Looking Ahead to 2002

This winter Head Coach Tom Cable overhauled the defensive coaching staff and hired a Special Teams Coordinator to help improve an Idaho defense which struggled throughout 2001. Given the additions and changes to the team, its impossible to know who will start for Idaho next season, but this is our first "guess" at a starting roster for 2002.

In 2002, change is the name of the game at Idaho, and it began last December with the installation of a new defensive coaching staff. To help restore confidence and aggressive play, Head Coach Tom Cable hired a young Defensive Coordinator in Ed Lamb. Up front, the Vandals wanted an experienced Defensive Line coach, and they found him in George Booker from San Diego State University. To help with the defensive backfield and various other positions, and more importantly, to shore up numerous breakdowns on special teams, Gary Coston was also added to the staff. Offensively, Idaho needed to replace its running backs coach, and chose Idaho's record setting running back Joel Thomas who comes back to Moscow after spending the past 2 seasons as an assistant at Purdue University of the Big-10.

So, who will this group be coaching? Obviously, nothing is set in stone, particularly with the junior college athletes who were brought in this season and the freshman class that was redshirted last year. There will be as much quality depth and competition on this and future editions of the team as there has likely ever been in the history of the program. Offensively, Idaho will be starting a new QB, at least 2 new wide receivers, and potentially a new running back. Defensively, given the new staff and infusion of JC transfers, virtually every position appears to be wide open, which should make for one of the most interesting spring practice sessions in years. Below is a look at who we "think" has a good shot at earning a starting job next season.

#1. If we missed a player we SINCERELY apologize. Just let us know and we'll repair the damage.
#2. We're guessing at this…an educated guess, but a guess none-the-less. A term you'll see throughout the complete depth charts is "SWAG". A "SWAG" is a Scientific Wild A$$ Guess and a WAG is a…er…well, no science involved.

Offense (8 Returning Starters)
(+=Walk On, T=True, did not redshirt, RS=RedShirt, ( )=Yrs Starting Experience)
QB Brian Lindgren 6-4 210 Jr RS Walla Walla, WA
RB Blair Lewis 5-11 205 Sr JC(1) Arcadia, CA
FB Kevin O'Connell 6-2 247 Sr RS(1) Spokane, WA
WR Chris Belser 5-11 173 Sr RS Spanaway, WA
WR Josh Jelmberg 6-1 190 Sr RS Kennewick, WA
TE Michael McCoy 6-3 245 So RS(1) King City, CA
ST Ray DeAnda 6-9 315 Sr JC(1) Rowland, CA
SG Robert Mitchell 6-2 312 Sr JC(1) Rialto, CA
C Matt Martinez 6-2 317 Jr RS(1) Wenatchee, WA
WG Jason Cobb 6-4 304 Jr RS(1) Kennewick, WA
WT Jake Scott 6-5 275 Jr +RS(2) Lewiston, ID
For Complete Offensive Depth Chart Click Here

Defense (6 Returning Starters)
(+=Walk On, T=True, did not redshirt, RS=RedShirt, ( )=Yrs Starting Experience)
RE Brandon Kania 6-3 230 So T(1) Pasco, WA
DT Brian Howard 6-3 286 Jr T(1) Kent, WA
NT Ryan Atoe 6-2 314 Sr JC The Dalles, OR
DE Kelly Nead 6-4 236 Jr JC Driggs, ID
WLB Patrick Libey 6-2 233 Jr +RS(1) Veradale, WA
MLB Jordan Lampos 5-11 239 Jr T Westlake Village, CA
SLB James Staley 6-1 218 Sr JC(1) Cucamonga, CA
CB J.R. Ruffin 6-0 175 Jr JC Detroit, MI
CB Darryl Murphy 5-11 195 Jr JC Palmdale, CA
FS Nick Williams 6-0 200 So T(1) Seattle, WA
SS Sergio Robleto 5-10 186 Sr JC(1) Downey, CA
For Complete Defensive Depth Chart Click Here

Special Teams (2 Returning Starters)
(+=Walk On, T=True, did not redshirt, RS=RedShirt, ( )=Yrs Starting Experience)
K Brian Pope 6-1 210 Jr JC(1) Colton, CA
P Ryan Downes 6-5 184 Jr T(2) Casper, WY
KR Cedric Thompson 5-8 175 Jr JC Denver, CO
PR Cedric Thompson 5-8 175 Jr JC Denver, CO
For Complete Special Teams Depth Chart Click Here

As we compiled this list one thing stands out; we have a ton (several tons, actually) of O-linemen. We know that there is more talent, top to bottom, within this group then there has likely ever been at Idaho. A youngster or 2 may displace one of Idaho's 5 returning starters. Also, if the drop off is not too great between 1st and 2nd stringers, we may see Cable rotate linemen where possible. We know that Cable will run the ball to open up the passing game and control the clock. If the defense improves enough so that the offense can play a ball control game, then expect the Vandals to use this big offensive line to wear its opponents down and control the game in the second half. If Blair Lewis is back, expect quite a show.

The early schedule for this team is brutal, and will be a huge test for the new faces on defense, including the newly formed defensive coaching staff. Idaho brought in enough athletic talent on Defense to give its nationally ranked Top 10 Offense a chance to do what needs to be done to win games. However, whether this group (which includes 4 JC transfers on our list making their first Division I start) can gel early and play as a unit remains to be seen. By mid-season we believe this group will.

ALL Vandals Top Stories