Known for its spookiness and haunting nature, October turned into a house of horrors for the Vandals as the losses continued to rack up and Idaho spent the better part of the month in the southeastern part of the country. Returning to the Kibbie Dome today, the Vandals look to take some positive steps forward with the first of a set of favorable games, starting off with an interesting match-up against the Texas State Bobcats.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TEXAS STATE:
On offense, Texas State is very much a run-first team when they have the ball. The Bobcats are averaging 192.3 yards per game, ranking them 42nd in the nation in this regard. Texas State is led on the ground by sophomore back Robert Lowe. So far this season, Lowe has rushed for 708 yards and seven touchdowns and could post big numbers if not contained. Along with Lowe, the Bobcats get good use out of Chris Nutall, who has half as many carries as Lowe, but does have six touchdowns to his name.
Being that running is their primary mode of offensive transportation; their passing attack is a bit on the lacking side. The Bobcats are averaging just 139.8 passing yards a game and are ranked 116th in the nation in this aspect. While QBs Tyler Jones and Tyler Arndt have relatively the same stats, it’s been Jones that has been getting a majority of the playing time lately. Jones posted a career-high 218 passing yards last week against South Alabama, but at the same time, failed to throw for more than 100 yards in the previous three games. His accuracy is also a bit questionable as he has completed less than 50% of his passes in two of three games.
Defensively, the Bobcats give up some points, but not a whole lot. Texas State has allowed an average of 23.6 points per game. The Bobcats have had some pretty big success at stopping the ball though, recording 13 sacks and 10 interceptions so far this year.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR IDAHO:
QB Taylor Davis is set to start for the Vandals and his performance is paramount to Idaho in this game. Davis has been incredibly unpredictable over the course of his career. From his struggles with accuracy to his decision making, Davis is probably the last person that needs to be under center, but he is all Idaho really has. Chad Chalich and Josh McCain are still out (as far as we know), so the Vandals don’t have much left to choose from. To be fair, Davis did have his good moments last week against Ole Miss, but he completed less than half of his passes. If Davis gets a bit turnover happy, the Vandals won’t have a leg to stand on.
Since Davis is a question mark, the run game is going to be very important. RB James Baker and Richard Montgomery should be used heavily in this game as well as Jerrel Brown. Texas State has been pretty successful in the last two games guarding the run, which could force Idaho to go to the air a bit more. Having a successful running game could provide Davis a little more confidence and ensure that the Vandals aren’t playing one-dimensionally. If the run goes flat, the offense could wither under an unproductive day.
Defensively it’s all about stopping the run. As mentioned earlier, Texas State loves to run and will do it often. Closing down the run would force the freshman Jones to pass more and would potentially increase the likelihood of Idaho forcing some turnovers. Texas State destroyed Idaho with the run last season, rushing for 337 yards as the Vandals fell in the only match-up these two teams had as members of the Western Athletic Conference. Locking down the run needs to be the top priority for the defense.
Last year’s match-up between these two teams was a bit hard to watch as Texas State literally ran all over Idaho in what should have been a pretty evenly matched game. On paper for the 2013 version of this match-up, this game really feels like the Temple game did in that Idaho has a good chance of winning. Both teams have defenses that can get at the ball at times and make big plays. These teams also have quarterbacks that struggle to hit the broad side of an aircraft hangar. The Bobcats may have the edge though as their run offense is supremely better than Idaho’s, but thankfully the Vandals have been better this year against the run than in previous years.
Ultimately, it’s going to come down to two things: Davis being productive and Idaho stopping that run. These two agenda items go hand in hand as one will determine the ability of the other. If Davis struggles and either fails to move the ball or turn it over, the defense will be spending way too much time on the field. We have seen in continuously over the past two seasons where the offense has floundered, resulting in the defense getting too exhausted and making mental mistakes. The defense needs to get their rest and Davis will be a major determining factor as to if that will happen.
With the Vandals being in front of the home crowd and playing considerably better in the Kibbie Dome this season (the term “considerably better” is being used loosely here), I think that Idaho will keep this game close and sneak away with a win, potentially on the foot of Austin “Uncle” Rehkow.
NCAA 14 Prediction: Texas State 27 Idaho 17
My Prediction: Idaho 24 Texas State 21