With 2-A-Day drills complete and preparations being made for the season opener in less than 2 weeks against Washington State, 2005 Vandal football team is taking form. Several battles still rage, but many parts of the depth chart, from our vantage point, are coming together.
Winning STYLE points...
There is one thing you will note as a common sighting with Vandal football photos from now on. We don't know about any other uniform changes planned for this season, but one we were able to confirm was that this fall the Vandals will be sporting BLACK shoes for the first time since the '99 season. This represents a huge step, in our opinions, for the Vandals in the gear department. Football was meant to be played in black shoes...and Idaho
is getting back to the style displayed throughout the 80s and 90s.
The looming question at tightend...
6-5, 240, rFr
6-4, 245, Fr
With the indefinite loss of starting TE Luke Smith-Anderson
(6-5, 265, Jr) a couple weeks ago to an injury sustained during practice, the question loomed...who would start at TE? We knew that the future looked bright with Luke leading the class and a solid group of youngsters backing him up. But with Luke out, would the lead role go to junior Keith Greer
(6-2, 250), currently topping the H-Back chart?
From what we've seen and heard through the grapevine, it looks like Vandal fans are going to want to keep tabs on a talented group of youngsters led by redshirt freshman Rick Harrison
(6-5, 240), a converted DE who moved to TE during his redshirt season. He's run the bulk of the snaps with the #1s and brings a nice combination of good hands with nice size (2-way, 2-year starter in HS at TE and DE). Right behind Rick is grayshirt freshman Peter Bjorvik
(6-4, 245), who was an Oregon All-State selection at TE as a senior, and impressive true freshman Eddie Williams
(6-2, 230) who looks sharp already despite his youth. Greer and senior Tim Bertalot
(6-1, 248) could shift over to TE at anytime as well, as the H-Back is similar in many ways to TE. But for now, it looks like Idaho will be turning to the youngsters currently in the chart.
Depth at defensive end
6-3, 230, Jr
...Twelve months ago, the Vandal defensive line was a razor thin group facing major depth issues before the 2004 football season ever started. In 2005, those depth issues are beginning to look much less daunting across the DL. In particular the DEs have seen a spirited battle throughout spring and fall drills, and the starting defensive ends for much of the drills we witnessed were newcomer junior Charles Campbell
(6-3, 230), a California JC All-State selection in '04 who brings some heat off the edge, and senior Mike Bonelli
(6-2, 240) who lined up frequently at DT on Idaho's depleted DL last fall. The staff substituted DEs liberally, with sophomores Brandon Ogletree
and Ben Alexander
seeing extensive playing time, as did redshirt freshman Taylor Rust
and true freshmen Josh Shaw
and Bryan Braman
. It's not the deepest unit defensively for Idaho, but we were pleasantly surprised with this group.
And the starting HAWGS are
6-2, 285, rFr
... Good question. Here's what we have seen so far. Two redshirt freshmen have seen extensive time with the starting offensive line: Adam Korby
(6-2, 285, rFr) at center, and Kris Anderson
(6-3, 290, rFr) at right guard. Both are playing well and very much holding their own. Surrounding Adam and Kris is a starting unit that is rich with experience and proving to be extremely versatile. Left guard has been manned primarily by junior Jade Tadvick
(6-5, 310), who started every position but center last fall. The tackles are a little more dicey, not because of depth problems, but pinning down who will play where. Mammoth junior Hank Therien
(6-7, 322) is back and has played primarily right tackle. At left tackle Nate VanderPol
(6-6, 312) has earned the vast majority of playing time. The wildcard is immensely talented sophomore Desmond Clark
(6-3, 300). When healthy, we've seen him line up this fall at right guard (joining VanderPol, Tadvick, Korby and Therien). We've also seen him work at left tackle for VanderPol. Plus, he started over half the games last season at right tackle as a true freshman. For many fan's, the expectation (from our vantage point at least) would be that if he's ready, he'll play. We'll continue to keep tabs on Desmond's status for the Wazzu game, but suffice it to say that Idaho's depth situation on the offensive line is improving, and is night-and-day compared to 2004.
And speaking of offensive line depth...
At some point this fall, with depth across the interior defensive line showing substantial improvement, versatile sophomore big cat Marcis Fennell
(6-2, 290) moved back
to the offensive line. This single roster move boosted Idaho's OL depth IMMENSELY, as Marcis played extensively in 2004 (including starting 1 game at center and another game at guard). His move back to the offensive side of the trench also immediately makes the battle for the starting center job a lot more intense. Currently working with the #2s as he gets back into the groove of the offensive line routine (having spent the spring at DT), we tip our hat to the young man out of Long Beach Poly.
With the 2005 season opener against Wazzu just around the corner, co-Offensive Coordinator Joel Thomas and the rest of the Vandal staff are putting the finishing touches on the Idaho depth chart. VV.com photographer/writer LARRY JOHNSON was on campus over the weekend to capture the weekend in images.