What you need to know ... Ex-head coach Nick Holt was a
defensive coordinator by nature and didn't leave the cupboard
bare with decent prospects from a D that got rolled over by
everyone. There's plenty of speed but little size just about
everywhere. The corners could use a bit of a pass rush to take
the pressure off, and they'll get it with the defensive line
looking far-and-away more disruptive than it was last year. The
linebacking corps will be a work in progress building around
Josh Bousman on the outside.
Tackles: Josh Bousman,
Josh Bousman, 5
Interceptions: Jason Martin, 1
Star of the defense: Junior LB Josh Bousman
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior LBs
Jaron Williams and Robert Davis
Unsung star on the rise: Junior CB Stanley Franks
Best pro prospect: Redshirt freshman DT Marvin Jones
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bousman, 2)
CB Jason Martin, 3) DE Ben Alexander
Strength of the defense: Cornerback
Weakness of the defense:
The experience is there and there's potential
in several spots to to generate a consistent pass rush, but it's not a
big line. The emergence of 300-pound tackle Marvin Jones is vital to
improving the horrendous run defense,
while Siua Musika and Ryan Davis have to use their
experience to make more plays on the inside. There's speed on the
outside with Ben Alexander a rising star, Charles Campbell a potentially
strong starter if he can be consistent, and JUCO transfer
George Fa'avae the best combination of size and skills.
The key to the unit: The interior has to hold up much better
against the run and the ends have to generate more consistent pressure.
Defensive Line Rating: 4.5
- DE Charles Campbell, Sr. - 33 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL,
5 broken up passes
A spot starter last season, the former JUCO transfer had a few big
moments and was solid in pass coverage. He's an excellent athlete who
needs to use his speed to become a steadier pass rusher.
- DT Siua Musika, Jr. - 10 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 3 quarterback
The line needs him to be back and healthy from a knee injury. He
regressed a bit last season after a strong true freshman season as he
had a hard time handling the multiple blockers who were constantly
shoving him out of the way. He has the strength and athleticism to be a
rock, and now he has to turn into a true anchor.
- NG Ryan Davis, Sr. - 24 tackles, 1 TFL
The former JUCO transfer had a nice year turning into a reliable tackler
on the inside. He didn't make nearly enough plays in the backfield and
is a little light at 261 pounds, but he has good lateral movement and
- DE Ben Alexander, Jr. - 43 tackles, 4 sacks, 7 TFL, 1
interception, 3 quarterback hurries
One of the team's leading tacklers last season, the 224-pound junior got
better as the season went on. He's the team's fastest lineman and has a
- DE/DT Josh Shaw, Soph. - 5 tackles
Shaw saw a little bit of time as a reserve in every game last season on
the end and now will see time at tackle. He's undersized at 6-2 and 254
pounds, but he's aggressive and could grow into a good interior pass
- DT Marvin Jones, RFr.
The rising star on the line, the 301-pound Jones is one of the line's
biggest players with the athleticism to immediately push for a starting
job. The line needs him on the inside, but he's quick enough to play
- DE George Fa'avae, Jr.
The 258-pound JUCO transfer enrolled early and showed off a little bit
of how disruptive he can be. He's one of the team's biggest ends and has
a little bit of experience coming up with 12.5 sacks and 79 tackles last
season at L.A. Harbor College.
The Idaho linebackers always make a lot of
tackles, just not enough meaningful ones. There's good competition for
all three spots with the only certain starter to be Josh Bousman
somewhere on the outside. The big battle is in the middle where career
backups Jaron Williams and Robert Davis will have to replace top
playmaker Cole Snyder. The weakside job will sort itself out with David
Vabora getting the first look after a decent sophomore year.
The key to the unit: Hope for the defensive line to
do its job and get in the backfield on a regular basis so the outside
linebackers can focus more on the run and not have to carry the pass
Linebacker Rating: 5
- David Vobora, Jr. - 43 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 forced
A part-time starter last year, the 214-pound junior is a pure weakside
linebacker with good hitting ability leading the team with three forced
fumbles. He should be a 4-6 sack performer if he keeps the starting spot
all season long.
- Jaron Williams, Sr. - 3 tackles, 1 TFL
Williams and Robert Davis will combine to try to replace Cole Snyder and
his 139 tackles in the middle. Even though he's only 217 pounds, he's
tough enough to handle himself on the inside even though he's more
suited for the outside.
Josh Bousman, Jr. - 75 tackles, 5 sacks, 10 TFL
The team's leading returning tackler was banged up this spring but will
be back as the leader of the linebacking corps and a top pass rusher.
He's deadly when turned loose and gets room to roam. He has to be
stronger against the run as well as an occasionally devastating
playmaker in the backfield.
- Robert Davis, Sr. - 11 tackles, 2 quarterback hurries
Davis is a neck-and-neck battle with Jaron Williams for the starting job
in the middle after a disappointing junior season. He was a terror on
the outside as a sophomore finishing second on the team in tackles with
76. He has the athleticism and range to be good on the inside, but he
has to prove he can be a physical playmaker in traffic against the run.
- Brandon Ogletree, Jr. - 7 tackles, 1 TFL
The speedy junior can't find a home. Starting out his career as a
safety, Ogletree moved to defensive end and now moves to linebacker. He
has good size at 6-3 and 224 pounds to go along with his athleticism,
and now he has to prove he can make plays and be more than just a
- Jason Brown, Soph. - 35 carries, 103 yds, 4 catches, 15 yds, 1
With the logjam of runners in the backfield, the 220-pound Brown moved
over to linebacker where he saw time on the weakside. While he's still
raw, he has the athleticism and toughness to grow into a good defender.
There's speed and experience along with some
potentially strong all-conference performers. Strong safety D.J. Dykes
was a huge hitter last season and should be the team's best defender,
but the real upgrade could be at corner where JUCO receiver star Stanley
Franks looks like a natural and Jason Martin could progress into
something special. There's enough depth to create good battles for the
three spots working around Dykes.
The key to the unit: Break up more short to medium
range passes. The Idaho secondary got picked apart last year allowing
7.6 yards per throw.
Secondary Rating: 5
- CB Stanley Franks, Jr.
After coming to Idaho as a receiver, the 5-11, 167-pound junior was
moved to corner this spring where he's still very raw and needs a lot of
work, but fast, fast, fast. Even though he tries, he's not big enough to
be a physical tackler; his worth is as a ball-hawk.
- FS Tony Taupule, Sr. - 36 tackles, 1 TFL, 4 broken up passes
The former Oregon State Beaver went the JUCO route and became a steady
starter last season. While he's not the fastest defensive back around,
he's a good hitter. Now he needs to do more when the ball is in the air.
- SS Jevon Butler, Soph. - 11 tackles
Butler could play either safety position but is a more natural strong
safety at 6-2 and 222 pounds. He had a nice first season as a backup and
has the range to grow into the starting role.
- CB Jason Martin, Sr. - 33
tackles, 1 interception, 5 broken up passes
The star JUCO transfer of last season quickly became the team's top
cover-corner with great quickness and decent ball skills. He appears to
be the only corner with a lock on a starting job after getting better and better as last year went on.
Reggie Jones, Jr. - 11
tackles, 1 broken up pass
The most physical of the corner prospects, the 201-pound junior provides
pop on his hits. Now he has to show he can stay healthy, stay out of
trouble, and be a consistent coverman and not a speedy safety-like
defensive back playing corner.
D.J. Dykes, Jr. - 69 tackles, 4 interceptions, 5 broken up
passes, 2 TFL
The team's best defense player with 141 tackles over the last three
seasons, the 6-3, 202-pound intimidator didn't miss open field tacklers
and provided huge hits when he got a bead on a receiver. He left the
team this off-season creating a huge void at safety.
The kicking game is rock-solid thanks to the all-around talents of Mike
Barrow. Wes Williams has too much speed and quickness to only average
five yards per punt return. The coverage units were abysmal last season
allowing 25.6 yards per kickoff return and 13.1 yards per punt return.
The key to the unit:
Mike Barrow has to the All-America caliber kicker he was last year, and
everything else has to be much, much better.
Special Teams Rating: 6.5
Mike Barrow, Sr. - 16-19 FGs, 21-23 extra points, 43 punts, 1,811
yds, 42.1 yards per kick, 13 inside the 20
Barrow is one of the nation's best all-around kickers with a booming
punting leg to go along with nice touch. He might only be 5-11 and 158
pounds, but he can crank it with seven of eight field goals coming from
beyond 40 yards.