2007 Idaho Preview - Offense

Posted May 14, 2007

Preview 2007 Idaho Vandal Offense Preview

Idaho Vandals

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know:
Same idea, different implementation. The new coaching staff will go with a one-back set using four and five-wide formations, sort of like the old coaching staff did, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on tough running. That's a good thing with the strength in the running back corps with four good players, led by junior Jayson Bird, to carry the offense early on. The quarterback situation will be settled this fall with the likely winner being 6-5 redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle, but the receiving corps is going to be a work in progress well into the season. The starting five up front should be fine due to its experience, but it's nothing special. 

Returning Leaders
Passing: Brian Nooy
12-24, 194 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brian Flowers
128 carries, 561 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Brian Flowers
18 catches, 161 yds

Star of the offense: Junior RB Jayson Bird
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman QB Nathan Enderle
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Deonte Jackson
Best pro prospect: Bird
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bird, 2) RB Brian Flowers, 3) C Adam Korby
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense:
Proven passing game


Projected Starter
In one of the bigger surprises in spring ball, redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle became the odds-on favorite to win the starting job this fall. He'll still have to work to get the job, but he's 6-5, 223 pounds with a tremendous arm and good enough mobility to gain positive yards. Potentially a big-time bomber, he needs to become a good decision-maker right away to take a firm grip on the job.

Projected Top Reserves: Going into the off-season, it appeared to be a lock for senior Brian Nooy to take over the starting job from Steven Wichman, but he'll have to battle with some newcomers. He saw a little bit of mop-up duty completing 12 of 24 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. While he's a good athlete, he's not going to run much and needs to far better to be in the starting mix this fall.

The likely number two option will be junior Luke Tracy, a good-looking JUCO transfer who has just enough overall talent to push hard for the starting gig. He doesn't have Enderle's arm, but it's not bad, and he's a bit more polished. His problem is consistency; he has to be strong from one start to the next.

Watch Out For ... Enderle to be the main man with not as much of a quarterback controversy as there might seem to be. He's the best option of the three with the biggest upside.
Strength: Arms. The Vandals should be able to chuck it around without a problem. They might not always be consistent, and they'll make a bazillion mistakes, but they'll be able to push the ball down the field.
Weakness: Experience. Nooy is the only one with D-I experience, and he's going to be the third man in the mix. USC is going to look awfully fast in the season opener.
Outlook: There will be a ton of mistakes to work through, and wild inconsistency, but the Vandal quarterbacks threw eight touchdown passes and 16 interceptions last year; it'll be tough to be appreciably worse. The key will be sticking with one quarterback through thick and thin, even though it'll be tempting to play everyone throughout the year.
Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
The coaching staff has opened up the starting jobs all over the place, but junior Jayson Bird appears to be one of the sure-things to be a number one despite struggling through a 506-yard, seven touchdown season. Maybe. He's a fast 221 pounds who can power it between the tackles and break off big runs, but his biggest dash was 17 yards last season and he died down the stretch. Coming off a broken collarbone in 2005, he struggled to find room and had a hard time consistently moving the ball. That should change this season with a better line in front of him.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Brian Flowers led the team in rushing with 561 yards and four touchdowns, and was fourth on the team with 18 catches for 161 yards, but he'll have to fight to get playing time again after missing spring ball to work on his studies. He's a tough speed back who'll be a bit of a change-of-pace combining with Bird.

 The new star of the show is redshirt freshman Deonte Jackson, a former walk-on who finds ways to move the chains, at least in practice. He started the spring game and worked with the first team throughout the off-season. Only 5-8 and 185 pounds, he's a quick back who should be able to carry the workload for extended stretches. The star of the 2006 recruiting class is a fast, talented 217 pounds and could quickly work his way into a starting spot if he's as good as advertised.

Also in the hunt for time will be redshirt freshman Yusuf Sahahuddin, a tough-as-nails runner considering he's 5-6 and 176 pounds, and sophomore Devin Sturdivant, who has the skills to be a top runner, but he has to say healthy after having problems with a knee injury.

Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to lean on the running game heavily, even when it's not working well. By far the strength of the offense, and maybe the team, everyone will get their chance to see who can crank out the consistent yards.
Strength: Talent. The Vandals have four backs able to carry the workload, with Bird a workhorse to build around as long as he stays healthy.
Weakness: Actual production. Can the backs play up to their skills? The ground game averaged just 3.4 yards per carry and finished eighth in the WAC in rushing. That has to change or the Vandals are going to struggle to move the ball again.
Outlook: The backs are in place to revolve the offense around with speed, size, and changes of pace to give defenses different looks. Now they need room to move and have to all make a few more plays on their own. Everyone will sell out to stop the run, and the top foursome has to get past that.
Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters
With four receivers being used in the new offense, there will be plenty of players in the rotation. Former running back Tracy Ford will bring his speed and quickness to one of the slot positions. Part running back, part receiver throughout his career, he made five catches for 35 yards and was third on the team with 148 rushing yards in just eight games. While he's only 5-8 and 166 pounds, he's tough and should be strong on the move. Fellow ex-running back Raymond Fry is another small, quick player in the slot. The team's main kickoff returner has looked like a natural and should be a dangerous target.

The inside receivers are all but set, but the outside targets are still a question mark. Going into the fall, junior Lee Smith will likely be at flanker after catching seven passes for 139 yards and a touchdown on a 58-yard grab against Michigan State. The former walk-on is a good deep threat averaging 16.4 yards per catch on 15 career grabs, but he's not exactly a speedster who'll scare too many teams at the flanker.

Sophomore Max Komar finished fifth on the team in catches making 17 for 313 yards averaging 18.4 yards per grab. A slot receiver, by nature, he could move around the corps. At tight end, the likely number one will be senior Rolly Lumbala, a former power running back who has to prove he can catch on a consistent basis. At 241 pounds, he'll be a strong blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: The top receivers could quickly emerge among the newcomers. 6-2, 188-pound Maurice Shaw averaged 19.2 yards per catch in his senior year and has the speed and athleticism to take over an outside spot.

Eric Greenwood
is an even more intriguing prospect at 6-6 and 196 pounds. A gym rat sort of a player who'll work his tail off, he should be a number one target sooner than later.

JUCO transfer Cory Rhoane could be the team's leading receiver when he's finally able to shot what he's able to do. He has good size, excellent speed, and good hands.

Battling for time at tight end with Lumbala will be junior Eddie Williams, who'll see plenty of time in two tight end sets and should be used as a receiver coming off a seven-catch, 116-yard, one score season. Lumbala and Williams will have to fight with JUCO transfer
Jim Reuber for time. Originally a Kansas Jayhawk, he has good size and the athleticism to do a little of everything.

Watch Out For ... the depth chart to be printed in pencil. The projected starters going into the fall could all be backups by the start of the season. The incoming recruits should provide an overall upgrade and will make for impressive competition for jobs.
Strength: Options. With so many receivers to work with, a few should emerge as dangerous playmakers. At least that's the hope with the top three receivers from last year gone.
Weakness: Sure-thing, number one target. Do the Vandals have one? Not coming out of spring ball.
Outlook: The Vandal receiving corps is a major question mark going into the season. It should be fine by the end of the year, but it's going to take a while. The hope is for a strength in numbers situation where all the prospects will have to find their own roles with a few of the top newcomers needing to shine right away. Expect plenty of two tight end sets with Lumbala and Williams seeing plenty of work.
Rating: 4.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The right side of the line should be set, but the left side needs work after losing seniors Nate VanderPol and Jade Tadvick. Junior Billy Bates spent last year as a reserve after not quite living up to his freshman year promise. At 6-5 and 271 pounds, he's not a big left tackle, but he has tremendous potential. A top recruit, he has yet to blossom. At guard will be 6-6, 330-pound junior Mike Iupati, who saw a little time as a backup and should be a rock on the line for the next three years. He's a good talent who'll have to be consistent in pass protection.

Anchoring the line is 6-2, 292-pound junior Adam Korby, who has been a good quarterback up front over the last two years and is now expected to blossom into an all-star. He's tough, strong, and athletic for his size.

Junior Kris Anderson is back at right tackle after overcoming a knee injury to start every game. He has the size at 6-3 and 299 pounds, and he's a smart, tough blocker who could move to guard if needed, but he has to be better, especially against the pass. Next to him will be sophomore Adam Juratovac, who'll rotate with senior Marcis Fennell, but will get the start. He's a good athlete who has to do more in pass protection.

Projected Top Reserves: Fennell might not be a starter, but he might as well be with the amount of time he spends in the rotation with Juratovac on the left side. At 304 pounds, he's a big more of a bruiser than Juratovac and can see time at center if needed. One of the more interesting prospects to keep an eye on will be sophomore Bryce Sinclair, a 6-5, 345-pound tackle who should be great for the ground game and could add more bulk inside for power running plays. He'll start out behind Anderson at left tackle.

6-7, 254-pound redshirt freshman Kellen Beam, who's a bit too tall and lanky for a center, is one of the best athletes on the line. He could end up at tackle battling with Bates for the job this fall.

Watch Out For ... pass protection to be more vital than run blocking. The one-back offense is hardly going to abandon the running game, but with a new starting quarterback and a receiving corps that needs work, giving the passer more time than he had last year will be vital.
Strength: The right side. Throwing center Adam Korby into the mix, the Vandals have one side of the line they can work behind on a regular basis and know they'll get a little bit of production. Anderson and the combination of Juratovac and Fennell should be solid.
Weakness: Production. The line almost got Steven Wichman killed last year and did nothing to consistently open holes for the ground game. Enough size and experience returns to be better.
Outlook: This is the key to the season. If the line isn't appreciably better than 2006, the offense will sputter and cough once again. The starting five should be good, with Fennell providing an extra starting-quality backup at guard, but the tackles have to start to be better in pass protection and there has to be a better overall push in the middle.
Rating: 4.5


Related Stories
2007 Idaho Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007
2007 Idaho Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007
2007 Idaho Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007

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