BOWL PREVIEW: Idaho vs Bowling Green

IT'S HERE, HUMANITARIAN BOWL GAMEDAY! Idaho hasn't been waiting for this day for a few weeks...they've been waiting for 10 years. With a First Team All-American and Outland Trophy Finalist in guard Mike Iupati, and a potent passing attack led by quarterback Nathan Enderle and wide receiver Max Komar, the Vandals take aim at the WAC's first bowl win and a triumph on the national stage on ESPN.

The 7-5 University of Idaho football team will be heading to familiar territory when they meet up with 7-5 Bowling Green in the Boise based Humanitarian Bowl. Hosted at Bronco Stadium, this Bowl is not for fair weather football fans. It's cold in Idaho during December, and a possibility of snow during the game. Still, this game promises to be a high scoring affair and a show that fans will remember.

Traveling to Boise might be far for some Bowling Green fans, but Vandal fans will be out in force, as Boise and the Treasure Valley is home to a great number of Idaho alumni. Not to mention the 2009 regular season, for the Vandals, is one to remember. Coach Akey came into the program with the promise of change and Bowl games, and in three short years he has delivered. There is no better location – outside of Moscow - for the vandals to showcase their football team. It's time for Vandal fans to come out and show their appreciation for everything the coaches and players have done during their 2009 campaign. If they can end the season with a win, it will create even more momentum for next year's season -- and the sky is the limit for the Tribe from the North!

There is one obvious difference between the two programs. The Vandals lost four out of their last five games, while the Falcons were on a terror, winning their last four games. Momentum is obviously on Bowling Green's side, but the Vandals will have a healthy Nathan Enderle back from injury, and that should provide the Vandal faithful with the boost needed to win this game. As far as similarities are concerned, each team sports a nationally recognized athlete. The Vandal's offensive guard Mike Iupati was an Outland Trophy finalist and a consensus First Team All-American, while Bowling Green's Freddie Barnes was a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award. Each award represents the highest of praise and national recognition for their positions. That alone makes this Bowl unique, as it has two of the nation's best taking the field.

Both teams are capable of putting up points, so weather permitting, there should be plenty of action and highlights during the game.

Vandal fans are happy to have a healthy team heading into the bowl game. Some key players will return to the field making the chances for victory much more probable. Most importantly, starting Quaterback Nathan Enderle will be back under center. Voted the Offensive Player of the Year by his teammates, he is a difference maker. Enderle has all the tools to play at the next level. He has size, arm strength, accuracy and is showing poise in the pocket as well as good decision making. Given the chemistry between he and the receivers, the offense should have no problem moving the ball through the air.

Max Komar has had a senior campaign to remember, including Second Team All-WAC recognition for a season that has included over 1000 yards receiving on the year. Komar's precise route running and speed has been hard for anyone to contain, and he should have a big day against the Bowling Green Defense. The usual cast of characters in Eric Greenwood, Daniel Hardy, Maurice Shaw and Preston Davis should all make their mark as Enderle loves to spread the ball around.

Deonte Jackson, Princeton McCarty and DeMaundray Woolridge will once again take care of running the rock duties. With it being Woolridge and most of the offensive line's fairwell tour, expect to see the bruising back being featured behind this senior laden offensive line. This game will boil down to which offense makes the most of their opportunities. It's the same situation Idaho has been in most of the year. With a few key defensive stops, and a dominant offensive performance, this could very well be a Bowl win for the Vandals. A well rested Vandal squad should make it a long day for the Bowling Green defense.

But the same can be said for an explosive Bowling Green offense.

The Vandals will have the task of stopping receiver Freddie Barnes, and that is easier said than done. Barnes has been nothing short of spectacular for the Falcons, leading the nation in receptions with 138 catches for 1,551 yards. He's athletic, fast and has great hands, which is a deadly combination - especially against a defense that has struggled the second half of the season. You can't have one without the other, and Falcon quarterback Tyler Sheehan has turned in a great year, averaging a stunning 310 passing yards per game. He's completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,664 yards.

Suffice to say, they are explosive.

And runningback Willie Geter is no slouch either. He's another dual threat back. Not the biggest back in the world, but he's fast and he's good at running between the tackles, as well as catching the ball out of the backfield.

The Vandals will have safety Jeromy Jones and cornerback Aaron Grymes back in the fold and healthy for the first time in weeks, which should help tremendously. Jones and Shiloh Keo are a physical tandem of safeties, so Bowling Green will earn their yards one at a time against these guys. Grymes is probably the best cover corner on the Vandal defense (and is among the fastest players on the team), but Isaac Butts provides a more physical element. They will switch off duties depending on the situation. But for the defense, this game will be a good test, no doubt. A much needed test. As young as they are, the Vandals can use this Bowl opportunity to finish an otherwise up and down season on a positive note. The defensive line and the linebacking corps for Idaho are both being challenged, as this Bowl game has been labeled an offensive clinic. Tackles for loss and quarterback sacks are not supposed to happen...but they must for an Idaho win.


IN SUMMARY…

Coach Akey said he would turn things around in Vandalville.

He has.

Now the Vandals are facing a team very similar to who they are – a team on the rise. A team that doesn't give up until the last whistle is blown. The Vandals are facing Bowling Green, in a Bowl game, in IDAHO! As far as turnaround seasons are concerned, this 2009 Vandal football team has provided a season filled with excitement, and what better way to end it than with a Bowl win? They deserve a monumental showing by their fanbase.

They've earned it.

Let's send the team off the right way and pack Bronco Stadium full of Vandal gear and Vandal cheer! Let's show this stadium how it's done.

There ain't no bandwagon… just the Tribe from the North doing what they do best; bleeding silver and Vandal gold.

GO VANDALS!




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