Game recap: Eastern Washington 20, Idaho 3

1 Sep

The words that can be used to describe Idaho’s 20-3 season-opening loss to Eastern Washington range from poor to pathetic. It was a tale of two sides of the ball for a Vandals team that was without their starting QB Dominique Blackman, which in turn led to a lack of any offense.

Here is our game overview with quotes from coach Robb Akey, QB Logan Bushnell and LB Homer Mauga. Also below the jump is stats and analysis of the game.

Philip Vukelich | Argonaut
Senior quarterback Logan Bushnell delivers a pass as he is pressured from the Eastern Washington University defensive line Thursday in the Kibbie Dome. Bushnell, Idaho’s second-string quarterback, started the game after Dominique Blackman did not play for unspecified reasons.

When Idaho realized it would be without a conference during the 2013 football season, cries for the Big Sky rang loud and clear on the Palouse.

Those cries won’t die out until Idaho announces its conference fate, especially after the Vandal football team blew a chance to prove itself in their 2012 home-opener, losing to Big Sky opponent Eastern Washington20-3 Thursday in the Kibbie Dome. 

Vandal senior Logan Bushnell got the start at quarterback after it had been rumored early in the week that announced starter Dominique Blackman would not be under center during the season-opener.

The talk during fall camp had been the quarterback battle between Blackman and junior Taylor Davis, who also started out on the sideline Thursday.

“He was our back-up quarterback, our two started the game,” Coach Robb Akey said.

However, Akey was adamant Blackman is the Vandals’ season starter and will play in next week’s game.

The reasons for Blackman’s absence were undisclosed by Akey.

 

“That’s between he and I and it will stay between he and I,” Akey said. “He wasn’t available to play and didn’t play. He is our starting quarterback and will start next week.”

Idaho’s run game started out sluggish, but under the command of its walk-on quarterback, the pass game got off the ground quickly when Bushnell found junior Najee Lovett for 66 yards down the right sideline.

Though the offense couldn’t finish out the drive, Idaho and senior kicker Trey Farquhar managed to score on a 27-yard field goal.

The inability to click offensively became a theme for the Vandals.

“Here and there we would start going, we would third down couldn’t convert at times,” Bushnell said. “We didn’t get it going soon enough and it wasn’t good enough offensive production.”

The Eagles matched with a field goal of their own on the ensuing drive, which was sparked by a 58-yard bomb from EWU quarterback Kyle Padron. Jimmy Pavel converted a 34-yard field goal to tie the game.

Eastern did find the end zone early in the second as Padron and FCS All-American receiver Nicholas Edwards connected for 33 yards before the SMU transfer hit freshman tight end Jake Withnell on a slant for Withnell’s first collegiate reception and an Eagles touchdown.

Doing anything and everything possible to stop the flow of Padron, the experienced Vandal linebackers picked up the slack and senior Homer Mauga intercepted the EWU gunslinger early in the second quarter.

Though Padron went for more than 180 first half yards, the junior was a lowly 9-22. Still, EWU led 10-3 after a defense-dominated first half.

Bushnell’s inexperience was evident throughout the third quarter and a diving Ronald Baines picked off the Vandal starter Idaho 20-yard line, ultimately leading to another EWU field goal, which put the visitors up 13-3.

The Idaho defense finally proved vulnerable, allowing the Eagles to drive 78 yards in six and a half minutes. Eagles running back Quincy Forte accounted for four carries on the drive and on the fifth, the sophomore from Fairfield, Calif., followed his blockers and bowled into the end zone from two yards out.

Meanwhile, the hosts rush game was inexistent and collectively, Idaho rushed for 73 yardson 28 carries with a long run of seven yards.

All was over midway through the fourth, but when Davis finally entered the game, he had completed six passes before Najee Lovett fumbled the ball in Eagle territory.

In his first ever start Bushnell was 10-24 with 123 yards and one interception. Padron was just 13-33 but threw for 260 yards.

EWU’s three FCS All-American wide receivers combined for 238 yards.  Of that group, Brandon Kaufman led with 148 yards.

“The QB was playing real smart as far as I saw,” Mauga said. “His main point was just trying to get the ball out as soon as possible, I believe we did a good job.”

For the third time in four years, Idaho will meet Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference. The two met in a 2009 Humanitarian Bowl win for Idaho and again last season, when Bowling Green edged the Vandals in Moscow.

The rubber match of the Vandals-Falcons series will take place at Perry Doyt Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. PT.

“We will get back here and get back to work.,” Akey said. “We lost to a good football team, they played better than we did. They did well, we didn’t do as well.”

STATS

Team Totals  EWU  IDAHO 
FIRST DOWNS  17  10 
   Rushing 
   Passing  10 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  152  73 
   Rushing Attempts  40  28 
   Average Per Rush  3.8  2.6 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  158  90 
   Yards Lost Rushing  17 
NET YARDS PASSING  260  164 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  13-33-1  16-32-1 
   Average Per Attempt  7.9  5.1 
   Average Per Completion  20.0  10.2 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  412  237 
   Total offense plays  73  60 
   Average Gain Per Play  5.6  4.0 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  1-0  2-1 
Penalties: Number-Yards  13-70  7-52 
PUNTS-YARDS  6-257  9-328 
   Average Yards Per Punt  42.8  36.4 
   Net Yards Per Punt  32.8  36.6 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  5-325  2-135 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  65.0  67.5 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  45.0  47.5 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  2–1-0  0-0-0 
   Average Per Return  -0.5  0.0 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
   Average Per Return  0.0  0.0 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  1-0-0  1-2-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Miscellaneous Yards 
Possession Time  31:53  28:07 
   1st Quarter  6:14  8:46 
   2nd Quarter  7:23  7:37 
   3rd Quarter  8:38  6:22 
   4th Quarter  9:38  5:22 
Third-Down Conversions  7 of 16  2 of 15 
Fourth-Down Conversions  0 of 1  2 of 2 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  4-4  1-1 
   Touchdowns  2-4  0-1 
   Field goals  2-4  1-1 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  2-14  0-0 
PAT Kicks  2-2  0-0 
Field Goals  2-2  1-1 

GRADES

QB’s — C, Backup Logan Bushnell played all but the last drive in Thursday’s game against the Eagles, and to be fair to the senior he didn’t play that poorly — in the first half that is. Bushnell went into halftime completing seven of 14 passes for no TD’s or picks. The problem is that first-time offensive coordinator Jason Gesser needed to dumb down the offense for Bushnell. His one interception was not his fault as his arm hit a defenders helmet, taking the sting out of the ball. It was clear that Blackman was needed.

RB’s — B-, Probably the best group on the offensive side of the ball, Ryan Bass and James baker showed flashes of illusiveness and power while both averaged around four yards a carry. Needed that one big play or burst though. Also would have liked to see speedster Todd Handley.

WR’s — C-, Too many dropped balls, poor route running and too tight to the sidelines hurt Bushnell. Had the team rum more of the short, quick offense we’ve seen in practice all fall, they would have been better off. Najee Lovett is the one bright spot catching eight balls for over 100 yards. Mike Scott on the other hand was silent.

OL — D+, To be honest, as problems came from the experienced side of Jordan Johnson and Spencer Beale as on the side of RS Fr. Cody Elenz and Dallas Sandberg. Center Mike Marboe had a solid game, but too much pressure on Bushnell in the second half. Decent gaps for running plays.

DL — B-, The mix of five and six linemen got great pressure on EWU QB Kyle Padron, but just couldn’t drag the shifty QB down. Multiple hits on Padron though that had to have disturbed him. Needed to be better on EWU’s last TD drive though where the Eagles just ran the ball down their throat and into the end zone.

LB — B, Whether it was in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense the mix of Mauga, Conrad Scheidt, Rob Siavii and Su’a Tuala got pressure on the EWU line, dropped back and cover well in the pass game and just overall made Eastern a little uncomfortable. Would have liked to see transfer Matt Willis in at MIKE LB during the EWU run spell.

Secondary — C-, CB’s Aaron Grymes and Tracey Carter looked dazed and confused on EWU deep balls, and struggled against the height of the Eagles receivers. Safety’s Gary Walker, Trey Williams and Thaad Thompson didn’t provide help over the top, but were there to make the last tackles on numerous situations.

Special Teams — B-, Punter Bobby Cowan was not the normal Bobby Cowan. The All-American averaged 35 yards per punt, well less than last year’s average, maybe it’ first game jitters? Kicker Trey Farquhar hit his one FG attempt, scoring all of Idaho’s points. Farquhar also hit his two kickoff’s into the end zone for touchbacks.

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