What you need to know ...
It'll be fun to watch. Head coach Dennis Erickson and
offensive coordinator Dan Cozzetto are going to run a variety of
formations using four and five wide sets with wild pass patterns
making life a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators to
figure out. The key will be the play of QB Steven Wichman, who
has the arm and experience to put up huge numbers. The receiving
corps isn't special, but there are several options to keep a
good rotation going. The ground game won't be neglected with the
return of Jayson Bird from a collarbone injury to team up with
bruising Rolly Lumbala. The line is experienced and should be
solid if everyone is healthy.
Passing: Steven Wichman
226-401, 2,746 yds, 15 TD, 18 INT
Rushing: Rolly Lumbala
128 carries, 472 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Wendell Octave
33 catches, 537 yds, 3 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Steven Wichman
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Wesley Williams
Best pro prospect: Sophomore RB Jayson Bird
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bird, 2) Wichman, 3) TE
Strength of the offense: Experience, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth
Because of his experience more
than anything else, Steven Wichman will be the starter in the
new wide-open offense. However, he must cut down on his
interceptions after throwing 18 interceptions in his first
season after coming over from the JUCO ranks. The real battle
will be for the number two job and the inside track to be the
main man next season. True freshman Nathan Enderle is the most
talented of the group, but Chris Joseph showed this spring that
he'll be a major factor.
The key to the unit: Quick reads and fewer mistakes.
Steven Wichman has to be sharp until the backups can prove
Quarterback Rating: 5.5
- Steven Wichman, Sr. - 226-401, 56%, 2,746 yds, 15 TD,
The former JUCO transfer turned into a productive, but erratic
starter. He was unstoppable over the second half of the season
throwing for 1,182 yards over a late three game stretch only to
see the season come to a crashing thud with a four interception
day against San Jose State. And that's the problem:
interceptions. He throws lots and lots of them. He's a big
passer with a live arm with plenty of experience. Now he has to
use his decision making ability to grow into a sharp operator of
the Dennis Erickson offense.
- Chris Joseph, Soph.
The 214-pound sophomore made huge strides in spring ball. He
threw for over 5,500 yards and 66 touchdowns in high school.
After being a top scout teamer last season, he appeared to grasp
the new offense and should make a great run at the number two
- Nathan Enderle, Fr.
Don't be shocked if the true freshman finds his way into the
starting mix early in his career. He's 6-5 and 223 pounds with a
tremendous arm. He got to campus early and will get every change
to win the backup spot behind Steven Wichman.
- T.J. Conley, Soph.
He certainly knows how to bomb away after throwing 125 touchdown
passes as a Washington high school star. So far he has been
known for his punting averaging over 40 yards per kick as a true
freshman before breaking his leg seeing time as a safety.
This should be a surprisingly strong group if everyone can
stay healthy. Jayson Bird will be among the WAC's leading
rushers now that he's back from a collarbone injury that cost
him almost all of last year, while Devon Sturdivant returns from
an injured knee. Rolly Lumbala is a big back who'll power his
way for hard yards here and there and is a proven workhorse.
This summer brings several interesting prospects highlighted by
star recruit Andre Harris.
The key to the unit: Run effectively when given the
chance. This might be a wide-open offense, but it's not going to
be one dimensional. Jayson Bird and Rolly Lumbala have to run as
well as they did in spring ball.
Running Back Rating: 5
- Jayson Bird, Soph. - 23 carries, 70 yds, 3 ypc, 1
TD, 1 catch, -2 yds
The 221-pound Bird started out well against Washington State
before getting knocked out for the year with a broken
collarbone. The former Idaho state high school sprint champion
ran for a team-leading 859 yards and eight touchdowns in 2004
and should be a perfect fit for the new offense as long as he
can stay healthy.
- Rolly Lumbala, Jr. - 128 carries, 472 yds, 3.7 ypc, 1
TD, 22 catches,, 217 yds, 9.9 ypc, 2 TD
Lumbala went from being a nice complementary runner to the main
man after Jayson Bird went down for the year. The 6-2, 241-pound
Canadian is surprisingly quick with nice hands as a receiver.
While he didn't explode last season and only scored one
touchdown, he was steady. Expect him to be an effective
ten-carry back in a good rotation.
- Devon Sturdivant, RFr.
A potential game-breaker, the 203-pound Sturdivant is looking to
get in the mix after tearing his ACL just before last season
began. He's a quick runner who should be able to tear off yards
in chunks, but he'll have to battle with several freshmen to get
- Andre Harris, Fr.
The star of the 2006 recruiting class, Harris ran for 19
touchdowns last year as a senior. He has speed, size, hands, and
All the receives will get plenty of work with four and
five wide sets being used. The best potential is at tight end
where Luke Smith-Anderson returns from a ruptured spleen and
Keith Greer and Rick Harrison will allow the Vandal quarterbacks
to dink and dunk to death. Wendell Octave has the most
experience in the receiving corps and should be a steady
playmaker early on, but someone needs to emerge to replace the
talent and explosion of D.J. Smith. The overall production will
be better than the talent.
The key to the unit: A sure-thing deep threat has to
emerge from the pack and a reliable rotation needs to form early
Receiver Rating: 5
- Wendell Octave, Sr. - 33 catches, 537 yds, 16.3 ypc, 3
Octave has been a steady number two receiver in each of the last
two seasons and grew into a the team's top midrange receiver
last season. He exploded against UNLV for 146 yards and a
touchdown and was steady the rest of the way. Now he has to
prove he can be the type of number one receiver who can take the
heat off everyone else.
- DeAngelo Ramsey, Sr. - 25 tackles, 2 interceptions
Will he stay at receiver? One of the team's top safeties last
season turned into one of the most head-turning producers in
spring ball looking good enough to possibly become the new go-to
target. He originally came to Idaho as a receiver from the JUCO
ranks before taking his 6-2, 204-pound size and great speed to
the defensive side.
- Tracy Ford, Soph. - 44 carries, 173 yds, 3.9 ypc, 2 TD,
30 catches, 223 yds, 7.4 ypc
Part running back, part receiver, the small, shifty Ford is more
needed in the receiving corps now that Jayson Bird is back at
running back. He'll still occasionally be used as a speed back.
- Tight end Luke Smith-Anderson, Jr.
There's no questioning his talent, but Smith-Anderson has to
prove he can stay healthy after suffering a knee injury in 2003
and a ruptured spleen last year. He's an athletic 6-5 target who
caught 16 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns in 2004, and
it'll be a shock if he doesn't explode in the new offense.
- Matt Askew, Sr. - 28 catches, 330 yds, 11.8 ypc, 1 TD
The former JUCO transfer made a big impact as a steady target
throughout last season finishing fourth on the team in
receptions. At 6-4 and 205 pounds with decent speed, he'll get
plenty of chances to break into the starting role.
- Lee Smith, Soph. - 17 catches, 254 yds, 14.9 ypc
The former walk-on turned into a surprisingly reliable target as
last year went on. What he lacks in speed he makes up for with
good hands and route running ability.
- Wesley Williams, Soph. - 3 catches, 49 yds, 1 TD
Potentially the team's most explosive receiver, the 5-10,
167-pound bolt of lightning will find a spot somewhere in the
receiving corps as well as on special teams as a top kick
returner. His one touchdown catch came on a 31-yard play against
- Desmond Belton, Jr. - 2 catches, 26 yds, 4 tackles
The former safety is a physical receiver who'll see action in
four and five wide sets. At 6-4 and 187 pounds, he has the size
to be a physical inside presence.
- Tight end Keith Greer, Sr. - 8 catches, 52 yds, 6.5 ypc
He's 255 pounds and good with the ball in his hands showing that
he's all the way back from a broken leg that almost cost him his
life. He's a good enough blocker to be used as a fullback if the
team decides to employ a lead blocker.
- Tight end Rick Harrison, Soph. - 1 catch, 15 yds, 1 TD
While not the prospect the other top tight ends are, the
240-pound former defensive end has a little bit of experience
after stepping in when injuries struck. He's most likely going
to see time as a number two tight end.
It's a whole new ball game for the big, veteran line that
allowed 34 sacks last season. There's enough overall athleticism to
expect good production for the passing game right away, but it'll be
tempting not to mostly use this group to try to blow open holes for an
improved ground game with Jayson Bird back. Continuity will be important
after having problems with a variety if health issues all across the
The key to the unit: Pass protection. The machine
can't go if the front five isn't keeping the quarterback clean. Having
the same starting lineup for a few games in a row would be nice.
Offensive Line Rating: 5
- OT Nate VanderPol, Sr.
The team's best offensive lineman when 100%, VanderPol has had a hard
time staying healthy missing time with a knee strain last season and
missed four games the year before. He's 6-6 and 306 pounds with the
technique to get him a look from the next-level scouts.
- OG Adam Juratovac, RFr.
It's a dead-even battle for the right guard spot between Juratovac and
Marcis Fennell. Fennell has the experience and is bigger, but Juratovac,
a scout team star last season, is more athletic.
- C Adam Korby, Soph.
The 292-pound Korby turned out to be one of the surprises of last season
for a few reasons. Now only was he a solid all-around blocker in his
first season, he was also the most durable as the only lineman to start
all 11 games.
- OG Jade Tadvick, Sr.
Tadvick was a steady starter at left guard throughout last season only
missing time due to a ruptured appendix. He's a big blocker at 6-5 and
314 pounds with the versatility to play tackle if needed.
- OT Billy Bates, Soph.
While not all that big at 271-pounds, Bates proved he can handle himself
reasonably well after starting three games as a true freshman before
breaking his thumb. He's an aggressive blocker with good feet and the
potential to grow into his 6-5 frame and be a dominant pass blocker.
- OG Marcis Fennell, Jr.
If it's not Adam Juratovac and right guard, it'll be Fennell. The
304-pound junior started in three games last season and has the
potential to see time at center if he doesn't take over a starting spot
elsewhere this fall.
- OG Kris Anderson, Soph.
Anderson started nine games at guard before suffering a knee injury.
He's versatile enough to play either guard spot and was surprisingly
consistent as a redshirt freshman.