Oregon Over Idaho 48-10

Despite the lopsided loss to the Ducks Saturday afternoon, several aspects saw improvement for the Vandals offensively. Specifically, behind the blocking of junior center <b>Jarrod Schulte</b> and the young Vandal line, the passing game was productive early in this game.<br> <br> It wasn't perfect, and a tremendous amout of work remains across the board, but in light of the events of this past week the team put up an admirable effort against a Duck team loaded with talent but short on wins.

In a moving moment of silence before the game, both teams paid their respects to fallen Vandal Eric McMillan in front of 57,912 fans at Oregon's Autzen Stadium. The gesture on the part of the Oregon Ducks was commendable, and an impressive tribute by a first class Oregon program.

Ric Bowmer / AP
Moment of silence at Autzen.

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Helmets with "7 EM" pay tribute to teammate Eric McMillan.
The Vandals also adorned their helmets with stickers displaying the number "7" and initials "EM". Whether or not the team was actually able to put the events of last week "behind" them, they will carry with them a visual reminder of McMillan in every game they play this season. The staff here at VandalVenue.com would like to express our appreciation to this team for the effort they are putting in to pick up and move on. We know it is not easy, but we appreciate the valiant effort the team displayed Saturday against a solid, talent-laden Oregon Duck football team in a typically hostile environment.

Defensively, Idaho played a ton of players Saturday. In all, 23 different defensive players recorded at least 1 tackle in the game. Leading the charge was junior middle linebacker Cole Snyder who had a career day as he recorded 18 tackles, 9 solo take-downs, and forced a fumble. On the season he leads the Vandals with 48 tackles already, including 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble. He's clearly becoming more comfortable as the starting MIKE for Idaho this season, and is on pace for an outstanding season.

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Chris Nathan pops Oregon WR at the line.
Among some of the other defenders of note were redshirt freshman OLB Josh Bousman, who recorded 7 tackles on the afternoon and recovered a fumble for Idaho. Also, among the CBs working in place of Eric McMillan was senior cornerback Chris Nathan who recorded 9 tackles (5 solo) and forced a fumble. Several Vandals worked into the CB rotation, including true freshman Reggie Jones, who put up 3 tackles, broke up a pass, and also returned 2 kick-offs on the day, with a long of 16 yards. Defending the opposite side of the field, senior cornerback J.R. Ruffin recorded 7 tackles and forced a fumble. A busy day for the Vandal DBs, for certain.

Also of note was RS-junior defensive lineman Tim Bertalot who recorded a tackle on Oregon QB Kellen Clemens in the second half. Tim, out of Central Catholic High School in Portland, came to Idaho as a linebacker, moved to DE last season, and has been rotating in this fall at DT.

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Tim Bertalot on the tackle, with Reggie Jones in support.

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Hank Therien blocking out.
Offensively, the Vandals struggled to move the ball on the ground against a rugged Oregon defensive front wall. Sophomore left tackle Hank Therien played a solid game, but the size and strength of the Ducks' front 7 was a heavy load for Idaho's O-Line. True freshman right tackle Desmond Clark (6-3, 300) continues to see a substantial amount of playing time as he rotates in with Therien and sophomore Nate VanderPol (Nate switches between left and right tackle). In 27 rushing attempts, Idaho gained 85 yards as 2 true freshmen, Jayson Bird and Rolly Lumbala, registered the bulk of the carries. Rolly (pronounced roll-ee) registered 9 carries on the afternoon, gaining 38 yards with a long of 15 (averaged 4.2 per carry). Bird, who has been Idaho's leading rusher all season, recorded just 11 net yards on 9 carries. A challenging afternoon for a pair that had seen some impressive success early in this season against some good defensive units.

The day was not without some fulfilling moments for the Idaho backs. Rolly did bust a run for 15 yards, while Bird, a speedy back with great acceleration for a player of his size (6-0, 220), also displayed some of the power running that Vandal fans can look forward to seeing more of in the years ahead. Check the sequence below...

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Raging Bull: True Freshman runningback Jayson Bird unloads on Oregon starting free safety, sophomore J.D. Nelson.

Although the running game struggled, the passing game for Idaho came to life a bit Saturday. The Vandals were able to move the ball fairly effectively through the air, as junior quarterback and team captain Michael Harrington hit 20 of 32 pass attempts for 192 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, and a long of 23 yards. He still met the Oregon D-Line face-to-face regularly, enduring 3 sacks on the afternoon. But he looked as smooth as he's looked all season, which will hopefully be a good sign as Idaho moves into its Conference schedule in 2 weeks.

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Wendell Octave led the Vandals with 74 receiving yards.
For the first time all year, 3 Vandal receivers recorded 50 yards or more on the day. Senior Bobby Bernal-Wood caught a team high 7 catches for 54 yards, with a long of 13 yards. Sophomore Wendell Octave led the team in receiving yards, going 74 yards on 6 catches, with a long of 23 yards on the day (a reception from Harrington). Senior Jimmy Labita put up very efficient 62 yards on 5 receptions and registered Idaho's only TD reception (he also had a long of 20 yards). Overall, a nice game for the Vandal receiving corp against a pretty solid Oregon D.

Finally, the special teams unit had its share of high and low points on the afternoon. Among field goal stats, sophomore kicker Mike Barrow hit from 41 yards out in the 1st quarter to make it a 14-3 ball game. In the second quarter, Mike missed from 40 yards out on an attempt that could have made the half-time score 34-13. In the 3rd quarter, he had a 34 yard attempt blocked.

From a punting standpoint, Mike had another busy day punting 7 times with an average of 36 yards per boot and a long of 46 yards. Impressively, 4 of his kicks landed inside the Oregon 20 yard line.

NEXT UP: Eastern Michigan University Eagles

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Nick Holt and crew work to guide team through Conference slate.

Now Coach Nick Holt and crew will work to keep the team focused on the remainder of the schedule. For many Idaho fans, this is looked at a time when the games will get easier.

Not necessarily so.

As much as Idaho fans are looking at the rest of the schedule as games the team "should" win, every team is looking at Idaho the same way. Among the challenges for the staff the rest of the way out will likely be keeping the team focused and at a high level of intensity playing in Ypsilanti (Michigan), Murfreesboro (Tennessee), and Denton (Texas) after having taken on regional teams such as Oregon, Washington State, rival Boise State, and Utah State. You can pretty much count on the fact that every team on the rest of Idaho's schedule will be pointing at Idaho as a must win game, either to salvage their season or stay in the Conferene race.

This week, Idaho plays at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. The Eagles (1-3) opened with a 37-34 win over Buffalo, then lost in following weeks to Florida (49-10), Toledo (42-32), and Eastern Illinois (31-28). Obviously, the Eagles are capable of putting up some points, averaging about 32 per game against their 3 opponents other than Florida. Granted, Buffalo is having a rough year (0-4), with losses to Syracuse (37-17), Nevada (38-13), and MAC member Ohio (34-0). And, Eastern Illinois is a 1-AA team.

But Idaho will have to go into this game focused, well prepared, and serious about EMU to come back with a W.

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