MOSCOW Three days after unleashing an aerial assault which resulted in 352 yards and one of UIs best quarterback performances in two years, nearly everyone around the Idaho Vandals still seemed impressed with junior Dominique Blackmans electric debut.
The exception? Blackman himself.
"I dont really feel that good to be honest," the junior said following practice on Tuesday. "I didnt win. Ill take an average game passing and all that with a win any day, because thats what most important.
"Thats what people judge you by is winning."
The quarterback, who went 30-for-37 with a touchdown, went on to say that some throws were left out on the field, especially on third down.
While Blackman felt that there was significant room for improvement, his coach was just excited to see his QB take command of the Vandal offense for the first time.
"It was fun in a lot of ways to see it," UI coach Robb Akey said. "During the game, watching it on film you got a guy with some poise, some confidence and hes looking to make a play.
"I think he exudes some confidence and that helps the guys around him."
Against Bowling Green, that fortitude by osmosis became evident as a deep group of receivers emerged to make several routine and difficult catches throughout the game.
Blackmans top target was JC transfer Jahrie Level.
Playing in only his second game for the Vandals, Level caught a game-high 10 passes for 119 yards.
Level, who played at El Camino College in Compton, Calif., is the second JC transfer to accrue more than 100 reception yards in a game this season. The first was Najee Lovetts 105-yard tally against Eastern Washington in the season opener.
"I felt comfortable with Dom, no slight against (No. 2 QB) Logan (Bushnell) who made things happen, but Dom is a better reader of the field," Level said. "Hes more active with checkoffs and makes wise decisions."
Vandals and Tigers and bears, oh my As many teams have already discovered, dealing with one of the highest-ranked programs in the country on the field is only one of the many challenges that comes with strolling into a packed house deep in enemy territory.
And itll be no different for the Vandals when they head to Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday to take on 2011 national title game runner-up LSU, which is ranked No. 3 in the AP poll and No. 2 in the USA Today/Coaches poll.
This week, the Vandals dusted off the old speaker system for the first time this fall and had it blaring throughout much of practice in an attempt to replicate the cauldron affectionately known as Death Valley.
"This," Akey said pointing to the speaker system, "youre not surrounded by 95,000 people, but your communication is tested. Your focus is tested.
"It is aggravating. Actually, this is more aggravating because crowd noise is going to go up and down a bit more and if you can make some big plays, you can quiet that crowd down a little more."
But it doesnt end there for Idaho, considering that LSU famously showcases a live 800-pound bengal tiger named Mike that occupies a large yellow cage near the visitors entrance.
"That tigers going to be there, they got him micd up well so you can hear him all over the place," Akey said. "Im sure theyre going to have him located so we can see those fangs. Itll be like going to the zoo. Itll be a hell of a deal."
A week ago, Washington tried to pull its own tiger trick, bringing 300-pound Sheena to practice ahead of its visit to Louisiana.
"Bringing the tiger out to practice didnt seem to help Washington too much," Akey said, referencing the Huskies 41-3 loss to LSU. "I had two of them ready to go, but Im not going to bring them out this week."
Infirmary report After leaving the field with an injured knee last week against Bowling Green, starting cornerback Tracy Carter sustained a bone bruise and will be evaluated daily, Akey said.
Should Carter fail to recuperate by Saturday, redshirt freshman Solomon Dixon will take his place. Last week, Dixon notched his first career interception after he jumped a route and picked off Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz.