurate," he said. "They have a big wide receiver (John Hendershott) and a smaller running back (Terrance Dailey) who both got over a hundred yards last week and we have to keep them in check.
"The thing about Sac State is that they didn't hurt themselves last week. They ran what they ran and did it well, then they took some shots when they got into Portland's territory. They won't beat themselves."