2011 Idaho Preview – Offense

Posted Jul 28, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Idaho Vandal Offense

Idaho Vandals

Preview 2011 - Offense

- 2011 Idaho Preview | 2011 Idaho Offense
- 2011 Idaho Defense | 2011 Idaho Depth Chart
What You Need To Know: The offense bombed away last season finishing tenth in the nation in passing, but it came at the expense of a running game that did next to nothing. Gone is QB Nathan Enderle and almost all the top receivers, but Brian Reader is a veteran who's able to step in an push the ball all over the field. The backfield is full of quick backs who could crank out big yards if given room to move, but the line has to be far better. Both starting tackles return, and they have to improve in pass protection to give Reader time to work. The tight ends will be great in the passing attack, but a few key wide receives have to emerge right away to take the pressure off Preston Davis.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Brian Reader
42-71, 568 yds, 5 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Princeton McCarty
89 carries, 380 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Preston Bailey
31 catches, 267 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Brian Reader
Player who has to step up and be a star: Redshirt freshman C Mike Marboe
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Jordan Johnson
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Preston Davis (as a returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reader, 2) OT Tyrone Novikoff, 3) Davis
Strength of the offense: Passing Game, Quick Backs
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, No. 2 Wide Receiver


State of the Unit: The Idaho passing game was tenth in the nation, partly because it was good and partly because it needed to bomb away to try to keep up with a defense that gave up points and yards in chunks. Gone is big bomber Nathan Enderle, who threw for 3,314 yards and 22 touchdowns with 16 interceptions on the way to becoming a fifth round pick by Chicago, but the Vandals have more large passers ready to step in and take over.

Ready to step in is 6-3, 224-pound senior Brian Reader, a longtime backup who saw a little bit of time last year and was terrific completing 42-of-71 passes for 568 yards and five touchdowns with an interception. The former JUCO transfer showed he could move the offense without a problem when needed, but now he has to go from being the No. 2 to the main man. He's not a runner, but he's better on the move than Enderle.

Also bringing the decent size is 6-2, 233-pound sophomore Taylor Davis. The No. 3 man last year, he didn't get to throw any passes, but he's the quarterback of the near future with a live arm and the polish to be ready to go when needed. An Elite 11 camper, he's one of the greatest quarterback prospects the program has ever brought in.

Because the Idaho quarterbacks weren't big enough, in comes 6-5, 263-pound JUCO transfer Dominique Blackman, a huge passer who started out his career at Old Dominion before going the JUCO route and throwing for 3,711 yards and 35 touchdowns with six rushing scores for Los Angeles Harbor College. A pure pro-style passer, he has the arm, the size, and the mobility to be an interesting option.

Watch Out For … Davis. There might be other options, but Davis was a top recruit who might be ready to step in and take over right now if needed. Reader is the No. 1, but Davis is a close second.
Strength: Size. Logan Bushnell is 6-2 and 202 pounds, and he's the lightweight of the bunch. The Vandals recruit to a type, and they're loaded with 6-3ish, 230-pound bombers.
Weakness: The backup situation. 6-6, 253-pound redshirt freshman Justin Podrabsky has upside, but he hasn't seen any time. Bushnell and Davis also need to see action and reps. Next year it should be a huge battle for the starting gig.
Outlook: Reader knows what he's doing and he's ready to step into Enderle's job to become the next big Idaho bomber. The quarterbacks will throw picks – that's what Vandal quarterbacks do – but they'll push the ball all over the field. Reader will be fine, but a steady backup has to be found.
Unit Rating: 7

Running Backs

State of the Unit: The Idaho running game will always be along for the ride with the passing attack controlling the offense, but there are some speedy, shifty backs who can produce when given the chance. Gone is leading rusher Deonte Jackson, who ran for just 442 yards and four scores, but there's promise and potential if the attack finally starts feeding the ground game.

Ready to step into a big role is 5-9, 209-pound Arizona State transfer Ryan Bass, a good back for the Sun Devils as a true freshman running for 120 yards with a team-leading 4.6 yards per carry. A big-time recruit for ASU after running for 47 touchdowns as a high school senior, he's extremely fast, has nice hands, and has a nose for finding the hole. He should be a perfect fit for the Vandal attack.

Senior Princeton McCarty is a small, shifty 5-8, 195-pound back who tore off 680 yards two seasons ago and ran for 380 yards and three touchdowns in a more limited role last year. He caught 15 passes for 116 yards, but he didn't break off any big plays and wasn't the impact player he was supposed to be. With 4.32 speed and cut-on-a-dime quickness, he should be a home run hitter.

5-9, 203-pound senior Kama Bailey is one of the nation's top kickoff returners averaging 24.4 yards per try last year after setting the 2008 single season record and holding the school's all-time record for yardage. He also finished as the team's third-leading rusher averaging 7.2 yards per carry with 290 yards and a score and was fourth on the team with 31 catches for 326 yards and two scores.

Watch Out For … Bailey. He's been a great all-around weapon and a terrific receiver over the last few years, and now he'll get his chances as the main back. However, if Bass shows he can be a threat on the ground, there will be more of a rotation.
Strength: Quick speed backs. There isn't a thumper in the lot, but Bailey, Bass, and McCarty can all scoot and they can all cut on a dime. Get them in space and they can come up with big plays.
Weakness: The offense. The line didn't do anything last year to get the ground game going, and the numbers suffered with just 1,146 yards and 12 touchdowns and a team average of 3.1 yards per carry.
Outlook: The Idaho running game will never be anything special, but the attack featured a 1,000-yard rusher (Deonte Jackson) four years ago and could have a good rotation of talented veterans if they're fed the ball enough. The backs are better than the production will be.
Unit Rating: 5


State of the Unit: The Vandals have to replace most of the key parts from last year's passing game with Eric Greenwood, tight end Daniel Hardy, and Maurice Shaw all gone. The leading returning receiver, Kama Bailey, is a running back. There are some dangerous targets returning, and the offense uses several receivers, but there's work to do.

Senior Preston Davis was supposed to blow up in the Slot last year, but he suffered an offseason knee injury and came up with just 31 catches for 267 yards and a score averaging just 8.6 yards per grab. He has 6-2, 200-pound size and excellent speed, but he hasn't been able to live up to the hype of being one of the team's biggest recruits in 2008. Now he has to be the No. 1 target as the team's top veteran, while 5-10, 167-pound junior Marsel Posey is a quick, shifty target who's back after catching three passes for 30 yards in two games before getting knocked out for the year with a knee injury. Also trying to get back into the equation is 5-11, 180-pound junior Justin Veltung, a 4.39 speedster and the 2009 Washington state high school long jump champ who caught 25 passes for 497 yards and eight scores despite having problems with a knee injury.

Taking over at the outside X position is senior Armauni Johnson, a 6-4, 198-pound former JUCO transfer who caught 21 passes for 319 yards and three scores. All three of the touchdowns came in the first four games, and then he was average the rest of the way good for around two catches a game. With his size and speed, he needs to be more of a matchup problem, while 6-3, 200-pound sophomore Daniel Micheletti, is a tall, physical receiver who didn't catch a pass last year, but can move. New recruit Marquan Major is a 6-3, 175-pound target out of Las Vegas who can play anywhere in the corps and can come up with the big play. He would've been a top prospect who could've gone to a much bigger program, but teams got scared off after he was injured as a junior.

Stepping in at one of the tight end spots, the H, is 6-2, 247-pound sophomore Michael LaGrone, a blocker who caught 13 passes with a touchdown. A strong, physical target, he can push his way into the open on short to midrange pass plays, while 5-11, 241-pound senior Derek Wieting is a former defensive lineman who has worked mostly on special teams and now will be a part of the rotation.

6-4, 244-pound sophomore Taylor Elmo turned into a nice backup tight end catching 18 passes for 148 yards and two scores. A former high school quarterback, he spent the last two years becoming a good prospect at the Y, and now he should be one of the team's leading midrange targets. He'll be backed up by Clayton Homme, a 6-6, 247-pound sophomore who saw a little time in eight games and caught a six-yard pass. He has good size and nice hands as a decent, big receiving option.

Watch Out For … Johnson. The Vandals need a deep threat and a weapon on the outside, and that means Johnson needs to be a factor as a field stretcher. With his size and speed, the potential is there to be a breakout star.
Strength: Tight end. The Vandals use a few different tight ends and like to go with a regular rotation. Elmo is a great-looking prospect who should do more now that he'll get more opportunities, while LaGrone and Homme should be excellent security targets.
Weakness: Sure-thing receivers. Greenwood, Hardy, and Shaw combined for 110 catches for 1,696 yards and nine scores. While those aren't irreplaceable numbers, averaging over 15 yards per grab between three key starters is a lot. New playmakers have to emerge.
Outlook: It was a deep receiving corps last year and many, many players got involved. Including receivers and tight ends, 12 Vandals had 12 catches or more. Once again there will be a good rotation with several players getting their chances, but stars need to emerge. Davis has to be a No. 1 and Johnson has to become great.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: The offensive line hasn't done much in pass protection over the last few years and didn't do much of anything for the ground game last season, which finished 118th in the nation averaging 88 yards per game. The line had to replace four starters, including Mike Iupati, and now it's a veteran group with three starters returning. That doesn't mean the production will be better, but the line will be more experienced.

Senior Matt Cleveland started every game at left tackle over the last two seasons and will get the call again as the anchor of the line. At 6-4 and 306 pounds he has good size and has been around long enough to know what he's doing after missing the entire 2008 season hurt. He has to be better in pass protection, but he can hit. He'll be backed up by 6-4, 315-pound sophomore Spencer Beale, a large blocker with a big frame and good upside at either tackle job.

Also returning to his starting tackle job is senior Tyrone Novikoff, a massive 6-7, 313-pound blocker on the right side who started every game last year. A decent, smart veteran with a long frame that's tough to get around, he should be better with two years of experience since having problems with a shoulder injury. He's a high-character player who can be relied on. 6-4, 345-pound JUCO transfer Brady Lisoski is a massive blocker who was terrific for Butte College, while 6-6, 291-pound redshirt freshman Kyle Salm is ready to make an impact with great run blocking skills and excellent smarts.

Senior Sam Tupua fought through a shoulder injury but ended up starting ten times at right guard in place of Mike Iupati. The former JUCO transfer slimmed down to 345 pounds after getting as high as 374 pounds, and now he's even more agile. Versatile, he could play center if needed. 6-2, 301-pound sophomore Guy Reynolds is a smaller more agile option, but he needs to get over the shoulder injury that sidelined him all of last year.

Stepping in at center is redshirt freshman Mike Marboe, a nice recruit who'll be asked to be the leader of the line right away. At 6-2 and 299 pounds he has decent size and good upside, but he has to prove he can handle the work from Day One, while 6-7, 306-pound true freshman Brian Westrum is a tackle-sized blocker who'll get every shot at the job in the middle.

6-7, 313-pound sophomore Jordan Johnson isn't built like a guard, but he'll work at right guard where he could be a decent pass protector with a little time. Consistency will be his key, but he has to fight off 6-3, 282-pound junior Bilal Liggins, who has seen a little time and should be one of the team's more physical blockers.

Watch Out For … the newcomers. Lisoski is being brought in to see time right away, and he could end up working at guard. 6-1, 285-pound JUCO transfer A.J. Jones isn't huge, but he's experienced and is ready-made for a guard job. Westrum is promising and will be a factor sooner than later.
Strength: Size. As always, the Vandals are loaded with really, really big bodies. Both projected starters on the right side go 313 pounds, while Tupua is a massive blocker on the left side.
Weakness: Blocking. The line was lousy two years ago in pass protection, even with a NFL first round draft pick at guard. But the Vandals gave up 25 sacks, and last year they allowed 45 and did nothing for the ground game.
Outlook: The line had to undergo an overhaul last year with four new starters, and it showed in a rocky, inconsistent year. Three starters are back for the big line, and while this won't be a brick wall of a line, it should be a better. Having both starting tackles back is the biggest plus.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2011 Idaho Preview | 2011 Idaho Offense
- 2011 Idaho Defense | 2011 Idaho Depth Chart