HOMECOMING: Vandals host Louisiana Tech

SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT 2:00 PM IN THE DOME the Vandals will take on Louisiana Tech in Idaho's Homecoming celebration game. Both teams have 1-4, 0-1 WAC records on the season and are in need of a win this weekend to keep their bowl aspirations alive. Led by senior middle linebacker and Defensive Team Captain TRE'SHAWN ROBINSON, the Vandals will seek their first WAC win of the 2011 season.

The Idaho Vandals return home to face Louisiana Tech for their second conference contest of the season, and more importantly, Homecoming. Vandals from all around the state and the region will be coming to Moscow to celebrate their alma mater and reconnect with friends from the past, remembering the good times and why the University of Idaho holds a special place in their hearts. The proud tradition of Idaho can always be found on the Palouse.

The University of Idaho is much more than a catchy slogan or a blue field… it's a real tradition with real alumni. Not some fabricated identity created by national football polls and a fan base along for the ride.

Yet, winning the Homecoming game would be the cherry on top the yearly celebration at the University of Idaho, and the Vandals will need the Dome filled to get their first significant win of the season.

Both teams have identical 1-4 season records coming into this weekend's tilt, punctuated by losses in overtime, blowout losses to conference foes, and not quite living up to their potential. Idaho and La tech find their teams in the exact same predicament; in desperate need of a win.

The Bulldogs lead the series 4-2.

The Vandals seem to be coming around. It's taken the first half of the season, but they are starting to figure out how to put a full four quarters together. Brian Reader is still having accuracy issues, but the running game is starting to click. If the Vandals could find balance, the offense could maybe find success. Princeton McCarty and Kama Bailey have been effective carrying the rock. But the success rests on Reader's arm. He has the targets. Armauni Johnson, Marsel Posey and Michael Scott have all been successful catching the ball this season.

But something seems to be missing.

Looking at Reader's numbers from last week's game, 17-of-41, one could guess what it might be. Considering McCarty's numbers, 14 carries for 90 yards and 4 receptions for 21 yards, he might be under-utilized.

Heaven knows Bobby Cowan isn't. His 76 yard punt last week is worth a mention.

On defense the Vandals have been opportunistic. Last week was no exception, holding Virginia to 21 points while forcing two fumbles and nabbing a pick. They finally got the sacks they were looking for out of linebacker Korey Toomer, safety Gary Walker and defensive lineman Quayshawne Buckley. Quin Ashley, once again, led the team in tackles, while the linebacking crew did their usual damage.

But the real stars of the game were on Special Teams when Justin Hernandez blocked a punt and Daniel Micheletti took it in from four yards out. It's what changed the momentum in the game, pushed it to overtime, and came close to sparking the Vandals to a road win.

As far as the Bulldogs are concerned, Louisiana Tech has found a quarterback in Nick Isham. The 6-0, 185 pound freshman can throw the ball, but also comes with the mistakes you'd expect from a young signal caller. He has tossed his share of touchdowns, but he also has tossed his share of interceptions. Vandal fans will remember senior runningback Lennon Creer (6-1, 215). He's the real deal and brings explosiveness out of the backfield, but can also catch and run. The other back is Ray Holley, a 5-9, 190-pound bowling ball who has made the most out of his touches. They average 4.2 and 4.0 yards per carry, respectively.

Isham's favorite targets, outside of Creer, are 5-11, 185 senior Taulib Ikharo and 6-2, 195 junior Quinton Patton. Both have been effective catching the ball, but Patton is one of those go-to receivers. His size and speed will be hard to stop, as he's already caught for over 600 yards on the season. Keep in mind that Isham is just getting warmed up, and seemed to catch his stride last week. Vandal fans should expect both facets of the Bulldog offense firing on all cylinders.

BullDog Offensive Line – LT Kris Cavitt (6-2, 300 Sr.), LG Kevin Saia (6-2, 305 Jr.), Center Stephen Warner (6-0, 315 Jr.), RG Oscar Johnson (6-6.5 350 Jr.) RT Jordan Mills (6-6, 315 Jr)

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs are led by some familiar names. Strongside Linebacker Rufus Porter (6-1, 210) is back, as is middle linebacker Adrien Cole (5-11, 250), and Solomon Randle (5-11, 230). Cole is one of the best linebackers in the league, and his hard-nosed play has earned him a reputation. The backfield is led by senior corner Terry Carter and junior free safety Jamel Johnson. The defense is hungry for a turnover and will come into the Dome on Saturday looking for some. The Vandals will have to emphasize ball security if they want to win this game.

BullDog Defensive Line - LE Matt Broha (6-4, 255 Sr.), NT Jon'al White (6-1, 300 Jr.) DT Adam Hymel (6-0, 265 Sr.) RE I.K. Enemkpali (6-2, 245 So.)

The University of Idaho has been celebrating Homecoming all week, and everything culminates with the game Saturday. The Dome should be rocking, filled with Vandals young and old, cheering on the Silver and Gold. The Vandals have never needed a win this badly. The 2011 season is slipping away in a fashion that fans thought was a thing of the past.

It's time for a change.

Let's fill the Dome and show our Vandal Pride for the support of the football team, for the love of our alma mater and for the voice of Vandal Legend Bob Curtis!

Go Vandals!

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