Idaho 101

IDAHO 101 is normally a remedial course, but after last weekend it would do the Cougs some good to brush up on the fundamentals. The Vandals are entering a new era with rookie head coach <b>Nick Holt</b> and will be entering a new conference next season. Additionally, they're showing some different looks than WSU is used to seeing.

They've switched to a spread offense, but appear more hesitant to throw the ball deep than in years past. Defensively they are still searching for an identity, but they already reflect the energy of their young coach and are hungry to bring him his first victory.

When: Saturday, September 18, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Martin Stadium (37,800 capacity)
TV: Live on Fox Sports NW
Last Meeting: 2003, WSU won 25-0
Line: WSU by 25

THE VANDALS ON OFFENSE

Players to Know:

Michael Harrington, QB: Harrington has a solid arm, but coach Holt appears to have the reigns on him pretty tight. He's thrown for just 192 yards in the first two games. Expect short controlled passes.

Jayson Bird, RB: If the Vandals try to take the air out of the ball, Bird should see a lot of carries. The freshman managed 94 yards last week in Utah and is becoming the central part of the Vandal offense.

Hank Theiren, LT: Theiren is Idaho's best lineman. Look for the Wreckers to direct the majority of their rushes to the left side to capitalize off his 6-7, 322 pound frame.

Overview: Idaho's offense has been horrible in its first two outings, managing just 14 total points so far. The team is transitioning to a new spread offense, and it hasn't worked. Most of the problems start up front where the Vandals are breaking in a very inexperienced offensive line. They currently feature three sophomores, a junior, and a freshman center in their starting offensive line.

Strategy: The Vandals know they can't win a shootout with the Cougars, so they will likely try to slow the game down, and minimize the number of opportunities WSU gets. The Cougs just need to do their thing and keep the Vandals out of the end zone.

THE VANDALS ON DEFENSE

Players to Know:

Mike Anderson, DE: The teams leading tackler from a year ago, Anderson was moved up from linebacker to try and give the Vandals a dangerous rush end. The move hasn't panned out so far and Anderson has yet to register a sack.

Cole Snyder, LB: Amidst a weak linebacker corps, Snyder has stepped up to become a playmaker. He was all over the field last week, registering 10 tackles and two sacks.

D.J. Dykes, SS: Against Boise State's passing attack, Dykes was the leading tackler and will likely be again if the Cougars test the Vandals through the air.

Overview: Holt has a good defensive mind, but he doesn't have a lot of material to work with. The Vandals have a couple of pretty good ends and at least one solid linebacker, but there are still a lot of holes in the unit. They rebounded from a crushing loss at Boise State and actually looked pretty solid against Utah State. Unfortunately for them, WSU's offensive talent and scheme is a lot closer to the Broncos than the Aggies.

Strategy: The pace of last week's 14-7 loss to Utah State was a lot more appealing to the Vandals than the 65-7 track meet they encountered in Boise. The coaching staff also found that this young team is capable of generating turnovers, picking off two passes and forcing three fumbles against the Aggies. While the Vandals will likely run a conservative offensive package, expect them to be aggressive on defense. Snyder is going to be sent on a lot of blitzes, and the Vandal corners will be looking to pick off passes as opposed to simply playing containment.

THE VANDALS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

Michael Barrow has taken over all of the kicking duties for Idaho. As a punter he has managed a solid 41.6 yards per attempt, but he has yet to make a field goal.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, there is so little talent to speak of; it is difficult to find a reason to fear this Vandal squad. But it's important to remember that they beat the Cougs back in 2000 amidst very similar circumstances. At the time Washington State was 1-1 with a daredevil freshman QB named Jason Gesser. Idaho was 0-3 with a first year head coach. Despite racking up more yards, WSU was unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities and suffered from poor kicking. Sound a little too familiar?

The Cougars should be wary of approaching this game as merely a chance to work out the kinks in the offense, rather than an opportunity to secure an important win in their hunt for a bowl game. The Cougar players must execute dominance over the Vandal lines and avoid costly turnovers that could give Idaho a chance keep the game close.


Cougfan Top Stories