Before Saturday, the Vandals’ defensive blemishes were always masked by timely turnovers or last-gasp stands. Outside of the Washington game, the Idaho D wasn’t a huge liability. But that all changed this afternoon in Reno — in a big way.
As Robb Akey put it afterward, the Vandals made Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick look like a Heisman Trophy winner. The result: Wolf Pack 70, Idaho 45. And if that weren’t enough, another Vandal had a brush with the law in the past few days — receiver Landon Weaver. You can read more here.
And click below for more on the game.
Nevada’s offensive numbers are surely going to make Vandal fans cringe for a while: 662 total yards, 484 via the ground, 9.1 yards per carry. But believe it or not, there was a time when Idaho looked to have a solid chance to pull an upset. Despite falling behind 21-0, the Vandals showed plenty of moxy in the second quarter and went into the half down 28-24.
But the first few plays of the third quarter were telling. Idaho tried an onside kick out of the gate, a poor attempt that — coupled with an UI offside call — gave Nevada the ball at the Idaho 38. Then on fourth and 7, Kaepernick stepped back as if he were going to pass, sucking in Idaho’s blitzers, and then waltzed through a giant hole en route to a slick 35-yard TD. The Vandals wouldn’t come close to stopping Nevada the rest of the afternoon. The Wolf Pack scored on all six of their second-half possessions, and did so usually in quick fashion. Their longest second-half scoring drive was 4 minutes, 13 seconds.
The onside kick call was certainly a gamble by Akey — something, in fact, that he tried many times last year to try to give Idaho a boost. But the Vandals were on their way to a 2-10 season in 2008. And this time, it failed miserably and set the tone for a tortuous final two periods.
On the flip side, however, the Idaho offense did enough against the Wolf Pack’s porous secondary to hang around for a while. Maurice Shaw hauled in two deep touchdown passes over 70 yards — the last a juggling beauty that sliced Nevada’s lead to 28-21. And Max Komar also had a monstrous game (10 receptions, 136 yards, 3 TDs).
But what hurt was a lack of a ball-control offense. Idaho couldn’t drain the clock like it did so well last week vs. Hawaii because it couldn’t churn out yards consistently on the ground. DeMaundray Woolridge and Princeton McCarty combined for 27 yards on 10 carries. And it didn’t help that the offensive line was leaky early on, allowing Nevada to get four sacks in the Vandals’ first two possessions.
Next up is Lousiana Tech at the Kibbie Dome. The Bulldogs were upset Saturday by Utah State. With how wacky things have been in the middle of the conference this season, it’s hard to predict what will happen Saturday at the Dome. One thing, however, is certain: Robb Akey will be fielding lots of questions about the Vandals’ defense before next weekend.