1-on-1 with LT Nate VanderPol

Idaho's offensive line has taken a little heat this spring, breaking in a new starter and learning a new offense in the last four weeks. The group showed steady progress against an Idaho defensive front that looks to be one of the best Vandal defensive lines in years. We talked to a couple linemen last weekend, including senior NATE VANDERPOL, Idaho's starting left tackle.

As a high school senior in 2001 at Federal Way High School in Federal Way, WA, Nate VanderPol earned consensus 1st Team All State honors (by the AP and Seattle Times), and was named to the Seattle Times All-Area Team. He joined the Vandals in 2002 and redshirted the season. In 2003 he split starting duties as a redshirt freshman at right tackle with former teammate Hank Therien, and by the 2004 season opener was Idaho's starting right tackle. Last season he made the switch over to left tackle, and is Idaho's starting left tackle going into the 2006 season.

The only games he has not started in his career are games missed by injury.

We caught up with Nate after the Silver and Gold Spring Game to ask him about the progress made by the line this spring, and his role as Idaho's top left tackle.

PH: Nate, can you describe the biggest change in the blocking scheme that you guys are installing this spring?

NV: Probably one of the biggest things we're doing is really stretching out the field in the run game; stretching out the defense side-to-side, opening some lanes, and then getting our backs going north and south from there. I think that's really helping us stretch out the defense, and it will open up those inside zone plays a lot more for us. That's probably the biggest change I've noticed.

PH: Two years ago you were starting at right tackle for Idaho. You switched over to left tackle last year, and you're playing there again this season. Is left tackle a little bit more comfortable of a position for you?

NV: Yeah. I like the left side of the line probably better. I mean, you get used to whatever you're playing, and it just kind of gets comfortable, but I like being on the left side. It's kind of the offensive line position to be; protecting the blind side. That's fun.

PH: So what's changed in your style of play as a senior? Is the field looking different? Is the game looking different to you?

NV: The more experience I get it's starting to slow down a little bit, and you can really kind of see things happen early ... kind of read the defenses a little bit more, kind of read the defensive end's stances a little bit more to predict what they're going to do. So it's definitely easier as you get more experienced and know what's going on.

PH: Overall, is the offensive line playing a little bit more cohesively as a group as this spring camp progresses?

NV: Yeah. I think that we are. I mean, we only have one new addition. Adam Juratovac redshirted last year; so we've been around him for a while, but this is the first year that he's really been kind of mixing it up with the first offensive line. But for the most part we've all played together quite a bit, especially me and Jade [Tadvick] on the left side. We've played a lot of football together; so we have a lot of fun, a lot of continuity between the two of us.

PH: Is your role changing at all between Erickson's offense and what Nick Holt and Nate Kaczor were running last year?

NV: It's fairly similar. You know; block the D-end, try not to let him get to the quarterback, and go move some people in the run game.

PH: One last question. The defensive line looks like they're playing a lot better this year. Are they? Because you guys handled them fairly well in the past.

NV: Yeah. They're athletic. They can definitely move around, and they're quick. The guys inside are getting a lot stronger. They're getting some good push on us sometimes; so it's definitely making for a lot better battles during practice, and you know, it's just going to elevate both the offensive and defensive line's games; so then when we get into the real game situation it'll just be like going against our own defensive line now.

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