2013 Idaho Preview - Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Idaho Vandals Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know:
Paul Petrino was able to bring aboard offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich, who played a huge part in making the Arkansas passing game go. He has a nice group of targets to work with in Nagee Lovett, Jahrie Level and Roman Runner, who should be steady, but now need to be more explosive. The coaching staff went JUCO for the top running back options, needing Jerrel Brown and Kris Olugbode to pound away behind a line that's full of veterans and is good in pass protection, but has to do something for a ground game that scored three rushing touchdowns. The quarterback situation is up in the air with a few good prospects pushing veteran Taylor Davis.
Star of the offense: Senior WR Najee Lovett
Passing: Taylor Davis
38-70, 330 yds, 3 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: James Baker
95 carries, 390 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Najee Lovett
46 catches, 538 yds, 6 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior QB Taylor Davis
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Jerrel Brown and/or junior RB Kris Olugbode
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OG Dallas Sandberg
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Lovett, 2) WR Jahrie Level, 3) Sandberg
Strength of the offense: Experience, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Running Game, Production
It's going to be a dogfight for the starting quarterback job after the passing game come up with one of the least efficient seasons in college football. Senior Taylor Davis is a 6-3, 232-pound bomber but he has to be far more accurate and far more effective after completing 54% of his passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns with four picks. Not just big and strong throwing the ball, he can run a little bit with decent mobility. An Elite 11 camper, he was one of the best quarterback prospects the program has ever been able to land, but he hasn't been able to crank it up yet, finishing up last year with three picks and just 49 yards in the loss to Utah State.
6-0, 205-pound Chad Chalich won two Idaho state championships along with the 2011 Gatorade Idaho Player of the Year honors. While he's not big, he's deadly accurate with a good, live arm. Every chance will be there to take over the starting job, but he'll have to fight off JUCO transfer Anthony Neyer, a 6-2, 215-pounder from Pierce College after starting out his career at USC. While he's not as accurate as Chalich, he's tough as nails with the great tools and a fantastic throwing motion.
Watch Out For … Matt Linehan, the wild-card recruit out of Michigan. The son of former Vandal QB, Scott, the 6-3, 185-pounder is the best athlete of the quarterback lot with a textbook throwing motion.
Strength: Options. The rest of the offense might be a question mark, but there are enough talented quarterback options for this coaching staff to play around with. If given time and a few weapons to play with, the Vandal quarterbacks should produce.
Weakness: Efficiency and picks. The Idaho quarterbacks combined for just 15 touchdowns and 22 picks last season and averaged an awful 10.3 yards per completion. There was next to nothing happening down the field.
Outlook: The Vandals will always put up big passing yards since the defense gives up so many points, forcing the O to bomb away to keep up. Now the quarterback play has to improve and become a positive. First, the coaches have to come up with a vision. If it's Davis, it's about trying to get by now, while Chalich is a nod toward the rebuilding job needing to be done.
Unit Rating: 5
Former JUCO transfer James Baker has the talent to crank out yards in chunks and the 6-2, 228-pound size to provide some power. The senior got in a little work last season finishing second on the team with 390 yards and a team leading two scores – he was the only running back to score. The Florida native can catch a little bit, too.
6-0, 220-pound junior Jerrel Brown comes in from College of San Mateo after running for 428 yards and four scores last season. A pounder of an inside runner, he has workhorse potential who can move the chains and be the steadying rushing force the offense has been missing. Also somewhere in the rotation will be 5-9, 198-pound sophomore Justin Parkins, a quick, smart special teamer who got in a little work as a freshman running for 91 yards averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He might not be big, but he's tough.
Watch Out For … Kris Olugbode, a dangerous JUCO transfer out of City College of San Francisco. At a compact 5-9 and 200 pounds he's strong and is a pounder, running 270 times last season for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns. There's a chance he could be the instant answer.
Strength: The JUCO guys. Olugbode and Brown are as good as any backs the program has had in a while. These two should combine with Baker to provide a nice pop.
Weakness: Rushing touchdowns. Two. Baker scored once against Texas State and once more against Louisiana Tech. That was it in terms of rushing scores from the running backs.
Outlook: The Vandal running game was non-existent, mostly because the passing game had to take center stage in shootouts. Even so, 1,071 rushing yards and three scores were inexcusable. The JUCO transfers should be able to provide a much bigger boost and Baker should pound away for a decent year. However, overall, 1,500 yards would be a plus.
Unit Rating: 4.5
The Vandals have a nice veteran weapon to revolve the passing game around with the return of former JUCO transfer Najee Lovett, a 5-9, 168-pound senior who led the team with six touchdown catches and finished second on the team with 50 grabs for 543 yards. The former star from Contra Costa College has great hands and good open field ability, but he needs to stat stretching the field a bit a bit more with his deep speed. Steady, now he has to be spectacular.
6-0, 187-pound junior Jahrie Level turned in a nice season after coming in from El Camino College making 46 catches for 538 yards and two scores. A good leader, he has the rushing ability and the hands to play anywhere in the receiving corps, but with his speed he's best for the X. Also back is senior Roman Runner came in from City College of San Francisco and finished fourth on the team with 18 catches for 218 yards. He has nice hands and great quickness, but now he has to grow into more of a role in the slot.
Sophomore Marquan Major only made two catches for 25 yards in his first season, but one of the grabs turned into a touchdown against Bowling Green. At 6-2 and 183 pounds he's a tall, rangy receiver who can shine at an outside position and stretch the field. 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. Even bigger is Michael LaGrone, a 6-2, 273-pound tight end who'll be used as a very, very big wide receiver after catching 16 passes for 134 yards and two scores. He'll never stretch the field, but he'll outmuscle anyone on short range plays.
Watch Out For … Dezmon Epps. Is he a wide receiver or a defensive back? Out of San Francisco City College, the 5-10, 170-pounder did a little of everything catching 20 passes, running for seven scores and serving as a top returner. Arguably the best recruit in Petrino's first season, he's a gamebreaker who'll be dangerous whenever he has the ball in his hands.
Strength: Experience. This is the offense's biggest strength with Lovett, Scott and Runner three veterans who know what they're doing, and there's just enough decent young options to shine in the new system.
Weakness: Deep plays. Lovett came up with a 66-yard play, but that was about it for the home runs from the Vandal receivers. This was a midrange attack that never stretched the field, but the receivers are in place to start coming up with bigger moments.
Outlook: The coaching staff has plenty to work with and doesn't have to do too much tweaking. There won't be a true tight end, but Veltung will serve as one from time to time while also playing as a very large target in four-wide sets. The depth needs some developing, but the starting lineup will be solid.
Unit Rating: 5
The line gets back three starters from a group that wasn't all that bad in pass protection, but didn't do much of anything for the ground game. It all starts in the middle where 6-2, 296-pound junior Mike Marboe is back after being the anchor for the last two years. The veteran center was a nice recruit with good quickness for his bulk. Now he has to provide more of a push for the ground attack.
6-4, 287-pound sophomore Cody Elenz is back after doing a nice job last year at left tackle, now called the quick tackle. Extremely strong, he makes up for his lack of bulk with tremendous strength and power, but he's at his best in pass protection. At quick guard is 6-5, 311-pound sophomore Dallas Sandberg, a very big, very strong inside blocker who became a find. He didn't blast away on anyone, but he showed excellent upside taking over the starting job on the left side.
Junior Spencer Beale is a 6-5, 319-pound versatile blocker who can work at guard or tackle, spending most of last year at right guard getting two starts but mostly working as a key reserve. He'll get a long look at the weak guard spot while 6-6, 323-pound senior Jordan Johnson returning on the right side at tackle where he started all 11 games after returning from an ankle injury. One of the team's strongest players, he has the power to go along with a huge frame.
Watch Out For … Brett Thompson, a 6-5, 318-pound Idaho native with the right side and the right frame. A small school performer, he dominated at the lower level and needs a lot of work, but the upside is there to become a whale of a starter in the next few seasons.
Strength: Pass protection. Considering there wasn't much of a running game for defenses to worry about, allowing 24 sacks on 448 pass attempts wasn't all that bad. This might not be the most athletic line, but all things considered, the front five did a decent job in pass protection.
Weakness: Run blocking. The line did absolutely nothing for the ground game. The Vandals only ran for 1,071 yards and three touchdowns averaging 3.1 yards per run. There wasn't enough of a push early on to establish the offense.
Outlook: It took a year to rebuild the line, and now the payoff needs to come with five veterans who should form a nice pass blocking unit. There's size and experience, and now it all has to come together to be a strength after years of mediocre production.
Unit Rating: 4.5
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