For the latest OFFICIAL Week 1 pre-game Football Release (in PDF format), click below:
LINK: OFFICIAL Site Weekly Football Release
To view the 2-deep depth chart we maintain here, with links to player bios maintained on this site, click the link below:
LINK: VandalVenue.com 2-Deep Depth Chart (2005)
Leading them into battle... This afternoon's announcement that senior Michael Harrington, a 12-game starter and team captain in 2004 who ranks #2 on Idaho's all time single season completion percentage list with a 65.8 completion percentage last fall, rounds out Idaho's first depth chart for 2005. Harrington was solid throughout camp and demonstrated his knowledge of the system by making few critical mistakes. Battling Mike has been 2004 JC Gridwire All-American Steve Wichman who has exhibited serious arm strength in pushing Harrington for the starting role. Wichman is expected to get his shot early in this game, and the battle that raged in spring and fall drills is expected to carry on throughout the season. From a fan's perspective, it's never bad seeing this much competition within the QB ranks, and we look forward to watching both athletes perform this fall.
Opening up the playbook... We won't elaborate, but Vandal fans can expect a bit more "variety" in the Idaho offense this fall...and we're not talking about the gimmicky stuff either. How deep into the playbook Idaho digs against Wazzu will depend on a number of factors, not the least of which will be how the offensive line does against Washington State's front seven. The line doesn't have to win every down to be successful, but they have to win enough to set plays up and gain some confidence moving the ball (....hmmmmm, sounds like a key...). Behind the likes of Nate VanderPol (6-6, 314, a 1st Team AP All-State selection in high school out of Washington who started 10 games for Idaho last year), Hank Therien (6-7, 320, a 2004 pre-season All Conference selection and 14 game starter over the last 2 years), Jade Tadvick (6-5, 304, a 20 game starter over the past two years), and redshirt freshman hosses Adam Korby (6-3, 285, snagged the starting job in spring and never gave it up) and Kristopher Anderson (6-3, 291, listed #2 in depth chart as a true freshman), Idaho should be able to garner some success. Expect to also see plenty of a couple linemen who saw serious playing time in '04 in sophomores Marcis Fennell (6-2, 301, worked with DTs throughout spring and half-way through fall camp) and Desmond Clark (6-3, 317 phenom who started over half of Idaho's games last fall as a true freshmen, has been battling migraines this fall). These big cats, combined with the rest of the depth chart, give Idaho some depth to work with going into the '05 campaign.
Rocket man... Expected to come in and hit the deck running, true freshman speedster Wesley Williams out of southern California's Esperanza High School has been named the starting punt returner in this game. The Cougs boast a fabulous punter who can get some air under the ball (and in fact may kick the air right out of the ball once or twice), and Wesley might just be a solid answer. His NIKE Fastest Forty and CIF Track State Championship speed is an element to the Vandal game that Holt and crew are working to build, and could land him on the field as a cornerback, in addition to work as a special teams demon.
Trench warfare.... Idaho had massive holes to fill (literally) at defensive line when Holt took over the reigns of the Vandal program, and the depth that has formed in just 2 recruiting classes on this unit is impressive. On the inside 3 of the 5 listed in the depth chart didn't play a down for Idaho last year. Back is monster Siua Musika and senior Jeff Edwards, who will be joined by JC transfer Ryan Davis (earned the starting nod in this game...hats off to the young man), redshirt freshman Alex Toailoa (who could have played - and possibly started - last year as a true had an injury not sidelined him for the year), and sophomore Andrew Stobart who missed all of '04 recovering from an off-season automobile accident. As Coach Holt says, there probably isn't a "super-star" in this crew (at least not yet), but they are a hard working gang with size and talent to compete at this level...something Idaho simply hasn't had in years. Off the edge, senior Mike Bonelli gets the starting nod at defensive end and will be joined by JC transfer Charles Campbell on the first unit. Rotating in will be an agile group of youngsters including sophomores Benjamin Alexander and Brandon Ogletree, redshirt freshman Taylor Rust, and true freshman Josh Shaw. Collectively the unit goes 2-deep across the board with experience (granted, both Ogletree and Alexander worked at linebacker last fall as true freshmen), and should do a better job of disrupting ball movement in '05.
Reviving Idaho's aerial attack.... It's been awhile since Idaho had a solid rotation of receivers to send out "over the middle." This fall several athletes in the chart should be able to stretch the field a bit and give the offense some options that they simply didn't have in '04. Collectively the unit is predominantly young and relatively inexperienced, but the talent and potential is there. Among the starters are Daniel Smith (JC transfer has been very smooth in spring and fall drills), redshirt freshman Lee Smith (sharp, consistent routes with nice hands), and the ongoing battle between junior Wendell Octave and sophomore Desmond Belton to claim the top Flanker spot. The rest of the rotation includes grayshirt freshman speedster Tracy Ford, JC transfer big man Matt Askew who had a stellar spring game and should see plenty of action, plus sophomores Christian Populis and Ryan Heacock. Any in this group could spark the unit, and all will play key roles in transporting Idaho via the air Thursday night.
Defensive backfield shaping up.... Losing talented sophomore safety Jevon Butler for the opener is a disappointment, but hats off to true freshman Jason Brown for hitting the Moscow campus and staking his claim to the backup safety role....BOTH backup safety roles none-the-less! A big kid that plays fast, he's the product of high school powerhouse Long Beach Poly and had a shot at multiple positions this camp (including runningback). He'll be backing up 12 games starter D.J. Dykes at strong safety and JC transfer Tone Taupule, who redshirted at Oregon State before coming to Idaho via Compton College. Flanking the safeties will be cornerbacks Jason Martin, Herb Cash and Reggie Jones, all with 1-A game experience (Cash and Jones played last fall, Martin played as a true frosh at Arizona). Joining the rotation is JC recruit DeAngelo Ramsey, giving the unit some size with good speed in the rotation. Against Wazzu's typically loaded wide receiver depth chart, led by immensely talented wideouts Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus, Idaho will certainly have their hands full. Fortunately, the Vandals have some solid experience to draw upon.
The heart and sole of this team... We haven't said much about the linebacking corp or the runningback rotation for Idaho this fall, but they both represent the deepest units on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Cole Snyder, Nate Nichols and Mike Anderson form a wall that has the potential to be dominant in '05. The unit is fast with great vision, and goes 2- or 3-deep at each position with athletes that will see serious playing time all season. Similarly, runningbacks Jayson Bird and Rolly Lumbala form a battering ram with deceptive breakaway speed that gives Idaho a brutal 1-2 punch from any point on the field. Mix in third option Antwaun Sherman, a special teams weapon at kick returner, and Idaho has a nice change of pace at its disposal. The success of both units, however, depends on how well the line in front of them performs. With strong line play on both sides of the ball, these units could be impressive in '05. Why can we say this? Because we've seen how well they've done when the lines have struggled.
A word on special teams... Finally, a quick comment on special teams. Mike Barrow has been able to focus strictly on kicking this fall, and this may be one of the best special teams moves of the off-season. The junior has done well in the practices we've seen in camp, including getting under his kickoff to get the ball deeper down field more consistently. He's also shown steady progress from week-to-week in the field goal department (EDITOR'S NOTE: In 2004, Barrow did not attempt a single kick any closer than 30 yards...he had 8 attempts from 40 yards or more - connecting on 3 of those - and went 1 for 4 from 30 to 39 yards). Also performing well this camp has been freshman punter T.J. Conley. The kid does a nice job getting under the ball and giving our coverage unit a chance to make a play. Both have been a pleasant "surprise" this camp.