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Louisiana Tech has made 14 trips to the red zone so far this year, but has scored just 43 points – worst in the nation.

These misfires have played a key role in each of Tech's three losses on the season.

The Bulldogs twice marched inside Kansas' 20-yard line, and came away empty handed. Tech was 1-for-2 against Boise State, then 2-of-4 in the red zone at Hawaii.

"In many ways, (last week's loss against the Warriors) was similar to our trip to Boise," Dooley said. "We moved the ball. I think we had 250 yards of offense, and 17 first downs. Our inability to score points has been a little bit of an Achilles' heel. We crossed the 50 eight times, but we only got 14 points."

Conversely, in its two wins – a Week 1 upset against Mississippi State and then an out-of-conference victory over Southeastern Louisiana – Tech failed to score just once from inside the other 20-yard line.

The Bulldogs have shown they can move the ball, collecting 91 first downs. Their 331 yards of offense, though heavily weighted toward the rush, is in the middle of the WAC pack.

But only one other program in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision has a red-zone scoring percentage lower than Tech's 57. (The Bulldogs are also 115th in the nation in overall scoring, with 16 ppg.)

Going inside the numbers, just one of the Bulldogs' five total touchdowns scored from inside the opposing 20 has been by air.

Those numbers, as much as Tech's losing record, led to a change at quarterback this week in advance of a home contest against league foe Idaho.

"Our passing game is still continuing to struggle," Dooley admitted.

Ross Jenkins – who has played in three games, going 4-of-12 passing (33 percent) for 15 yards and an interception – takes over for Taylor Bennett, the Georgia Tech transfer.

Bennett started the first five games of the season for the Bulldogs, who are 2-3. He has completed just 39.1 percent of his passes (going 61-of-156) for 844 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. "You have to do something," Dooley said. "I think Ross can bring some things to the offense. He certainly has great leadership and can make plays with his feet more. I think where we are offensively warrants some change."

Jenkins, taking over in the fourth quarter last week, guided the Bulldogs to a late score. Nevertheless, defending WAC champion Hawaii defeated Tech 24-14 – improving to 6-1 over the Bulldogs, including 4-0 at Aloha Stadium. Tech extended its road-losing streak to five games.

"It's unfair to Taylor to put all of our offensive problems on Taylor because you have to catch the ball, you have to block and you have to run the ball," Dooley said. "But the numbers don't lie and we feel like we needed to make a change at this point." Saturday's opponent arrives in Ruston at the right time, then.

The Vandals are just one spot higher than Tech amongst conference rivals for total offense, and are one spot lower in total defense.

Crushed 70-0 in the season opener against Arizona, Idaho's lone 2008 win was over Idaho State. Since then the team has dropped five straight, including a 45-32 loss against formerly ranked Fresno State last Saturday.

The Vandals are also coming off a night where they gave up 318 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, which must have Tech rushers Patrick Jackson and Daniel Porter licking their chops.

That said, fans will remember a competitive contest last season in Moscow, when the Bulldogs outrushed Idaho 211 yards to 67, but needed a 70-yard, fourth-quarter Phillips Livas touchdown to secure win.

"They're going through some tough times, like we are," Dooley said. "It was a really good matchup last year; we had to come from behind."

Idaho (1-6) at Louisiana Tech (2-3)

6:05 p.m. Saturday, Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston

TV: ESPN Regional. Radio: KXKZ, 107.5 FM


Notes: This is Louisiana Tech's first home contest in a month. … After seven games, Idaho is 70th in the nation in rushing with 134.1 ypg. … Tech leads the series, 2-1. … 41 of Tech's 80 total points so far this season came against Southeastern on Sept. 20.

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