Four losses in five games to finish the season definitely leaves a bad taste. That was the universal reaction by the Vandals after their 52-49 loss to Utah State yesterday. But there was plenty more that deserves some attention.
We’ve got lots of links, postgame comments and thoughts about the Vandals’ bowl future below the link.
Here’s a quick perusal of the stories written about Idaho’s regular season finale. You can read my game story in the SR here, the Lewiston Tribune has this story and notebook, the Idaho Statesman has this write-up and the Deseret News has this gamer.
The vibe was definitely mixed after the game from the Vandals’ perspective. On one hand, they completed an improbable turnaround but Saturday’s loss once again exposed the defensive weaknesses and shakiness of the offense with Nathan Enderle out. As for the quarterback’s injury, coach Robb Akey said, “I think it’s his shoulder. … Not bad as last time, how long I don’t know but he wasn’t able to finish today.”
The question is, will Enderle (if healthy) have another game to play this season? A bowl game, even after losing the last three games, seems likely. As Jesse Baumgartner of the Lewisotn Tribune reported, the WAC has the option to use its backup agreement with GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala, since the ACC doesn’t have nine eligible teams. That leaves four options for the WAC with four bowl-eligible teams at this point. And even if Hawaii were to beat Wisconsin next week to finish 7-6 and reach the Hawaii Bowl, Boise State’s BCS hopes got a huge lift yesterday with Oklahoma State’s loss to Oklahoma.
“I would like to believe we’ll most likely are going to get an opportunity to do it one more time together,” Akey said, before adding, “We better remember how bad this hurt today so we do be fortunate enough to get that opportunity and go to a bowl that we make sure we end it the way that we want to and we don’t walk out of that bowl stadium feeling the way we do today.”
Here are some other quotes of note:
The Vandals are guaranteed a fourth-place finish in the WAC. Their loss to Utah State was the only one this season against a team that placed below them in the standings. … Max Komar finished with 1,036 receiving yards this season. That’s good for second in the WAC behind Hawaii’s Greg Salas. … UI finishes the regular season with the nation’s 11th-ranked passing offense. The defensive national rankings: 77th against the run, 114th against the pass. UI gave up 304 points in eight conference games, the worst in the WAC. Utah State was second-worst, yielding 266 points.