2012 Idaho Preview - Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Idaho Vandals Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know:
New offensive coordinator Jason Gesser, the former Washington State quarterback, has a ton of work to do. First and foremost, the Vandals have to get their passing game back after an inefficient and ineffective season. The receiving corps needs to come up with more big plays, and the running game has to be more effective with former Arizona State transfer Ryan Bass needing to stay healthy. The line is huge, but it has a ton of holes to fill and the production has to be far, far better than it's been in years. The quarterback situation will be a question mark going into the fall with Dominique Blackman, Taylor Davis, and several untested prospects all getting a shot.
Star of the offense: Senior WR Mike Scott
Passing: Taylor Davis
28-62, 234 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Ryan Bass
44 carries, 175 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Mike Scott
55 catches, 691 yds, 2 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Taylor Davis and/or junior QB Dominique Blackman
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C Mike Marboe
Best pro prospect: Marboe
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Scott, 2) TE Mike LaGrone, 3) Marboe
Strength of the offense: Line Size, Quarterback Size
Weakness of the offense: Big Plays, Blocking
Junior Taylor Davis got in a little bit of playing time last year and struggled, completing just 45% of his passes for 234 yards and a touchdown with four interceptions. At 6-3 and 233 pounds he has good size and three starts, but he struggled against Hawaii and BYU but completed 13-of-20 passes for 162 yards in the win over San Jose State. An Elite 11 camper, he's one of the best quarterback prospects the program has ever been able to get, but now he has to use his live arm and experience to be more consistent and more accurate.
6-5, 251-pound Dominique Blackman is a huge passing prospect with a tremendous arm, and now he's ready to show what he can do after sitting out last year as a transfer. A big-time recruit from Old Dominion by way of Los Angeles Harbor College, he threw for 3,711 yards and 35 touchdowns with six rushing scores in the JUCO ranks. He has the size, the mobility, and the deep arm to be a dominant force with a little bit of time.
6-2, 207-pound senior Logan Bushnell has been a part of the backup rotation last year completing one pass for 51 yards against Bowling Green. The former walk-on is smart and has decent size, but he's an emergency option.
Watch Out For … Blackman. On sheer size and upside he has the potential to be a special playmaker if he can push Davis out of a job. There's enough experience in the lower ranks, and after learning the system last year, to be ready to go.
Strength: Size. The Vandals have a slew of huge passers with Blackman, Davis, 6-3, 220-pound freshman Austin DeCoud, and 6-6, 240-pound sophomore Justin Podrabsky. Idaho is loaded with big bombers.
Weakness: Proven production and running. The Vandals were awful with Davis struggling when he got his chances. The offense didn't do anything and the quarterbacks were among the biggest problem. Idaho came up with 11 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. Blackman can move a bit, but there's no real mobility whatsoever.
Outlook: After finishing tenth in the nation in yards in 2010, the passing game was a disaster last season finishing 116th in the nation in efficiency and having major problems with interceptions and deep passes. Brian Reader didn't get the job done, and Davis wasn't much better when he got his chance. Blackman might be the one to change all of that, but whoever is under center has to be more consistent and accurate
Unit Rating: 5.5
The running game is an afterthought in the Idaho offense, finishing 102nd in the nation, and now it's up to former Arizona State transfer Ryan Bass to try carrying the load after finishing third on the team with 175 yards and two touchdowns in his seven games of work. 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.
6-2, 225-pound JUCO transfer James Baker has the talent and potential to step in right away and produce. The Florida native spend last year at Independence College finishing with 611 yards last year, and now he'll bring power and decent quickness to the rotation. Junior Donovan Cunningham is another JUCO transfer, coming from the College of the Siskiyous, with 5-10, 216-pound size and the talent to quickly become a major factor. He can be a workhorse if needed.
Redshirt freshman Todd Handley is a 5-9, 180-pound speedster who might be the fastest player in the backfield. Extremely quick and athletic, he'll be used in a variety of ways and could be a top kick and punt returner.
Watch Out For … Bass. While he wasn't able to establish himself last year in much of a role, he's a great fit for the offense and should shine with more work. However, he'll have to fight off the JUCO transfers.
Strength: Options. Bass is a decent-sized, quick back, Cunningham and Baker bring the thump, and Handley can fly. The Vandals have several different backs for several different situations.
Weakness: The offense. Idaho doesn't generate big rushing numbers, struggling over the last few years behind a mediocre line. The production was better last year than in 2010 – 1,359 yards to 1,146 – but it was still no big deal.
Outlook: Princeton McCarty and Kama Bailey were the two leading rushers last year, but they're replaceable. The help from the JUCO ranks along with the expected emergence of Bass should make the backfield solid, but will the backs get any room to move? If the runners can average more than 4.5 yards per carry and come up with a home run now and then, in this offense they'll be doing their job.
Unit Rating: 4.5
The receiving corps needed players to step up and shine, and JUCO transfer Mike Scott got the job done leading the way with 55 catches for 691 yards and two scores. He might not have been too dynamic, and he failed to hit the 100-yard mark, but he served the role as a No. 1 receiver. At 5-11, and 178 pounds he's not huge, but he's versatile enough to play at the Z or the outside X.
Senior Justin Veltung is a 4.39 speedster with the deep wheels to make a huge impact, but he hasn't done it yet. He only caught 20 passes for 231 yards last year, but he was held down with a foot problem. Even so, he was a terrific return man and he's devastating in the open field. Now he has to stay healthy – he had a knee injury a few years ago – and he has to do even more in the slot.
With the tragic loss of JUCO transfer Ken McRoyal, a top JUCO transfer who was fatally shot at a party this offseason in Los Angeles, now it'll be up to fellow JUCO transfer Najee Lovett, a 5-9, 170-pounder from Contra Costa College with great hands and nice open field ability to become a major factor. Texas native Kyren Watts will also be expected to shine right away after coming in from College of the Siskiyous. He's a good prospect who could take over a speed position on the outside.
Junior Daniel Micheletti took over a starting spot late in the year and finished with seven catches for 83 yards. However, he's mostly a special teamer who'll be a part of the receiver rotation. At 6-3 and 206 pounds he brings needed size along with good speed. Also ready to do more is redshirt freshman Marquan Major, a 6-2, 169-pound prospect out of Las Vegas who can play anywhere in the receiving corps. 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.
Junior Michael LaGrone turned into a decent pass-catching tight end with 21 catches for 262 yards and three scores. A field stretcher who's also a strong, physical target, the 6-2, 246-pounder can force himself to get into the open and is good at finding the seams. He'll work in a rotation with junior Taylor Elmo, a 6-4, 260-pound athlete who was a high school quarterback but has grown into a pass catcher with 17 grabs for 162 yards last season. He can catch, but he's not going to make any deep plays. LaGrone will work as an H-Back, while Elmo will play at the Y.
Watch Out For … the JUCO transfers. There are openings for the taking, and like Scott there are chances for Watts and Lovett to take over starting gigs. At the very least they'll provide the depth.
Strength: A nice core of players. Scott is a proven No. 1 target who came up with a good season, while Elmo and LaGrone are proven tight ends who know what they're doing. The gaps will be filled in around him.
Weakness: Deep passes. There were a few, but the receiving corps only averaged 10.2 yards per catch with a 51-yard play from Scott the longest play of the season. The team has to do far more field stretching.
Outlook: The Vandals always have a deep stable of receivers, but is there any real talent? The devastating loss of McRoyal takes away a promising talent as well as a young life. The JUCO transfers have to make a statement early on or else it'll be Scott, the tight ends, and prayers for Veltung to stay in one piece and become more of a receiver. Getting better quarterback play is a must, but the receivers have to be better.
Unit Rating: 5
There will be some huge changes on the line, but one sure starter will be sophomore Mike Marboe, a 6-2, 301-pound veteran who started every game at center. He was a nice recruit and became one of the leaders of the line right away. With so much turnover, he'll have to be steadier and make the line his. He'll be backed up again by Guy Reynolds Jr., a 6-2, 311-pound veteran reserve who got a little time last year and can work as a center or a guard.
6-6, 319-pound junior Jordan Johnson took over the starting right guard job, but he had ankle problems and wasn't able to do much for large parts of the season. He's not really built like a guard, but he's a decent pass protector and he's tough to get around.
6-4, 323-pound sophomore Spencer Beale is a massive blocker who can work at guard or tackle, and now he'll get a long look at left tackle in place of longtime starter Matt Cleveland. Beale has a great frame and nice upside, but he needs more experience. 6-4, 318-pound senior Brady Lisoski is a massive blocker who was terrific for Butte College. He saw a little time last year as a backup at right tackle, and now he'll get the first look at the starting job.
Senior A.J. Jones held down a starting job at left guard for most of last year and should be the main man at the job again. At 6-1 and 281 pounds he's not massive by Vandal standards, but the former JUCO All-American is a veteran who knows what he's doing.
Watch Out For … a lot of shifting around to find the right tackles. The blocking wasn't exactly a rock, but Matt Cleveland and Tyrone Novikoff were big veterans. Beale and Lisoski have to prove they can handle the work.
Strength: Size. Idaho always brings in gigantic human beings, and this year's front five is full of wide bodies. The 6-2, 288-pound Liggins is a lightweight.
Weakness: Blocking. Idaho lines aren't nearly effective enough. The pass protection is always an issue and the run blocking was non-existent at times last season. While the pass blocking improved, giving up 28 sacks last year after allowing 45 in 2010, it wasn't a positive.
Outlook: There's massive turnover up front, but the three new starters should have enough experience to get by. It's a huge line that has the bulk, but there's little athleticism and no all-stars. It'll be a work in progress, and it'll be a big shocker if there's a night-and-day improvement from the last few years.
Unit Rating: 4
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