Coming back to the Kibbie Dome for Homecoming, the Vandals were looking to awaken from the nightmare that has been the beginning of the season, but couldn’t shake off the demons that have haunted the offense, falling to Louisiana Tech 24-11 on Saturday.
“The outside world is getting frustrated, wanting to see the Vandals have some success,” said Coach Robb Akey to the media following the game. “There’s going to be some rocks getting thrown – there already have been. But as long as we stay united we’ll get this thing where it needs to be. We just need to get ourselves a little spark, get a little momentum rolling and I think we can have some good stuff happen.”
A majority of the frustration being thrown at the Vandals surrounds senior QB Brian Reader. So far this season, Reader has seen his completion percentage continue to drop more and more as his passing has become sloppy with passes going over the heads of receivers, into the hands of defenders, or just into open gaps. Against Louisiana Tech, Reader was 19 for 47 for 244 yards, with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Reader’s 40.4% completion percentage was the lowest of his season and the third time in the first six games of the season that saw him throw complete less than 50% of his passes.
“We just weren’t executing,” said Reader. “I put a lot of blame on myself. The defense did a great job. They made stops. We needed to put points on the board.”
Miscues again caused a lot of the pain as the Vandals were only able to convert two of their 16 3rd down conversions and turned the ball over a total of four times. The often overlooked and completely unused running game did nothing to help this either as it only managed to gain 47 yards on 22 carries.
“Certainly we need to be more productive completing passes,” said Akey. “There is no ifs, ands, or buts about that. We need to score an offensive touchdown in regulation. That hasn’t happened in two weeks now. I’m painfully aware of those things.”
Despite giving up 353 yards to a very young and feisty Bulldog team, the Vandals actually showed some flair on defense. The first points of the game for Idaho actually came thanks to Andre Ferguson, who tackled La-Tech RB Lennon Creer in the end zone to force a safety. Idaho actually held La-Tech to three of 16 third down conversions and was able to record five tackles for loss.
“The defense came out hard and we played,” said senior linebacker Korey Toomer. “We executed as much as possible. It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”
The special teams also proved to be a bit livelier than it had in past weeks. In one of the more spectacular plays of the game, WR Justin Veltung did what he does best, returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown late in the game to score Idaho’s final points.
Unfortunately, the day was control by the Bulldogs. True freshmen Nick Isham was 25 for 39 for 163 yards with one touchdown. RB Hunter Lee probably had the biggest game of the day, rushing for 134 yards on 22 carries.
Idaho now falls to 1-5 on the season and will travel to New Mexico State this coming weekend.