Idaho (1-1) is coming into Martin Stadium following a 59-14 loss to Washington last Saturday, while WSU (0-2) is trying to rebound from a disappointing loss three-point loss to Boise State.
In its two losses this year, Washington State’s offense started off slow at the beginning of the first and second halves; and in both games they ended up losing by three points in winnable contest. While Idaho doesn’t have the same talent level as Boise State, and would probably lose to Eastern Washington, it’s going to be critical for the Washington State offense to get off to a fast start against the Vandals defense to put the game out of reach early.
Quarterback Luke Falk is going to need to push the ball down field and can’t be so quick to pull the trigger on the check down pass. Against Boise State, the Cougar offense was at its best once Falk took a couple of shots down field; especially the 50 yard bomb Tavares Martin Jr. that led to seven points at the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately, Washington State didn’t start going deep until they were trailing by three scores and they needed to hit those deep passes to overcome the deficit. Against Idaho, they should test the defense early and often.
While the offense started off slow, the defense for Washington State performed better than expected last weekend in Boise. Yes, the defense struggled against experienced running back Jeremy McNichols, but they hold the Bronco offense to 24 points; and kept the Broncos from putting the game out of reach while the offense sputtered throughout the third quarter. The defense gets to go against another run heavy team on Saturday, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can contain the run.
The Vandals offensive hopes are riding on the legs of junior running back Aaron Duckworth. In their first game against Montana State Duckworth carried the ball 15 times for 115 yards (7.5 yards a carry) and two touchdowns; the junior was less effective in Idaho’s second game, as he carried the only nine times for 30 yards, but he is still an important part of Idaho’s offensive game plan. He should get a chance to prove himself against Washington State’s defense.
In its blow-out loss to Washington last week, Idaho threw the ball 38 times and completed 23 of those attempts. Junior Matt Linehan was picked off once last week against a really good Washington defense — in fact, he’s only thrown one pick in 51 pass attempts this season. If the UW defense was unable to generate many mistakes from the junior quarterback; it’s unlikely the Washington State defense will be able to as well.
Washington State 42
Washington State lets Idaho hang around for the first three quarters before burying the Vandals in the fourth quarter.