On paper, the result is not surprising. The No. 21 ranked team in the country came into the Kibbie Dome and effectively put the game away by the second quarter over a team with four wins in its last 29 games.
Fresno State throttled Idaho 61-14 Saturday at the Kibbie Dome, having a 37-point lead as early as 11:09 left in the second quarter. Idaho coach Paul Petrino still thought it shouldn’t have been that bad.
“We knew that was going to happen at times this year, but it shouldn’t happen this bad,” Petrino said. “That’s what I told (the team). I understood that maybe that team is better than us, but it shouldn’t happen like that.”
Fresno State’s Heisman Trophy contending quarterback, Derek Carr, came out on fire from the start, leading Fresno State on touchdown drives on its first five possessions of the game. It only took two minutes into the second quarter for Carr to have four touchdown passes. His 419-yard performance played the largest part of Fresno State’s 731 total yards of offense.
From the start, the Bulldogs worked the up-tempo no-huddle offense, moving so fast that Idaho had no time to adjust defensively, sub out players or get creative with bringing pressure or mixing up coverage. Carr would step up in the shotgun formation and quickly hit his first or second reads, sometimes only taking two plays to get the offense 50 yards down the field into the red zone.
“It took a little getting used to, but I felt like that wasn’t the main problem,” linebacker Marc Millan said. “(It was) breakdowns in our defense, it was self-inflicted wounds.”
Despite the game being put out of reach well before halftime, Carr wasn’t pulled out of the game heading into the fourth quarter. Controversy sparked when ESPN Radio 940-AM in Fresno tweeted halftime comments from Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter accusing Petrino of directing his defensive players to target Carr.
Petrino shrugged that accusation off after the game, instead talking about his admiration for Derek Carr and the fact that his defense couldn’t touch him anyways. Indeed, Idaho finished the day with zero sacks.
On the other side, Chad Chalich was brought down six times and had his worst game as a Vandal. He came into Saturday having not thrown an interception all season, only to throw three against Fresno State. He finished 14-32 passing for 100 yards and a touchdown to go with his three picks.
He was pulled in the fourth quarter for Idaho to get a look at Josh McCain. McCain was effective in spurts, going 3-8 for 77 yards a touchdown and an interception. Though late in the fourth quarter, he took a hit on the sideline and left with a shoulder injury that Petrino said after the game didn’t look “real good.”
Chalich came in and finished that drive, tossing a 15-yard touchdown pass to James Baker.
His night was concluded by getting sacked on back-to-back plays to end the game, however.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” Petrino said of Chalich’s performance. “He’s a freshman. He had a bad day. We all have to keep improving and get better.”
Idaho hits the road to Sun Belt territory next week, facing future conference opponent Arkansas State. The Red Wolves are 2-3 and coming off of a bye week, presenting a realistic opportunity for Idaho to get back on track.
“We have to go hard starting tomorrow,” wide receiver Dezmon Epps said. “Monday, go hard. All four days of practice, go hard. Don’t make mistakes in practice, you don’t make mistakes during the game.”
Sean Kramer can be reached at email@example.com