Idaho State has passed for 297 yards per game or more the past three seasons, and the Bengals lead the nation with an average of 354.8 this season.
But perhaps what’s turned Idaho State from a bottom-feeding team into one competing for the conference title is the addition of a consistent rushing attack.
Junior running back Xavier Finney is just that.
The Oceanside El Camino High product has already broken the program single-season record with his Big Sky-leading 1,235 rushing yards, which ranks sixth in the FCS, and tied the program record with 14 rushing touchdowns, which rank fifth nationally.
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A Bengals player has never led the Big Sky in rushing, and before Finney had 868 yards last season, Idaho State had not had a rusher total more than 288 yards in the previous four seasons.
“It’s pretty evident that Xavier Finney is one of the premier running backs in the United States,” Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer said. “He’s a guy who’s got pretty good instincts, he maximizes his talent and every single carry, he dies hard.”
Finney had a season-high 236 yards against Northern Colorado two weeks ago, and Cal Poly is definitely preparing for the threat he poses.
“They want everybody to play the pass and practice against the pass,” Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh said. “But if they’re able to run the ball, that guy’s dangerous. He’s dangerous to go the distance at any time. It forces you to play the entire game.”