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2007 Idaho Preview
Posted May 14, 2007

Preview 2007 Idaho Vandals Preview

Idaho Vandals

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Idaho Offense Preview | 2007 Idaho Defense Preview
2007 Idaho Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Idaho Preview 

You’ll have to forgive Idaho fans if they’re not getting too comfortable with new head coach Robb Akey quite yet.

After Nick Holt ditched the head coaching job to go back to coach the USC defense, and Dennis Erickson was one-and-done after parlaying the momentum of a 4-8 season, finishing with a five-game losing streak, into a plum job as the Arizona State head man, the Vandals are dealing with their third coach in three years. For a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 1999, and has only won 15 games in the last six seasons, Akey needs to represent an overall change and not just stability.

Head coach: Robb Akey
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 16 Def. 12, ST 2
Ten Best Vandal Players
1. CB Stanley Franks, Sr.
2. LB David Vobora, Sr.
3. LB JoArtis Ratti, Sr.
4. S Shiloh Keo, Soph.
5. RB Jayson Bird, Jr.
6. RB Brian Flowers, Sr.
7. C Adam Korby, Jr.
8. LB Josh Bousman, Sr.
9. QB Nathan Enderle, RFr.
10. RB Andre Harris, RFr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9

Sept. 1

at USC

Sept. 8

Cal Poly

Sept. 15

at Washington St

Sept. 22

Northern Illinois

Sept. 29


Oct. 6

at San Jose State

Oct. 13

Fresno State

Oct. 20

at New Mexico St

Oct. 27

at Nevada

Nov. 3

Louisiana Tech

Nov. 17

at Boise State

Nov. 24

Utah State

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9

2006 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 at Michigan St L 27-17
9/9 at Wash St L 56-10
9/16 Idaho State W 27-24
9/23 at Oregon State L 38-0
9/30 at Utah State W 41-21
10/7 New Mexico St W 28-20
10/14 at La Tech W 24-14
10/21 Boise State L 42-26
10/28 at Hawaii L 68-10
11/4 Nevada L 45-7
11/18 at Fresno State L 34-0
11/25 San Jose State L 28-13

Making matters worse is the success of everyone’s darling, Boise State, showing that it’s possible to play winning football in the Spud State as long as the right mix of players are brought together. Through the coaching adversity, the players appear to be tougher and more self-reliant, if a bit skeptical, and are ready to settle in and build on the positives of the last few years. And there were positives.

The running game was just about to get interesting until injuries became a problem. The team pushed Boise State hard in a 42-26 loss that was closer than the final score might appear, and at one point, the record was 4-3 with five games to play. This year’s team has just enough experience to start the turnaround under Akey and set the tone for a steady climb up in WAC respectability.

If nothing else, Akey won’t let the team be boring. A high-energy, enthusiastic sort of a coach known for jumping around and being demonstrative on the sidelines, he’ll bring a flair that was missing under Holt and Erickson. It’ll also help that Akey wants to be in Moscow and doesn’t have his bags packed waiting for the next offer. At least, not yet. 

What to watch for on offense: Balance, with an emphasis on the passing game to keep up in shootouts. That might sound strange coming from a defensive coach like Akey, but he started stressing from day one the need to attack and be exciting. While the Vandal strength might be at running back, and there will be a good balance, this isn’t going to be a one-dimensional running team.

What to watch for on defense: Attack, attack, attack. Playing out of a 4-3, Akey isn’t going to create a bend-don’t-break style and will likely go after making as many big plays as possible. On the flip side, watch out for the D, particularly the secondary, to get torched early and often. The hope is for there to be enough turnovers to even things out.

The team will be far better if … The offense figures out how to score consistently. The defense can’t help but be better, especially under Akey, but in the WAC, you have to know how to put points on the board. The Vandals scored just 30 points over the final four games of last year and were blown out in all four; they have to average 30 points a game in WAC play to be in the hunt for a winning season.

The Schedule: There are better ways to start a season than at USC, but hosing Cal Poly the following week should help. The other two non-conference games, at Washington State and Northern Illinois, come right off the bat, so the Vandals will have nothing to focus on other than WAC opponents the rest of the way. Hawaii and Fresno State have to come to the Kibbie Dome, while there’s a nice mix of nasty road games (Nevada and Boise State) with winnable home games (Louisiana Tech and Utah State) over the second half of the year. There aren’t two road games in a row, but the only back-to-back home games (Northern Illinois and Hawaii) come in September.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Jayson Bird … if he can regain his sophomore form. The former Idaho state high school sprint champion missed almost all of 2005 after breaking his collarbone against Washington State, and then got phased out of the gameplan as last year went on with the emergence of Brian Flowers. With his size and speed, Bird needs to be the centerpiece of the attack.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB David Vobora and/or senior CB Stanley Franks. Vobora is a First Team All-WAC leader of the defense after making 134 tackles, with 101 solo stops and 14.4 tackles for loss. He’s a do-it-all defender who bulked up to be more than just a pass rusher and a star to build the defense around. Franks was an interception machine making nine picks and returning them for 220 yards. He also ties for the team lead with 48 tackles.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DT Siua Musika and Junior DT Alex Toailoa. The Idaho defense has to be far, far better after allowing 35 points and 394 yards per game with the improvement needing to start up front. The 299-pound Toailoa and the 293-pound Musika have the size, and now they have to start slowing down someone’s running game. 

The season will be a success if … the Vandals win five games. They haven’t won more than four since 2000 and haven’t cranked out a winning season since 1999. With the improved running game and a slightly better defense, beating Cal Poly, Louisiana Tech, Utah State, and two other games isn’t aiming too high.

Key game: Sept. 22 vs. Northern Illinois. Idaho will likely need a confidence booster after facing USC and Washington State in the first three weeks and with Hawaii, San Jose State and Fresno State to start the season. Northern Illinois isn’t quite the class of the MAC and should be beatable in the Kibbie Dome. If nothing else, Idaho needs to establish a good tradition of playing well at home under Robb Akey.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 121 – Idaho 44
- Penalties: Idaho 87 for 874 yards – Opponents 60 for 591 yards
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 22.8 – Idaho 17.8


Related Stories
2007 Idaho Preview - Offense
 -by  May 14, 2007
2007 Idaho Preview - Defense
 -by  May 14, 2007
2007 Idaho Preview - Depth Chart
 -by  May 14, 2007

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