2008 CFN Idaho Preview
Idaho S Shiloh Keo
Idaho S Shiloh Keo
Posted Apr 25, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Idaho Vandals

Idaho Vandals

Preview 200

By Pete Fiutak

2008 Idaho Preview | 2008 Idaho Offense  
- 2008 Idaho Defense | 2008 Idaho Depth Chart  
- 2007 CFN Idaho Preview | 2006 CFN Idaho Preview 

Alright, so it wasn't exactly a great first year in the Robb Akey era, going winless against FBS teams and 1-11 overall, but there were a few positive strides made. Not many, but a few.

Even in the midst of a horrible season, the team still tried hard, still tried to work through the problems, and still gave excellent effort. Fine, so losing at home to Utah State isn't exactly a plus, but the silver lining is that all the inconsistencies and all the mistakes should slow down for a team loaded with experience ... on offense.

Head coach: Robb Akey
2nd year: 1-11
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def. 17, ST 4
Ten Best Vandal Players
1. RB Deonte Jackson, Soph.
2. SS/PR Shiloh Keo, Jr.
3. C Adam Korby, Sr.
4. OT Kris Anderson, Sr.
5. FS Virdell Larkins, Jr.
6. TE Eddie Williams, Sr.
7. RB Princeton McCarty, RFr.
8. PK Timo Amancino, Sr.
9. QB Nathan Enderle, Soph.
10. LB Andre Ferguson, RFr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 2-10
2008 Record:

Aug. 30 at Arizona
Sept. 6 Idaho State
Sept. 13 Western Michigan
Sept. 20 at Utah State
Sept. 27 at San Diego State
Oct. 4 Nevada
Oct. 11 at Fresno State
Oct. 18 at Louisiana Tech
Oct. 25 New Mexico State
Nov. 1 San Jose State
Nov. 15 Boise State
Nov. 22 at Hawaii

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 at USC L 38-10
Sept. 8
Cal Poly W 20-13
Sept. 15 at Wash St L 45-28
Sept. 22
No Illinois L 35-24
Sept. 29 Hawaii L 48-20
Oct. 6 at San Jose St L 28-20
Oct. 13 Fresno State L 37-24
Oct. 20 at NMSU L 45-31
Oct. 27 at Nevada L 37-21
Nov. 3
La Tech L 38-16
Nov. 17 at Boise State L 58-14
Nov. 24
Utah State L 24-19

Forget about the defense for a little while. It was awful last season and it isn't exactly going to be a brick wall this year, but to have any hope of keeping up with the decent WAC teams, the offense has to show more firepower and it has to do it on a consistent basis.

There's a great back in Deonte Jackson to work around, the entire receiving corps returns, and QB Nathan Enderle has a year under his belt. Four starters return to the line that has a few all-stars and some potential next-level talents in C Adam Korby and LT Kris Anderson, so now there has to be more consistency and far more efficiency in the passing game.

This year, the offense will have to do far more until the defense solves two huge issues, the pass rush and linebacking corps. The Vandals had the second-worst pass rush in the WAC and were 118th in the nation in pass efficiency defense; the two went hand-in-hand. However, until the three new starting linebackers can prove they can adequately replace David Vobora, JoArtis Ratti and Brandon Ogletree, teams will try running the ball.

There is decent talent, good athleticism, experience on offense, and possibly the best special teams in the WAC, so now it all has to come together, to go along with the try-hard attitude showed late last year, to start making some noise.

What to watch for on offense: The running game. It wasn't bad last year, thanks to Deonte Jackson, but it should be even better with redshirt freshmen Princeton McCarty and Corey White ready to add even more dash, and with a veteran, good line to pave the way. With a shaky passing game needing to improve, the offense will rely on the ground attack early and often.

What to watch for on defense: The safeties. Shiloh Keo has been one of the WAC's best strong safeties over the last two seasons, and now he's joined by Virdell Larkins, a JUCO transfer who originally signed with Cal. The two are great athletes who'll make up for the mistakes made by the corners.

The team will be far better if … the quarterbacks can complete a pass. You can't win in the WAC if you can't keep up the offensive pace, and the passing game is front and center for Idaho after finishing 118th in the nation (only FIU was worse) in passing efficiency. The Vandal quarterbacks combined to complete just 45% of their throws with 14 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions. The interception and touchdown totals have to be reversed, and the completion percentage has to be around 60%.

The Schedule:
There's not a gimme in the bunch on the FBS slate with the one true winnable game at Utah State. On the plus side, big WAC games against Nevada, San Jose State and Boise State are at home, but road games at Fresno State and Hawaii might be ugly. Outside of the opener at Arizona the non-conference schedule isn't all that bad, but Western Michigan will be good and a trip to San Diego State is a likely loss. Basically, a win over Idaho State early on is a must. Idaho won't go 1-11, but it'll likely be the underdog in all 11 FBS games. Not helping matters is only one off week with the season ending on November 22nd at Hawaii.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Deonte Jackson. Jackson was the offense at times last year with four 100-yard games, a 214-yard effort against Cal Poly, and a 99-yard day against USC, but he isn't a big enough back to handle the ball 257 times again. He likely won't have to with more weapons on offense, and now he should be even more effective.

Best Defensive Player: Junior SS Shiloh Keo. Only 5-10 and 175 pounds, he hits like a much bigger safety and is one of the surest tacklers in the WAC. He's also an elite punt returner, averaging a whopping 16.8 yards per try last season. Now, with only four starters returning on defense, Keo has to be even more of a leader and even more effective.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Nathan Enderle. Call last season a warm-up as Enderle was trying to get his feet wet. He had a few promising moments, but he threw way too many interceptions and killed way too many promising drives. He had to fight all spring to get his job back, and while backup Quin Ashley is an interesting, mobile option, there's no question going into the fall who the No. 1 is. For now.

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, and it's going to take a lot of luck and some major improvements in the pass rush and passing game to get to five wins. A winning season would make Robb Akey the WAC coach of the year.

Key game: Sept. 20 at Utah State. There are few teams on the schedule at Idaho's level, and Utah State is one of them. In the team's WAC opener, Idaho has to avenge last year's 24-19 season-ending loss to the Aggies to get the season off to a decent start.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - Completion percentage: Opponents 66.2% - Idaho 45.2%
 - Sacks: Opponents 30 for 204 yards – Idaho 16 for 109 yards
 - Fourth down conversions: Opponents 13 of 19 (68%) – Idaho 17 of 30 (57%)