Where do you go from here?
If you were to look at the Vandal football team’s schedule when the season started, 2-2 could have been an accomplishable goal. With Eastern Washington in the home opener, a victory should’ve been a sure thing.
After a disappointing loss in the opener to an FCS foe, and a second tough loss to Bowling Green, the Vandals took their medicine against then No. 3 LSU. At 0-3, Saturday’s game against the Wyoming Cowboys was a chance for the Vandals to salvage a forgettable start, but now they have to be asking where do they go from here?
The difficult thing for the Vandals is it’s not that they were outgunned for at least three of their losses this season, LSU being the exception. There always seems to be a few plays where they have to go back and scratch their heads and try to figure out what happened. In Saturday’s game that play came early in the fourth quarter when the Vandals, once again, found themselves near the goal line and asked their quarterback Dominique Blackman to punch it in rather than hand it off. Why not ask your quarterback to throw the ball?
Blackman felt himself being stopped right in front of the goal line and decided to reach for the end zone, only to have it knocked away. Instead of the Vandals going up by two scores the Cowboys would take the ball the other way to tie things up.
The Vandals can now only look ahead to a season that won’t be forgiving to a 0-4 start that should have been so much more.
Next week’s opponent, the University of North Carolina, isn’t going to be any easier than what they have already faced and a win would be a great but surprising accomplishment at this point.
Looking forward, the Vandals also have another game on Nov. 10 against BYU. A victory in Provo is going to take an astronomical effort.
If the Vandals can’t grasp victory from either of those games, that just leaves six games for the Vandals to try and work their way up to .500 this year.
After a 2-12 season last year, the Vandals didn’t have anywhere to go but up. Unless Idaho coach Robb Akey and his staff can keep up the team’s morale, these losses are going to take their toll.
With all that has gone wrong in the first month of the season, there have been some glimmers of hope for the Vandals. Blackman has proven to be an accurate quarterback the Vandals should rely on. His 34 of 46 completions for 306 yards with three touchdowns have only solidified the coaches’ decision to bring him to Moscow.
Senior Ryan Bass’ 121 yards on the ground against Wyoming is hopefully a sign of things to come.
Even if Bass is able to use Wyoming’s game as a springboard for the remainder of the season and Blackman continues his consistent play that ignores the biggest weakness of this team: the defense.
When your offense goes and puts up 37 and you lose that’s a bad sign, and when you consider 20 points is the fewest your defense has allowed thus far that’s a formula for 0-4 football.
The Vandals can only be as successful as the defense allows them to be, and while this team has faced a lot of peril this year, if you continue to allow points, .500 is a pipedream.
Jacob Dyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org