MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho has surrendered more than 60 points twice already this football season – at then-No. 3 LSU in September and two weeks later at North Carolina.
Neither of those teams, however, has an offense as prolific as what the Vandals will see up close today in Ruston, La. Nor do they have a receiver as explosive as Quinton Patton.
Idaho (1-6, 1-1) is next in line to try to slow Louisiana Tech (5-1, 0-0), the nation’s top-scoring team. The Western Athletic Conference counterparts meet at Joe Aillet Stadium at 4 p.m. PDT.
Led by third-year coach Sonny Dykes, a Mike Leach disciple, the Bulldogs’ Air Raid offense averages an FBS-best 53.8 points per game. Quarterback Colby Cameron has completed 70 percent of his passes with no interceptions, and LTU has two of the top five rushers in the WAC.
Yet the Bulldogs’ offensive star is Patton, a 6-foot-2 redshirt senior who last week had 21 receptions – the most by any receiver in the nation this year.
“He had crazy numbers and (he’s) a great athlete,” Idaho cornerback Aaron Grymes said. “But that’s what game plans are for. That’s what we practice on all week.
“Every good player has a weakness, so we’re going to try to find that weakness in him. It’s not going to be a big one. … So we just have to try to find it and execute.”
Last year LTU left Moscow with a 24-11 victory, the first of seven straight wins that catapulted the Bulldogs to their first conference title since 2001. They’re favored to repeat as WAC champions.
UI’s bruising defense left an impression on Dykes last season.
“Their defense just manhandled our offense, really,” Dykes said. “They are big up front, big on the back end. They are always physical.”
The Vandals have been far less physical this season than what Robb Akey would like to see. The coach pointed to UI’s lackluster tackling in a 38-7 loss last week at Texas State as a prime example.
“We were settling for guys, anticipating moves or whatever we were doing instead of running through guys and hitting them,” Akey said. “If you go specifically to the Louisiana Tech game last year, that’s where a lot of (good) things got created.”