Broncos Open Season Against Idaho!

Anticipation is high as the 2004 version of the Boise State Broncos debuts Saturday night against Idaho. What's the story on the team from Moscow?


After all the talk, the pre-season speculation, the much too long off-season, it's finally here!
Boise State opens the 2004 season on the blue against the Idaho Vandals Saturday with a kickoff of 6:05 p.m. Idaho was 3-9 last year while the Broncos were 13-1.

Coach Nick Holt replaces Tom Cable at the University of Idaho and has already adopted the Chris Tormey (former coach at Idaho and now Nevada) philosophy of telling his team and all that will listen that they hate Boise State", or, as Holt put it, "We can't stand the school down there and can't even say their name." We will see Saturday which coaching approach (Holt's or Boise State Coach Dan Hawkins') works better, but for now, let's take a look at the 2004 Vandal team.

After significant action last season Michael Harrington (90-196 for 996 yards, 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 2003), moves into the starting role with the graduation of Brian Lindgren. Harrington was 25-50 for 273 yards against Boise State last year in Moscow. Gone are 1,000-yard running back Zach Gerstner and Malfred Shaw as well as the Moscow school's top two receivers Orlando Winston (55 receptions for 807 yards) and Michael McCoy (32-478).

Idaho's approach the last two years was to try to shorten the game by running the ball. Seniors Bobby Bernal-Wood (6-2, 203) and Jimmy Labita (5-10, 172), are still listed as starters on the school's two-deep chart but in a scrimmage a couple of weeks ago, Rolly Lumbala (6-2, 241, Fr.)carried the ball 19 times for 76 yards and Jayson Bird (6-0, 220, Fr.) 13 for 48.

Jimmy Labita (5-10, 172, Sr.) Wendell Octave (6-1, 178, So.) and Bobby Bernal-Wood (6-2, 203) are the favorites at the receiver positions with Willie Sipoloa (6-2, 259, Sr.) the tight end. Labita had 26 catches for 438 yards while Octave had 19 for 322 and Bernal-Wood grabbed 15 for 181 yards a year ago. Labita's 92-yard reception is the 2nd longest in Vandal history.

The projected line of Jade Tavick (6-5, 320 So.), Nate Vanderpol (6-6, 312 So.), Tony Kiel (6-3, 317 Sr.), Ryan Waage (6-4, 300 Jr.) and Center Jarrod Schulte (6-3, 269 Jr.) will look to protect Harrington and open holes for the running game.

Coach Holt promises an aggressive defense that will "dictate what the offense does, rather than react to it." The dictators, then, are Mike Anderson (6-3, 237, Jr.) and Brandon Kania (6-3, 241, Sr.) at defensive end, Jeff Edwards (6-3, 263, Jr.) the tackle and James Coley (6-2, 246, Sr.) or Michael Togafu (6-3, 292, Sr.) at nose tackle. Anderson was credited with 97 tackles and 2 sacks last season, while Kania had 46 tackles and 7 sacks.

 Robert Davis (6-4, 225, So.) is a strong presence at linebacker. He'll be joined by Cole Snyder (5-11, 230, Jr.) or freshman Ben Alexander (6-1, 230) and Nate Nichols (6-2, 223, Jr.). J.R. Ruffin (6-0, 167, Sr.) and Eric McMillan (5-9, 173, Fr.) are expected to start at the corners with safeties Simeon Stewart (5-8, 179, Sr.) and Jevon Butler (6-0, 205, Fr.).

 Mike Barrow (5-11, 150, So.) will handle both punting and placekicking duties Saturday.

 It's a young Idaho team that will take the field Saturday as they'll be replacing several starters. Coach Holt is fired up to make a difference in Moscow and his team will be as well. They would like nothing better than to knock off the #27 team in the nation that they don't like to talk about. This is their biggest game of the year—their national championship game. One thing's for sure—there will be plenty of excitement at Bronco Stadium as college football gets underway in Boise!

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