It's difficult to find positives in a blowout loss, especially when the loss drops your team's overall record to 2-8. However, Idaho Vandals coach Robb Akey had to be pleased with at least one part of his team's performance in their 42-7 loss against BYU.
The Idaho running backs performed quite well, especially against a tough defense that almost completely negated the team's passing game.
Princeton McCarty and Kama Bailey combined for 161 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown. Not too shabby, considering that Vandals quarterbacks Brian Reader and Taylor Davis combined for 50 yards on 11 of 21 passing and had two interceptions and no touchdowns.
While the Vandals' QB's were downright terrible, their running backs certainly upheld their end of the deal. In all honesty, they were pretty much the only unit on the team that had any sort of success (excluding punter Bobby Cowan, who punted seven times for an average of 46.6 yards).
When a team is dominated as badly as the Vandals were, it usually means the whole team was overmatched. This makes the efforts of McCarty and Bailey all the more impressive, since they managed to rise up to the level of competition and play at a level that was difficult for BYU's defense to contain.
The Vandals' offensive line had trouble protecting their quarterbacks and was generally overmatched by the Cougars' defensive line and linebackers. However, the Vandal running backs were able to fare just fine behind that same shaky offensive line, making extra cuts in order to create the running space for themselves that their offensive line had failed to open up.
What accounted more for the success of Idaho's running backs?
Idaho's passing game was so ineffective that the Cougars were able to stay in run-defense packages most of the game. Yet McCarty and Bailey still found ways to get the yards, even though the defense was focused on stopping them.
For an idea of how reliable the Idaho running backs were in this game, it is useful to take a look at the Vandals' lone score. Trailing by 42 points late in the third quarter and facing third and long from their own 18, the Vandals chose to hand off the ball to McCarty, who then sped to the outside and outran the entire BYU defense for an 82-yard touchdown run, without much help from blockers.
That pretty much sums up the entire game: The Idaho running backs tried to put the team on their backs, but there was just too much dead weight to allow them to carry the team to victory.