La. Teach report card
The common theme this season with the offense is consistency and getting the pieces to all click at the same time. Quarterback Dominique Blackman hit a low point this season, throwing two interceptions on a 5.7 yards-per-pass average. Idaho was also 0-11 on third down thanks to the offensive line letting pressure in Blackman’s face nearly every play. The offensive isn’t designed to let Blackman sit back in the pocket and go through his reads, and La. Tech was getting pressure in Blackman’s face so quickly that he could hardly make the throws to his first read. No need to bring up the running game, since Idaho going down two touchdowns nearly three minutes into the game prevented Idaho from feeding James Baker the ball too often. Baker ran well, as he has most of the season. Though the statistics hardly show that. Baker is a momentum back, but he can barely get that momentum past the line of scrimmage without holes opening up.
Idaho’s offense is what cost it this game, or prevented it from being closer at least, because of its inability to stay on the field on third downs and needless turnovers. Early on, it looked like Idaho might actually make it entertaining before it slowed on offense. Then again, its first two scores when the game was 21-14 came on a receiver-reverse pass and a kickoff return touchdown.
Receiver Mike Scott had an exceptional game, catching balls over the middle of the field and getting yards after catch. Idaho was never able to capitalize and finish those drives. Jahrie Level had a nice 33-yard gain that set up Idaho’s last touchdown of the night as well.
I’m not going to sit here and rip the Idaho defense, despite the grades. There are very few defenses in the country that could deal with La. Tech’s offense, and most of those defenses sit in the BCS top 15 right now. I’m sure the mentality of the team was that it was going to be a track meet, and when the offensive couldn’t keep up, the defense never had a chance. The first play of the game for the defense happened on the Vandals’ own one-yard line because of a kickoff fumble. This game was what it was for the defense. La. Tech is just that good.
Special teams looked like it was going to be a complete disaster when kick returner Todd Handley fumbled the opening kick-off without even being touched. Two returns later he took it 92 yards to the house to draw the Vandals to within a touchdown. All in all, this was probably the best showing from the return game all season.
As for Cowan, he is so good that it’s becoming almost nonchalant every week from him. He had a long of 57 and averaged 46.3 yards a kick.
Sean Kramer can be reached at email@example.com