Vandals already facing some must-win games

RB Princeton McCarty gained 90 yards at Virginia

THIS WEEKEND IS HOMECOMING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO and the Vandals (1-4, 0-1 WAC) are set to host Louisiana Tech (1-4, 0-1 WAC) in the Dome (2:00pm PST kickoff). Both teams are looking to rebound from losses last week, with Idaho falling 21-20 in OT at Virginia, while the Bulldogs were beaten 44-26 at home by Hawaii. The game is a "must win" for both programs to keep their bowl hopes alive.

INSIDE SLANT

The Vandals are going to need a happy homecoming if there season has a chance to have a happy ending.

Idaho (1-4 overall, 0-1 WAC) plays Louisiana Tech on Oct. 8 in the Kibbie Dome. It's as close to a must-win game as a team can have midway through the season as a loss to the Bulldogs would all but kill Idaho's chances for a WAC championship and seriously jeopardize the team's bowl hopes.

With seven games left, coach Robb Akey's squad has three home games (Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and Utah State) and four road games (New Mexico State, San Jose State, BYU and Nevada). Idaho can afford to lose only two games to reach its goal of six wins and bowl eligibility.

The Vandals are hoping an overtime loss to Virginia will serve as a motivator for the rest of the season, starting with this week's homecoming contest. Tech defeated Idaho last season, so there also is a mode of revenge in Moscow, too.

Idaho will need to play one of its better games to topple Tech, which has given Idaho fits on offense in recent years.


NOTES, QUOTES

--The Vandals recorded three sacks at Virginia, which is more than the team had in the first four games combined.

--Idaho leads the WAC in turnover margin at plus-.60 per game.

--Brian Reader and Tyrone Novikoff (offense), Tre'Shawn Robinson and Mike Cosgrove (defense) and Tyler Brooks (special teams) are Idaho's captains this season.


SERIES HISTORY: Louisiana Tech leads 4-2 (last meeting, 2010, 48-35 Louisiana Tech).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Idaho ranks 114th (out of 120 FBS teams) in total offense at 294 yards per game. The Vandals are 118th in rushing (74.4 yards per game) and have given up 14 sacks in five games. Those are sure signs that the Vandals need to get better play on the offensive line in both run blocking and pass protection.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Idaho struggles against the pass, ranking 115th nationally at 308.4 yards per game. Some of the issue is coverage, while some can be attributed to the lack of a pass rush. Idaho has just five sacks in five games. The Vandals have been strong in the turnover department, forcing three last week at Virginia.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not sad, we're not disappointed. We're upset, to put it in good language." -- Idaho coach Robb Akey on a 21-20 overtime loss at Virginia.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Louisiana Tech at Idaho, Oct. 8 -- The winner stays alive in the hunt for a WAC title, while the losing team likely will struggle to become bowl eligible.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Vandals will have its pass defense tested against the wide-open attack utilized by Louisiana Tech. Idaho will need to limit running back Lennon Creer and put pressure on the quarterback. Offensively, the Vandals need to control the ball with runs and short passes and convert those drives into points. Winning the turnover battle is paramount.


PLAYERS TO WATCH:

NT Quayshawne Buckley -- The sophomore made his first career start and recorded six tackles, including two for losses and a sack, at Virginia.

RB Princeton McCarty -- The senior led the Vandals in rushing for the third game in a row, amassing 90 yards in a loss at Virginia.

P Bobby Cowan -- He averaged 51.2 yards on nine punts against Virginia, including a 76-yarder.


ROSTER REPORT

--RB Ryan Bass (undisclosed injury) is probable for the Louisiana Tech game.

--G Jordan Johnson (ankle) is probable for the Louisiana Tech game.

--WR Preston Davis (foot) is questionable for the Louisiana Tech game.

--DT Michael Cosgrove (groin) is questionable for the Louisiana Tech game.



GoVandals.net Recommended Stories