PHOTO GALLERY: Deonte Jackson

Redshirt freshman tailback DEONTE JACKSON certainly proved his durability and toughness Saturday night. In his first start at Idaho, Jackson recorded 99 rushing yards on 22 carries, with a long of 22 yards and an average of 4.5 yards per carry. All impressive stats considering the caliber of the opponent he was facing in the LA Memorial Coliseum.

PLAYER PROFILE: Deonte Jackson, 5-8, 181, RS-Fr, RB

We knew Deonte Jackson was having an outstanding fall camp and was coming off an impressive redshirt season (INSIDE SLANT: Last season Jackson reportedly was given the opportunity to burn his redshirt but elected to hang onto it until this fall). But we didn't expect him to put on quite the display he did Saturday night against USC. Everyone we came in contact with at the game - Idaho fans, USC fans, media, everyone - was impressed with the redshirt freshman from Warren, Arkansas.

Jackson ran with power, strength and patience against the most stacked defense he will see this season. He took several shots during an extremely physical game (delivering a few of his own along the way) and bounced back time and time again. He showed-off the swivel-hipped running style - and explosiveness - that elevated him to the top rung last spring and kept atop the chart throughout fall camp.

Above everything, he was patient in his first role as a starter, letting his line open holes for him rather than outrunning the blocking as is often the case with a first-year starter. Granted, holes filled up mighty fast in the Coliseum against this loaded Trojan defense. But Jackson was impressive as he exploited the creases and seams that materialized. Statistically, he exploded for a long of 22 yards on one carry, and lost a grand total of 3 yards in his 22 carries on the evening. If not for the three yards lost, he would have finished with 102 yards in his collegiate premier against one of the best defenses in the country.

Not a bad opening act.

Maintaining that type of performance this coming week in Dome will be crucial if this team is going to experience the type of success they've been training for this fall. Idaho will need this type of performance from Jackson - and the rest of the Vandal team - if they want to walk away from Saturday's game against Cal Poly with a victory. What the Mustangs lack in name recognition they will more than make up for with tough play.

They've been proving for years that they can compete with most teams at this level, knocking off UTEP in 2003 and San Diego State last season despite being a College Championship Subdivision program (formerly known as the 1AA Division). They are tough, and they will do everything they can to beat Idaho.

It's up to Idaho to prove that they can keep their intensity level, confidence, and poise up week-after-week.

Jackson will be a major part of that for sure.

SHOW OF STRENGTH: Jackson threw down a nice stiff arm to gain more yards on this carry.

PATIENCE PAYS OFF: Above is an excellent example of Jackson letting the big 'dawgs - Rimington Trophy candidate center Adam Korby (72) and monster left guard Mike Iupati - clear a path for him.

TURNS ON A DIME: Jackson shows his ability to change directions on the fly in the shots above, cutting back to take advantage of a seam developing in the middle of the field.

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