LAST WEEK: This is Idaho's second season in the WAC, and last Saturday the Vandals registered their first win over a WAC opponent other than Utah State or New Mexico State. Idaho has not lost to either of those teams since joining the WAC, and last weekend beat Louisiana Tech 24-14 in Ruston. The game itself represented much of this season for Idaho - some solid and opportunistic defense combined with offensive performances that are hot and cold. Although the Idaho defense forced two La Tech turnovers on the Bulldogs' first two drives, the Vandal O could not produce a scoring drive. Then, two drives later, the Idaho offense marched 80 yards and looked impressive in the process. Only once so far this season (two weeks ago against NMSU) has Idaho's offense "clicked" on virtually every series of a half, let alone a whole game. For Idaho fans, the good news is they're 3-0 in WAC competition and have not played a complete game yet. The question is whether that complete game, on both sides of the ball, will finally happen this weekend or not.
BOISE STATE IS ON OFFENSE:
|WHEN IDAHO IS ON OFFENSE: With the off-season coaching change this year came the installation of a new offense at Idaho. Although Dennis Erickson's offense has shown signs of being explosive this fall, consistency has been an issue. QB Steve Wichman got off to a good start at Michigan State, then went through a brutal stretch against Washington State and Oregon State - a stretch in which he threw 6 of his 8 interceptions on the season. Since the OSU game, when a QB change was considered, Wichman has been solid. He's thrown just two picks in the last three games, all Idaho victories. The running game has been both hot and cold this year, and has been manned by committee. For the season Idaho has netted 1,026 yards (119 yards per game). Duties have been virtually split between sophomore Idahoan Jayson Bird and JC Gridwire All American Brian Flowers. Flowers is questionable for this weekend's game, and a replacement will need to emerge. Expect sophomore Tracy Ford and true freshman Raymond Fry to get their shots. The ‘backs operate behind a line featuring four returning starters from last season. Seniors Nate VanderPol and Jade Tadvick anchor the left side, sophomore Rimington Trophy Watch List center Adam Korby is in his second year as starter, and the right side is manned by second year starter sophomore Kris Anderson at right tackle. The passing game, on the other hand, is still looking to take flight. Two new wide receivers, Marlon Haynes and Tariq Ikharo, joined the program in August and have emerged as reliable targets, joining flanker Wendell Octave. Look for Wichman to distribute the ball generously to WRs and TEs. Erickson made his name with a tremendous passing game, so expect Idaho to take their shots down field.|
BOISE STATE IS ON DEFENSE:
||WHEN IDAHO IS ON DEFENSE: Two years ago Idaho led the nation by fielding a whopping 17 true freshmen, and that youth is beginning to pay off now. The catalyst for the Vandal D is junior WILL David Vobora. David joined the program as a true freshman in 2004 and played immediately. A little undersized then, he's now 6-1 and a solid 230 with good speed, great instincts, and is a tough competitor. He is second in the WAC in tackles per game, averaging 11.71 per game. He leads the nation in solo tackles per game (8.00). The linebacker corps is Idaho's strength, with veterans Josh Bousman or Brandon Ogletree starting at SAM, and Jaron Williams starting at MIKE. The unit took a big hit this week when JC Gridwire All-American Joartis Ratti went down in Ruston with an injury. He's out for a few weeks, and the load will fall onto Williams. Up front Idaho has shown some steady improvement week-to-week. The interior DL will be manned by a steady rotation of Siua Musika, Alex Toailoa, Marvin Jones, and Jon Dominguez (questionable this week is senior Ryan Davis). The ends are relatively small but have good speed. At strongside end is true sophomore Josh Shaw (6-2, 253) backed up by junior George Fa'avae (6-2, 255). Off the weakside is true junior Ben Alexander (6-1, 235) and Charles Campbell (6-3, 235). The entire front four rotates generously. One group that has had a surprisingly solid start to the '06 season is the defensive backfield. Cornerback has been a strength with Stanley Franks, Reggie Jones, and Kiel McDonald getting most of the reps. If Jones is unable to play Saturday, McDonald will start in his place. Last weekend Franks picked off his sixth pass of the season, and he has a 98 yard TD return under his belt. The safeties are a combo of youth (true freshman Shiloh Keo at SS) and veteran leadership (Tone Taupule at FS). Keo rarely leaves the field, while JC transfer Chris Smith is emerging in a solid rotation at FS.|
||SPECIAL TEAMS: The Vandals took a huge blow this off-season when First Team All-WAC placekicker Mike Barrow was lost for the year just weeks before the season started. Walkon sophomore Tino Amancio has stepped into his place and played remarkably well, which began when he converted a 49-yarder in his first Division-1 kick against Michigan State. In week 5 he was awarded WAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors and at the time was good on 86% of his attempts (including conversions of 49 and 42 yards). Against NMSU he struggled a bit, going 0-2 on two 45+ yard attempts, and missed his first attempt at LTU in the first half. But he got back on track in the second half, converting a 23 yard attempt that gave Idaho a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter. On the year he's connected 7 of 11 attempts. Kick returning duties are handled by committee, including Raymond Fry and Stanley Franks, both of whom have explosive speed, while true sophomore punt returner Wesley Williams, a sprinter on the Idaho track team, has not yet had a chance to stretch his legs.|
STATE CAN WIN IF: The Broncos can win if Jared Zabransky has another
stellar performance and Ian Johnson can remain healthy on the
unforgiving Kibbie Dome turf. The
Boise State Offensive and Defensive lines should control the game by
dominating the line of scrimmage, which would lead to a comfortable if
not unspectacular win. However..
||IDAHO CAN WIN IF: The crowd is loud, the offense plays one of its best - most consistent - games of the year (more than 3 or 4 TDs will be required), and the team keeps its composure throughout the game. Obviously an effective substitute for Flowers will have to emerge, and the offense must keep its focus from beginning to end. BSU will score their points...Idaho can't afford to go into a slump or panic (offensively or defensively) when the Broncos stick it in the endzone. Defensively Idaho has proven on several occasions that they can keep things together and play well for four quarters. The offense will have to prove that this week.|
STATE WILL LOSE IF: The Broncos will lose if Jared Zabransky reverts
to his 2005 ways. He has not
shown any hints of his Junior struggles, which bodes well for the
Broncos, however the Dome is a very inhospitable place to play, and
||IDAHO WILL LOSE IF: 1) The Vandals take too many series to get into the game, 2) personnel losses from last weekend turn out to be bigger issues than anticipated, and 3) the crowd is silent. Idaho likely can't afford to fall 2 or 3 TDs behind early and play in catchup mode. This team will also have some serious problems if the D gets crossed up for extended stretches. The loss of Ratti (and possibly Davis) will affect rotations at each position, and that is something these two units have not had to deal with much so far this fall.|
Two-deeps | Roster | Schedule | Message Boards
Two-deeps | Roster | Schedule | Message Boards
|Kevin Hiatt may hang an Idaho sheepskin on his vanity wall, but it's outnumbered by his degrees from the good guys.||Pat Hauge is one of the administrators for VandalVenue.com and reminds all Vandal fans to wear black gear to the game this weekend.|
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