A young Idaho team struggled through a 2-10 season last year, going 1-7 in Western Athletic Conference play, and the program hasn't experienced a winning season since 1999. Still, Akey enters the season brimming with enthusiasm for the task ahead.
"I feel like we've gained a tremendous amount in regards to our program," Akey said. "You're going to see a better football team out of the University of Idaho on the field this year."
Akey sees greater depth on this year's team, creating competition at various positions, including quarterback where junior Nathan Enderle is working to hold off transfer Brian Reader.
The Vandals lost three starters off the offensive line, but return 6-foot-6, 330-pound guard Mike Iupati. The senior, who didn't start playing football until high school, when his family moved to California from American Samoa, will try to open holes for running back Deonte' Jackson, Idaho's leading rusher the last two years.
Damien graduate Kama Bailey broke the school's single-season record for kickoff returns with 955 yards.
The Vandals gave up more than 42 points per game last season, ranking last in the conference and 117th in the country. The return of safety Shiloh Keo from a knee injury could help slow the flood of points.