Cable wants more speed, strength, too

University of Idaho football coach Tom Cable summed up the 2001 season in one word.

 University of Idaho football coach Tom Cable summed up the 2001 season in one word.

No, it wasn't a word of the four-letter variety. He went with "underachieved."

From the tone of his voice, one would guess he intended it to be underlined and in capital letters.

"The thing that stands out is fundamentally improving the team from the first year to the second. . . . I don't think we did that," Cable said.

Which begins to explain how Idaho went from 5-6 in Cable's first year to 1-10 this season.

Hey, it could have been worse. Louisiana-Monroe's Brooks Greer could have caught a perfectly thrown long pass at Idaho's 10-yard line and scored with 2 minutes remaining. And the Vandals' only win would have been in serious jeopardy.

Still, they don't manufacture oversized foam hands with 114 fingers, which is where the Vandals finished in one online power poll of 117 I-A teams.

The good news -- cynics would suggest the bad news -- is that Idaho returns 16 starters, including the entire offensive line.

However, Idaho might have to replace its entire skill-position crew. Quarterback John Welsh and starting receivers Chris Lacy and Rossi Martin are gone. Chris Belser, Josh Jelmberg and Orlando Winston give UI options at receiver. Brian Lindgren, who figures to be pushed by Michael Harrington, has proven he can do the job at quarterback.

The question mark is at running back. Blair Lewis ran for 509 yards against the toughest teams on Idaho's schedule before suffering a torn ACL in one knee. He will have to make a swift recovery to be at full speed by next fall.

Zach Gerstner is the only other experienced back returning.

Cable expects to sign two junior college running backs. "There's too much uncertainty (concerning Lewis' health)," Cable said.

The defense, which gave up 118 more points, 36 more first downs and 445 more yards than the 2000 unit, has obvious needs.

The line has generated little pressure for two seasons. Freshman end Brandon Kania and sophomore tackle Brian Howard emerged as the best pass rushers. Cable intends to sign four JC players -- two ends and two tackles -- to reinforce the line.

Jordan Lampos, Patrick Libey and James Staley return at linebacker, along with Jordan Kramer, who has flip-flopped between linebacker and safety.

Nick Williams, another freshman pressed into duty this season, and Sergio Robleto are back at safety. Cornerback could see an infusion of new faces. Tim Sams, Antjuan Tolbert, Sammy Ruben, Simeon Stewart and Devon Ford all saw time there. Ed Rankin started most of the year, but he's been suspended indefinitely.

"We'll go get two JC corners," Cable said.

The returning players must make leaps in speed and strength.

"We have to be willing to pay the price, which means this is a tough game for tough people," Cable said. "Camp is going to be long and hard and we can't moo-moo about that. Winter conditioning is going to be hard and demanding. One thing that is really missing is the fact that if you want to be a champion, you have to work harder and longer and be more committed."

Reminded that Idaho had a record turnout of players who stayed in Moscow last summer to work out, Cable said, "Yeah, but a lot of people go to work because they're supposed to. Then there's a lot of people that work to achieve and end up being a vice president or president."

Lack of speed is the Vandals' biggest deficiency. Opposing Sun Belt teams were clearly faster.

"We have to have more speed defensively, particularly in the secondary," Cable said. "The only thing I was impressed about was how much speed the southern teams had, whether it was (Louisiana) Monroe or Middle (Tennessee). Their skill kids could run."

2002 season outlook

Starters returning (8): OL Jake Scott, OL Jason Cobb, OL Matt Martinez, OL Robert Mitchell, OL Seann Mumford, RB Blair Lewis, TE Mike McCoy, FB Kevin O'Connell.

Starters lost (3): QB John Welsh, WR Chris Lacy, WR Rossi Martin.


Starters returning (8): DE Brandon Kania, DT Brian Howard, DT Mike Jones, LB Jordan Kramer, LB Patrick Libey, SS Sergio Robleto, FS Nick Williams, CB Ed Rankin.

Starters lost (3): DT Wil Beck, LB Brad Rice, CB Ighe Evero.

Special teams

Starters returning: PK Keith Stamps/Brian Pope, P Ryan Downes, KR Blair Lewis, PR Orlando Winston.

Starters lost (1): KR Chris Lacy.


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