Dropping the ball
After falling 20-3 to Eastern Washington last week, Vandal football has got to face the facts. A lot of guys dropped the ball last week, but no one more than the one who should have been under center for the Vandals.
Dominique Blackman’s journey to the starting quarterback gig started prior to the 2009 season, when he signed with Washington. After Huskies’ head coach Ty Willingham was fired, Steve Sarkisian entered the scene demanding that Blackman switch to tight end. The Carson, Calif., product was gone. He spent a year at Los Angeles Harbor College where he had a strong showing that earned him another offer, this time with Old Dominion. After a year on the bench as the Monarchs’ second stringer, he found himself in Moscow where this past Thursday should have been the payoff for all the time he spent.
For reasons coach Robb Akey would not reveal, Blackman didn’t run out with the Vandal offense after the Eagles’ first drive and instead, senior Logan Bushnell, a former walk-on, played and completed a little more than 41 percent of his passes.
The 6-foot-5-inch quarterback who had been named starter just weeks before the season began, and that Vandal fans had paid to see, was absent and so was any sign of life in the Vandal offense.
After a disappointing 2-10 2011 season and their future in jeopardy with the WAC dissolving, the Vandal football team could have used a positive start to the season.
A loss to a non-BCS school and doubts as to why their touted quarterback remained on the sidelines point to another season of dismay and give the program even less credibility as they head to independent status.
As bad as things are for the Vandals, they may be worse for Blackman. To have your first opportunity pass through your fingers after paying your dues and switching schools three times has got to be disappointing.
After NCAA guidelines kept him from playing last season, this was a chance to show not only Vandal fans, but also the schools that let him go what they are missing out on.
Furthermore, this was a chance to show Idaho football coach Robb Akey bringing him here was a gamble worth making. Instead, Akey’s chosen game-one starter threw as many passes last Thursday as the fifth-year head coach did.
When a player is attending his fourth school in four years, there is a clear warning that there may be concerns about the player’s reliability.
The season is still young and Blackman will get a chance to finally step onto the field as a Vandal starter. If he performs well, all will be forgiven — winning football games heals most wounds. If this is a sign of things to come, it’s unfortunate because it could have been a beneficial opportunity for both Blackman and the Vandals.
There may be one more shot at redemption for Idaho’s junior quarterback, but some fans might agree that Blackman’s one and only shot came on Thursday. If he can rise up and achieve victory against Bowling Green, others will forgive him. Earning your fans’ trust may be just as important as winning a game, but if Blackman can do both, the sooner the better.
Jacob Dyer can be reached at email@example.com