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2017 Idaho Preview

Discussion in 'Idaho Vandals' started by Cave_Johnson, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    Raise The Bar. That's the motto of the University of Idaho football team this year. And for the first time in a long time that's something that's going to be difficult to do as the Vandals come off what was arguably the best FBS season in school history. Last year Idaho tied the school record for wins at the FBS level, won 7 of their last 8 games, and finished with a 5 game winning streak en route to a Potato Bowl ass raping of Colorado State (who looked pretty damn good against Oregon State last Saturday, just saying).

    Man, I'm just imagining some guy in 2012 telling me that Paul Petrino is going to turn Idaho's scorching Port-o-Potty of a program around and win 9 games in his fourth year.

    I would have had to make sure that guy didn't have his dick stuck in Amanda Bynes. Because I would have thought that guy was fucking crazy.

    I would have had an easier time believing that Donald Trump would win the presidency.

    I would have had an easier time believing that a woman actually won the Olympic Decathlon in 1976 without any of us knowing.

    I would have had an easier time believing that Matt Ryan not only made it to a Super Bowl, but won the game in blowout fashion without choking and making everybody chuckle at the irony of his nickname being "Matty Ice".

    Wait.....that last one actually didn't happen. Oh shit...starting to have flashbacks to February again....FUCK. FUCK YOU MATT RYAN! PIECE OF SHIT!!! HOW DO YOU TAKE A SACK THERE!????! RUN THE FUCKING BALL SHANAHAN!!!!! JESUS F-.........okay sorry. Never really got that out of my system.

    The point is, Paul Petrino has worked wonders with this program. His motto from last year, "Expect to Win", is something you can see in these players now. I'll be the first to admit I was skeptical of Paul at first. The whole Dez Epps situation didn't help. But shit, this guy can coach and he has the team moving forward in the right direction. As long as he sticks around I have confidence that this team can succeed as an FBS independent.

    Wait....that's not right....oh shit....getting flashbacks to April 2016.....FUCK. FUCK YOU CHUCK STABEN!!! YOU FUCKING HUMAN COLOSTOMY BAG!!!! WHY?!?! WHY?!?! MAKE THIS DECISION SO SOON?!?? WHY FUCK THE PROGRAM OVER?!!? YOU ILLITERATE RANCID VAGINA!! HOLY SH-......alright well that's enough of that bit.

    I'm going to try to not bring up too much of the FCS bullshit this season unless it's relevant. I want to throw up every time I think about that. Let's get to the position breakdowns.
     



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  2. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    QB

    Surprise, surprise. No controversy here. Matt Linehan started off real sluggish last season but finished strong as he ended the year with a career high in yards, TDs, and completions. The 2016 Sun Belt second-team all-conference QB comes into this season at 2nd place in terms of active FBS players in career passing yards and total offense (He's second to Palouse neighbor Luke Falk in both). That's depending on where you look I guess. He's right around the same area as Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph and the numbers get a bit sketchy in college sometimes.

    Anyway Matt got short-changed IMO regarding pre-season all-conference selections. Hopefully he uses that as fuel to put up some solid numbers in his senior season. He's going to have to stay healthy though. Should be a bit easier this year as Linehan packed on about 20 pounds in the offseason and isn't coming into the home opener nursing a leg injury.

    And let's hope he doesn't go down because, like last year, there ain't much behind him. Well, it's definitely better than last year but there's still a huge drop off from Matt to whomever would end up replacing him as starter.

    Right now Mason Petrino is on the depth chart as the #2 QB mostly because his daddy wants to redshirt two true freshmen. The plan is to have Mason sub in for Matt if a game gets out of hand or if Matt has to be out for a play or two. If Matt goes down for multiple games we'll see someone's redshirt get burned. Whether that redshirt would belong to Dylan Lemle (a three star dual-threat recruit from California) or Colton Richardson (a 6-4 pocket passer from Lewiston) is anybody's guess.

    Let's just hope we don't have to find out who won that freshman QB battle.

    Worth noting is that Gunnar Amos transferred to Idaho State after being moved from QB to safety this spring/fall. AJ Woodin is also on the roster as a QB but won't be doing much other than holding placekicks.
     
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  3. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    RB

    This position also seems pretty clear cut if you look at the box score of Idaho's last five games of the season. Isaiah Saunders averaged 23 carries, 112 yards, and 1.6 TD's a game during that winning streak. It's no coincidence Idaho averaged 41 ppg over that period and won the time of possession battle in every game. Saunders was an absolute workhorse down the stretch and this is his job to lose.

    That doesn't mean we won't see plenty of Aaron Duckworth however. Overall Duckworth's season long numbers matched those of Saunders pretty closely. Both had about 700 yards and average around 4.6 ypc. Saunders however reached the end zone 3 more times. Expect Duckworth to be the change of pace guy this season. He's got more explosion in him than Saunders, but Saunders is going to be the guy who puts teams away this year and punishes them in the second half.

    Worth noting also is that Denzal Brantley converted to safety during spring ball. He was sort of getting pushed out of the RB position with freshman Dylan Thigpin making a big impression. Brantley showed of a ton of tackling ability on special teams last year though and appears that he may end up being the enforcer in the secondary as he will start as a DB against Sac St on Thursday.
     
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  4. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    WRs and TEs

    Finally, an area where there are some questions. It's no secret that Idaho is losing the vast majority of their receiving yards this season. 4 of the top 5 receivers from last year are gone. That includes TEs Deon Watson and Buck Cowan as well as WRs Jordan Frysinger and Callen Hightower.

    They'll be tough to replace but the projected top 3 WRs for the Vandals are't lacking in the experience department. Alfonso Onunwor, Reuben Mwehla, and Jacob Sannon are all seniors who saw the field plenty last season. Onunwor returns with the most receiving yards at 403. He'll be the #1, flanker, and the biggest threat for big plays down field. Sannon will fill in as the possession slot guy (he was great in this role in the Potato Bowl, catching 2 TDs), and Mwehla will fill in at Split End. Look for a lot of screens to go his way.

    Other receivers that will get some time include Pullman High products David Ungerer and Mason Petrino (pulling double duty) and Jante Boston. All undersized, quick WRs.

    As far as TE goes we're in a whole other dimension compared to last season. Cowan and Watson were both converted WRs who split out about as often as they lined up in the classic TE position. Both had the necessary height for the position, but lacked a bit in the bulk department and we're great blockers.

    That changes a lot this year. Sophomores Joe Wysocki (6-2 230) and Alex James (6-6 230) are both more comfortable lining up and clubbing people in the run game than catching balls. However James' size in particular leads me to believe they'll get their fair share thrown their way this season.

    Expect a few more 2 TE sets this season.
     
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  5. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    FB

    Senior Josh Herman will handle fullback duties, and in this offense that means a lot of blocking in short yardage situations. Herman had one catch for two yards last year and that was the only time he touched the ball. He's been solid as a run blocker from what I can tell though. Not much else to say here.
     
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  6. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    OL

    Here's where we get to talk about the first of Idaho's 3 first or second-team preseason all-Sun Belt selections. OT Jordan Rose is a beast coming in at 6-6 and 325 lbs and returns as a starter for the...third year? Can't remember how much time he got in 2015. Anyway, this guy has some NFL aspirations but he needs to learn to control his temper. He tends to get worked up too much but he's the best O-lineman on the team and maybe the conference.

    Idaho only returns one other starter on the OL from that season and that's the guy playing guard next to Rose on the strong side, Noah Johnson. Johnson is only a sophomore but was possibly the second best lineman on the team last year next to Rose. I expect to see a lot of running play hit that strong side of the O-line this season.

    Newcomers this year will include redshirt freshman and Boise native Conner Vrba. He'll have some big shoes to fill stepping in for Steven Matlock who started for I believe four years for Idaho. Vrba has looked solid in practice but I'll feel more comfortable with him once we see him in game action.

    Zion Dixon fills in the quick guard position after seeing a decent amount of snaps last year in rotational play. He's about the same size as Johnson at the other guard position and with the experience under his belt I expect him to be fine. Maxim Moore was a pretty highly coveted recruit who may or may not see some time at guard as a true freshman.

    Quick tackle is where we have the biggest competition between the smaller, speedier sophomore Sean Tulette and the larger JC transfer Irving Schuster. Might just come down to preference in this one. Both have their upsides but I think Schuster has the higher ceiling. I'd like to see him get the start against Sac St. to work him into the offense.
     
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  7. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    Offense Summary: QB and RB will not be a concern for Idaho this year but they may go through some early season issues getting their new group of WRs and TEs in rhythm and getting new faces on the O-line to gel. Sac St. should be a good warm up and UNLV will provide a real measuring stick in the second week.

    Overall I think the O-line should be fine but I do worry about depth at WR if say, Onunwar goes down. Guess we'll just have to hope that doesn't happen.
     
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  8. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    On to defense!

    D-Line

    Here we find the second first or second-team all-Sun Belt selection and last year's Sun Belt Newcomer of the year Aikeem Coleman. Some may remember him from Last Chance U at EMCC and some (namely Montana State's QB's) might remember him from sitting on their chest. This guy is a beast and will definitely be something that opposing offenses have to game-plan around at DE.

    Senior Arie Anderson replaces Jacksonville Jaguar (for now) Tueni Lupeamanu at NT. Admittedly Anderson is a bit undersized here but I'm just going to have to trust his experience on this defense.

    DT will I guess be a competition between Zach Cable (son of Tom) and DJ Henderson (another EMCC guy). Gotta say I expected Henderson to take this battle, but Cable has been here for years and I guess his experience may be what's keeping him in the starting rotation.

    Worthy of note: Luther Elliss took over as D-line coach this season. Pretty cool get. Dude was a stud at Utah and now has two sons on the team.
     
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  9. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    LB

    This is the most exciting position group on the team IMO and the one with the most depth. Sun Belt preseason second-team all-conference LB Tony Lashley and the still somehow criminally underrated Kaden Elliss lead this group which is likely the best LB corps in the conference. Elliss is a turnover machine and great in pass coverage while Lashley is physical force who lead the team in tackles last season. Ed Hall is another Junior LB who walked on at Idaho and has quickly become one of the better LB's in the league. Senior Leonard Hazewood finishes off the starting LBs although freshman Charles Akanno will also compete for time.

    Lots of experience here to love but this group is also rich with young talent. Kaden's freshman brother Christian Elliss, sophomore Ty Graham, and Matt's sophomore brother Mike Linehan add a lot of depth to this stacked position group.

    Should be fun as hell to watch.
     
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  10. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    Secondary

    Okay, so pass defense was a huge weakness for Idaho last season. And with only one real returning starter in the secondary you'd think I'd be really worried. But I'm not. Well.....maybe a little but I do think this group has a ton of potential. CB Lloyd Hightower and FS Armond Hawkins both got their share of playing time last season but Hightower was definitely on the field more. Enough for me to call him a returning starter and Hawkins a new starter. Hightower impressed me a lot as a freshman so I'm expecting big things there. This kid is quick as shit. Hawkins has had his fair share of struggles but made some big plays towards the end of last season. I believe he may have turned the corner.

    The other safety position will be filled by converted RB Denzal Brantley. From what I understand the coaches have been blown with how fast this guy picked up the SS position. The dude has been a hammer on special teams in the past, is athletic enough to chase down WRs in the defensive backfield, and won the SS position pretty handily. After the improvement I've seen with the D the last two years I'll trust that Mike Breske knows what he's doing (there are some words that probably haven't been uttered before).

    The second CB position will go to Dorian Clarke who was likely the best DB on the team last season. Unfortunately he missed the entire year due to injury. He's a Junior with plenty of experience so I expect some solid play from this guy.

    Jalen Hoover is another guy to watch at safety this year. Really talented freshman.

    Jordan Grabski also returns from his...what? Third consecutive year missing significant playing time due to injury? Well, he provides some experience and depth but he seems to sometimes shy away from contact. I'm hoping Hawks and/or Brantley don't go down.
     
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  11. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    P/K

    This might be the biggest area of concern for the Vandals as they've been able to rely on the leg of Austin Rehkow for four straight years now. In that time he was a very consistent placekicker under 50 yards and IMO the best punter in the country. He will be sorely missed, and god dammit if he doesn't picked up by some team in the NFL.

    Oh yeah, he got cut by the Bills a week back just FYI. He's on campus now I think.

    Rehkow is replaced in both aspects by Cade Coffrey, a local kid from Rathdrum, Idaho. I don't have much info on this guy other than he didn't look terrible and made all the short-medium range FGs he was asked to make in the scrimmage. Idaho has had some luck with really solid punters (Rehkow, Cowan, and Conley) and kickers (Amancio, Farqhaur, and of course Rehkow) lately. If Rehkow is indeed on campus then hopefully he's giving this Coffrey kid some tips. Rehkow was a huge weapon last season and it would be nice to keep that special teams advantage this year.
     
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  12. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    Defense Summary: The LB corps will be stronger than ever this season however there are concerns with losses along the D-line and in the secondary. The presence of Aikeem Coleman on at DE helps alleviate some of the stress on the newer guys at DT and NT but I remain a bit worried about stuffing the run after losing two huge interior D-linemen. Depth may also be an issue later in the season.

    The secondary has a lot of talent but there are some concerns with players in new positions and guys coming off injuries. Can't be a whole lot worse than last year back there though so the DBs don't worry me as much as the DL playing against the run.

    The talent, depth, and versatility of the LB corps should keep this defensive group from being bad but I think they D as a whole may get fatigued in long, physical games this season. Brantley, Elliss, Hall, Lashley, and Coleman are all a blast to watch though and have the ability to make huge impacts on games. I'm looking at these five to cause a lot of turnovers like they did last season and keep the defense off the field enough for this unit to stay rested and healthy enough to have a real solid year.
     
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  13. Cave_Johnson

    Cave_Johnson #1 Bob Saget Fan

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    Game-By-Game Predictions (for now):

    vs. Sac St. W
    vs. UNLV W
    @ WMU L
    @ USA L
    vs. ULL W
    vs. App St. L
    @ Mizzou L
    vs. ULM W
    @ Troy L
    vs. CCU W
    @ NMSU W
    @ Ga. St. W

    7-5 (5-3), bowl bound

    I sure hope they start the season strong unlike last year. I've predicted them to do worse than they've done the past two seasons so I hope that trend continues. Don't want to jinx them.

    Obvious losses up there to App. St., Troy, and Mizzou. WMU I think is till too good even without Fleck, Terrell, and Corey Davis. They'll take that one. USA is a mystery to me but I just have a feeling they beat Idaho on the road.

    Sac St. SHOULD be a straightforward win on paper, but I don't want to get ahead of myself here. I have a game preview left to write.

    I like Idaho at home this year a lot playing in front of fans witnessing their last FBS season so I'm taking any questionable games at home in Idaho's favor. That means W's against UNLV, ULL, ULM, and CCU.

    Taking the Vandals to finish strong again this year as well against NMSU and Georgia State too. Idaho played well on the road against teams they were supposed to beat last year.
     
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