POCATELLO — For the first time since 1999 the Idaho State football team is 2-0. But the 29-3 victory Saturday over Western State Colorado University was not the offensive show many expected.
Instead the much maligned Bengals defense and continued improvement of kicker Brendon Garcia where the keys to victory.
"For the second week in a row we are a team that was lead by our placekicker," ISU head coach Mike Kramer said. "It is great to have Brendon here and he is doing great things. He kicked off great, his placement is great he banged in a 50-yarder, the protection was great the holds were solid and he is able to take advantage of his opportunities and I think it is pretty cool for him to able to do that."
During fall camp Kramer was extremely critical of his kicker and there lack of success during the 2012 season. The extra work he put in during fall camp has shown itself on the field as through two games Garcia has eclipsed his field goal total from 2012 (6) by going a perfect 7-for-7 in the first two games and setting a career long with a 50-yard kick in the fourth quarter Saturday.
"I have been recognized before, but always for good reasons," Garcia said. "It is always nice to be liked, but it does not stop here, it is a long season and with kicking it can change at any time so I have to keep going."
While Kramer was extremely complimentary of his kicker for the second consecutive week, he also had some high praise for his defense, so much praise in fact that he brought three members of the defense to the post game press conference for the first time this season.
"It is a good thing to see some praise, but I don't blame you guys for not talking to us after last year," senior linebacker Jake Pele said. "We have a long way to go, but we are 2-0 and only allowed three points and we had a goal line stand, so it was nice to see."
If there was one moment that described the game it was the Bengals goal line stand in the third quarter.
After a Justin Arias fumble, Western State's Kalvin Winter scooped up the ball and returned down to the ISU three yard line.
In previous years the Bengals would have easily given up a touchdown, Saturday the defense held the Mountaineers scoreless.
After stopping three consecutive running plays, Cameron Gupton broke a fourth down pass attempt and gave his offense the ball back.
"Our defensive staff always preaches bow your necks and be ready for sudden change," Pele said. "As a defense we have to ready for that sudden change, so when it happened we all jumped up off the bench and went out and said this is our time to prove ourselves, there was a lot of energy out there."
The Bengals defense allowed 267 total yards, with 113 of those coming on the ground.
On offense the Bengals struggled to get into the end zone and had a ton of costly penalties.
"We played with pretty good intensity but not a lot of intelligence and boy did we show our youth on offense," Kramer said. "I think we played 11 sophomores, 11 freshman, one junior and one senior on offense and did it seem like a young crew and they played like it today."
The Bengals did get three touchdowns all involving Arias.
He connected with Tyler Wright on a three yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Later in the quarter he found a leaping Cameron Richmond with a 26-yard touchdown. Earlier in the game he ran in a touchdown from eight yards out.
The redshirt junior finished the day 37-of-54 for 436 yards and the two touchdown passes.
"There is no better feeling than to be 2-0," Kramer said. "But we still have work to do. We showed are youth and way to many penalties and man do I hate penalties."
ISU had 12 penalties for 167 yards on the afternoon.
The Bengals hit the road for the first time next week at they travel to take on the University of Washington. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.