[Vandal] A Win That Should Have Been For Idaho

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Mon Oct 4 09:28:14 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoMonday, October 4, 2021
A Win That Should Have Been For Idaho
Commentary By Stephan Wiebe
The ESPN+ commentators noted during the UC Davis-vs.-Idaho football broadcast Saturday that when a team plays opponents significantly worse or better than itself — like the Vandals did in their first three games — it’s obviously harder to tell where it stands compared to more equal competition.
Idaho’s season up to then went by the script: The Vandals demolished an NCAA Division II adversary and were spanked by their two Football Bowl Subdivision foes.
So it’s really no surprise the No. 8 Aggies went into the game as 20-point favorites. It's also no surprise the Vandals should have left Davis, Calif., with a 1-0 record in Big Sky play.
Instead, UC Davis won 27-20 behind a third-string quarterback who piloted a fourth-quarter rally.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Idaho, mainly because the Vandals led for much of the game and couldn’t turn a late red-zone trip into points.
Petrino’s message to his players after the game? “See how good of a team we really are.”
“That’s the eighth-rated team in the country, and we went toe-to-toe with them,” Petrino said. “There were a bunch of positive things we can get better at, and then there’s a few little things here and there where if we just get better at (them), then we win that game.”
One sequence Petrino and the Vandals probably want to have back is their second-to-last drive of the game.
Coming off an Aggies go-ahead score on a double pass, Idaho drove all the way to the UC Davis red zone with a chance to tie the game in the final five minutes.
But on third-and-7, the Vandals went with a draw play to freshman running back Elisha Cummings that went only 3 yards. Then, trailing by seven, Idaho trotted out the field-goal unit on fourth-and-4 at the Aggies’ 17-yard line. Logan Prescott’s field goal was blocked with 4:14 left on the clock and Idaho never was close to scoring again.
The run play call and the field-goal attempt drew the ire of Vandal fans on social media.
Petrino said after the game the run play was one Cummings had burst for big gains multiple times up to that point and if they’d gotten closer to a first down, they would have gone for it. He said he wanted to take the points so if/when the Vandals got the ball back, they’d be going for the win.
But the field goal was blocked and Idaho’s final drive ended on an interception with 45 seconds left. 
Prescott, who had only attempted one field goal in the first three games, also missed a 37-yarder earlier in the game and had a PAT blocked — seven special teams points that ended up being the difference in the game.
Even bigger than the mistakes, Idaho lost freshman starting quarterback CJ Jordan on the first drive of the game to a shoulder injury. Idaho will learn about its severity early this week, Petrino said.
Even with all the "would've, should’ve, could’ves," there were a multitude of positives.
On defense, Idaho freshman safety Tommy McCormick nabbed an interception just before halftime and the Vandals forced four consecutive Aggies punts to start the second half. Junior linebacker Fa’avae Fa’avae also had a team-high 10 tackles, a big tackle for loss late in the game and almost had an interception.
On offense, Idaho’s run game was on point, led by sophomore quarterback Zach Borisch (82 yards, 2 TDs) and Cummings (125 yards). And sophomore receiver Terez Traynor had a breakout game with 10 catches for 131 yards, including a diving catch near the Aggies’ sideline that forced UC Davis coach Dan Hawkins to use up a challenge.
“We need to take a long look in the mirror, myself included, and we need to come for Portland State — Homecoming game — and be ready to battle,” Fa’avae said. “We let this game slip out of our hands.“No one’s fault but ours.”
Don’t expect the Vandals to be 20-point underdogs to the Vikings this Saturday.
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