2009 Idaho Preview - Offense
Idaho OG Mike Iupati
Idaho OG Mike Iupati
Posted Jun 16, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Idaho Vandal Offense

Idaho Vandals

Preview 2009 - Offense

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What you need to know:
The offense was a major flop last year considering just about everyone was back. The hope will be for the massive line to be able to do more for the running game early on in games and for the passing game to be better and more efficient. Nathan Enderle has two years under his belt as the starting quarterback, and now he has to cut down on his interceptions and has to do more to keep the chains moving. The receiving corps needs a No. 1 target, but it has several decent veterans for Enderle to work with. Deonte Jackson and Princeton McCarty are two of the quickest backs in the WAC, and with Troy Vital as a strong No. 3, the Vandals have an explosive, experienced trio to carry the offense. Now they need the line to be able to open up some holes.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Nathan Enderle
184-339, 2,077 yds, 20 TD, 17 INT
Rushing: Deonte Jackson
161 carries, 696 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Preston Davis
27 catches, 296 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Deonte Jackson
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Eric Greenwood
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Matt Cleveland
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Mike Iupati
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jackson, 2) Iupati, 3) Cleveland
Strength of the offense:
Running back, Line Size
Weakness of the offense: Consistent Production, No. 1 Wide Receiver


Projected Starter
Junior Nathan Enderle took over the starting job in a surprise move a few years ago and was fine at times, but he has had problems with interceptions throwing 35 over the last two seasons. At 6-5 and 223 pounds he has good size and a nice arm that can put the ball anywhere on the field, but he needs to be more consistent. He completed 54% of his throws for 2,077 yards with 20 touchdowns and 17 picks last year, highlighted by a 334-yard, three touchdown day in a loss to Western Michigan. He's not a running threat, so if he's not keeping things moving through the air, the offense sputters.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Brian Reader is a promising 6-3, 220-pound JUCO transfer who threw for 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns for Monterey Peninsula JC. Great on the move, he can throw the ball accurately out of the pocket as well as in. While he's the clear No. 2 going into the fall, he's just good enough to potentially get an honest shot at the starting job if Enderle struggles.

True freshman Taylor Davis will purely be an emergency option, but he's the future. A star recruit out of Arizona, the 6-3, 191-pounder is polished and has a live arm. He only came through with one big year in high school and is still progressing as a player, but he's a good one to get excited about.

Watch Out For ... Reader. Enderle has 22 games under his belt and is the veteran the team relies on, but if he's not coming up with wins, the coaching staff will have to make a change to try to get something going. Reader is ready.
Strength: Arms. Enderle is a big bomber who can chuck the ball deep when needed. If he can find a few deep threats who can step up, he should come up with bigger numbers. Reader has a live arm.
Weakness: Interceptions. As a team, Idaho threw 20 last year and Enderle has only gone without an interception in four career games. Not only does he throw picks, but he throws multiple interceptions with nine games last year and 14 over the last two seasons with two or more.
Outlook: Enderle and the Idaho passing game will never be efficient and there will always be a slew of interceptions, but there has to be more production in high-scoring games. The passing game has to keep up, or at least come up with numbers when things are getting out of hand. Reader will see time and Davis might be too good to keep off the field.
Rating: 5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
Junior Deonte Jackson carried the offense two years ago, rushing for 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns, but he was part of a rotation last year to keep him fresh and he came up with just 696 yards and three scores. While he ran for four 100-yard games in 2007, had a 214-yarder, and a 99-yard day, he only had two 100-yard games last season and didn't have one in the final nine games. The 5-8, 191-pound cousin of NFL star, Steven Jackson, is fast, tough, and good enough to get more work again. The coaching staff will try to keep him healthy with  a rotation, but he'll get more work.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Princeton McCarty has shown off good flash and decent production when he got his chances averaging 6.2 yards per carry rushing for 480 yards and three touchdowns in a rotation with Jackson. He also caught nine passes for 60 yards, but wasn't able to break off any big plays. He's only 5-8 and 174 pounds, but he has 4.32 speed and can cut on a dime. He's not going to be a workhorse, but he has home run hitting potential being used in a variety of ways.

While Jackson and McCarty are the quick speedsters, sophomore Troy Vital is the pounder. He's not huge at 6-0 and 207 pounds, but he's a physical between-the-tackles runner who ran for 210 yards and a touchdown highlighted by a 48-yard day against Fresno State. He's not a plow-horse, he's a tremendous athlete who was a Texas high school track star as a hurdler and a long jumper.

Watch Out For ... even more of a rotation. Jackson is the team's No. 1 back without question, but the coaching staff doesn't want him to break down as the season goes on. McCarty and Vital are capable backs who can be every bit as productive as long as they don't have to carry the entire load.
Strength: Speed. McCarty can fly, Vital has track-star wheels, and Jackson is dangerous whenever he's in the open field. If the line can provide the holes, this bunch will make things happen.
Weakness: The line. It's been awful over the last few years and the passing game hasn't opened things up. Defenses have been able to load up against the talented backs. Staying in games is also a problem. The team gets down so much that it has to abandon the ground game.
Outlook: The running backs are one of the team's biggest strengths with three good runners who can all make things happen with their speed and athleticism. Jackson is one of the WAC's best weapons, but he's not going to be asked to do everything to carry the offense for a full season. The three backs will likely combine for 1,500 yards.
Rating: 6


Projected Starters
Arguably the team's biggest loss is at the H-Back spot where Eddie Williams led the team with 54 catches for 687 yards and six touchdowns, 6-4, 211-pound junior Daniel Hardy will get the first look after catching nine passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns highlighted by an 81-yard score against Boise State. More of a big wide receiver than a tight end, he's not going to do much blocking.

6-6, 205-pound junior Eric Greenwood started four games at the outside X position and saw time in every game but one but only finished with eight catches for 72 yards and a score.  While he has the speed to be a deep threat, he can also be used as an H-Back and use his size to make things happen on the inside.

Sophomore Preston Davis had a nice first season finishing second on the team with 27 catches for 296 yards and three scores. He ended up starting nine times at the Z position and should grow into the job with excellent speed and quickness to go along with his experience. One of the team's top recruits last year, he was a star defensive end as well as a receiver; he's a tough 6-1 and 191 pounds.

At the S position will be Max Komar, a senior who led the team two years ago with 30 catches for 445 yards and four scores. He was a good deep threat from the slot. At 5-10 and 202 pounds he's not huge, but he's tough finishing third on the team with 26 catches for 298 yards. He's as reliable a target as the team has.

The team doesn't always use a tight end, but senior Peter Bjorvik is a veteran who caught five passes for 37 yards and a score after catching 17 passes for 255 yards. The 6-4, 245-pounder is a good athlete with decent hands, but his job will mostly be about blocking and to take the attention from the linebackers.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Maurice Shaw is one of the team's faster players, but he hasn't been used enough as a deep threat. He came up with a 77-yard touchdown play and averaged 14.1 yards per catch on 11 grabs, but he wasn't consistent playing in just eight games. Can he do it for a full season? That remains to be seen playing behind Greenwood at the X.

Junior Quin Ashley was a dangerous option at quarterback last season using his athleticism to run for 35 yards in his limited time but he missed on all three of his passes and threw a pick. He has been moved around working at safety as well as quarterback. Now he'll be a full-time wide receiver playing behind Komar at the S. At 5-11 and 199 pounds he has good size and great quickness. He only caught three passes last year, but they went for 51 yards. 

Watch Out For ... Greenwood. He hasn't set the world on fire and he struggled last year, but his hands are too good and he's too big to not be a major factor.
Strength: Veterans. The corps might lose Williams, but most of the top players are back. Experience has to count for something to improve the overall efficiency of the passing game.
Weakness: A No. 1 target. Williams was everything for the passing game catching 54 of the 200 completed passes. There should be plenty of spreading around of the ball, but the Vandals need one guy to scare a secondary. That could be Davis.
Outlook: The receiving corps has veterans and it has several options for Nathan Enderle to work with, but it needs to be more explosive and it needs to be far more consistent. It'll be a good corps, but it needs to be great for the offense to keep up with the better WAC teams.
Rating: 5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The line needs blockers who can produce, and Mike Iupati is one. He was never quite right last year after overcoming a shoulder problem, and he had problems with his knee this offseason, but if he's healthy, he's a blaster of a run blocker at left guard with 20 starts under his belt. At 6-6 and 330 pounds he has excellent size and NFL potential.

Ready to break out at left tackle is Matt Cleveland, a 6-4, 310-pound sophomore who had a great spring and should be a better all-around option than last year's starter, Billy Bates. While he still needs some time and seasoning, he's a good pass protector with tremendous upside.

Moving from guard to center, to take over for Adam Korby, is senior Irv Stevens. The 6-3, 274-pounder started three times at right guard but was undersized for the position. He's a good athlete who'll be good on the move, but he has to prove he can play for more than a few games.

Senior Adam Juratovac was supposed to step up and become a starter going into last year, but he ended up becoming a key backup. Now the 6-3, 299-pounder will take over at right guard, for now, but he could move around and play anywhere on the line. He might be too valuable as a versatile backup to end up starting, especially with other options ready to take over.

6-5, 327-pound senior Bryce Sinclair started seven times last year at right tackle but now the job is all his. It took a few years for him to figure out what he was doing, after coming to Idaho as an unpolished big body, and while he's not quick against the better pass rushers, he's a wall to get around.

Projected Top Reserves: Massive JUCO transfer Tevita Halaholo might not be a starter right away, but he could be too good to keep out of a guard spot. He'll likely push Juratovac out of a spot at some point with 6-5, 358-pound size and phenomenal strength. No one will push him around.

Bringing more size at center is Guy Reynolds, a 6-3, 331-pound redshirt freshman who started out his career at Arkansas before transferring. He's not going to be great on the move, but he should grow into a tremendous run blocker with a little time and a spot to fit in. He'll start out at center but could end up at guard where he can use his bulk.

Watch Out For ... Iupati. With his size and his strength, he could be the anchor of a front line that needs to be strong for the ground game. He could turn out to see time in an NFL camp after being drafted on the second day.
Strength: Size. This is a big, big line that few will be able to push. Not only does the starting five average well over 300 pounds, but the reserves are just as large.
Weakness: Production. Yes, this is a big group, but the Vandals haven't been able to keep the quarterbacks upright in years and should struggle once again. Last year's line was more talented and it wasn't able to do much of anything right.
Outlook: A massive disappointment last year, this was supposed to be among the WAC's best lines and it struggled from the start. Injuries were a problem and there was never any consistency thanks to a starting lineup that seemed to change every week. There's size and there needs to be more done for the ground game and a lot more done in pass protection.