Idaho will look similar offensively to Illinois with a shotgun based spread offense, and even mixes in a little bit of a hurry up aspect. The Vandals have some nice weapons at wide receiver as well as the very talented RS (Fr.) QB Matt Linehan. This high potency passing attack averages 319.5 YPG through the air, and likes to take advantage of all areas of the field.
Matt Linehan is the son of Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Scott Linehan, who is a former quarterback for the Vandals himself. Matt is completing just over 60 percent of his passes for 1,278 yards and has thrown for nine touchdowns, and eight interceptions so far this season. When he gets the proper protection, Linehan can make you pay with his above average accuracy, ability to throw on the run, and really nice touch on the deep ball. The one thing that has held back Linehan is his lack of protection, as he has been sacked 18 times in just four games.
Linehan's success has a good part to do with the speed of his receivers and their ability to create space. (Sr.) Josh McCain is Linehan''s favorite target, leading the team in all receiving categories, with 28 catches for 443 yards and six of the eight passing scores on the season for the Vandals. McCain (6'2 177-pounds) was a quarterback just last season, however he has made the transition very smoothly, with his understanding of coverages and most of all, his pure athleticism. McCain recorded 4.4 times coming out of HS and one would only assume he has improved upon those through collegiate conditioning programs. Look for Linehan and McCain to take some deep shots down field, and get him involved often.
Idaho is averaging 24.5 points per game, while only averaging 64.5 yards on the ground and two yards per rush. Illinois and Tulsa both put up season high number against the Bobcats rushing the ball, however expect (Sr.) LB David Mayo to have another big game, filling holes and taking advantage of an unproven Vandals running game.
Idaho has really struggled this season, giving up a whopping 38.2 points per game against their 4-3 defense. Idaho can be characterized by slow starts on both sides of the ball, being out scored in the first quarter, 56-14.
The Vandals are giving up an average of 224.5 yards per game on the ground this season, stemming from their inability to make tackles. In the red zone the Vandals have only made two stops and are giving up an 88 percent conversion rate. The secondary slightly more successful in their coverage of the pass, however they have only been able to manage two interceptions so far this season.
(Jr.) MLB Marc Millan leads the team in tackles with 37, and does his best to get involved in stopping the run. Millan is a 6'1 218-pound speed guy, that has the ability to get sideline to sideline. DB Jayshawn Jordan, is second on the team in tackles, but is a bit undersized at 5'9" 184lbs. Look for the Bobcats to take advantage of this match-up when he lines up against WR's Ben Ijah and Brice Gunter, who are both 6'3 a piece, giving them a 6 inch height advantage.
Keys To Victory
For the Bobcats to pull out the victory at home, offensively they must simply not beat themselves. Tyler Jones and seemingly whoever the Bobcats play at running back should be able to run freely against this Idaho team. Tyler must continue to be smart with the football and limit turnovers, while the RB's must secure the ball. If the Bobcats can put some points up early, they must finish the Vandals, to prevent another late game comeback.
Defensively, Texas State must get pressure on Linehan, and prevent big plays down field. Linehan is an exceptional deep ball passer and the Bobcats must limit the time he has to sit in the pocket and stretch the field. D-End Michael Odiari has to have another big game for the Bobcats, and must expound upon his career performance last week at Tulsa. Overall this is a game the Bobcats absolutely should not lose, and should have things handled early in this one.