Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Filler #12: Idaho

Twelve weeks ago I decided to do a brief 2010 summary and preview of each of the teams Nevada will face in 2011. Now I find myself at the end of that journey and wondering just what the hell I'm going to blog about until fall practices start (take a drinking game sip for that one!). It's been a great ride, and if I had to summarize it all in one word, I would say it was "lugubrious" (I have no idea what that actually means -- I just like how it sounds).

So go ahead and have some cake whilst I rummage through some old ideas I scribbled down somewhere a while back. Oh, and you might as well read this Idaho preview while you're here.

Idaho Vandals

The Vandals didn't play in a bowl game last year after playing in one the year before. It's not much different than what they're traditionally used to, but they at least came close to bowl eligibility this time as opposed to completely stinking up the place from the get-go. The question on everyone's mind ("everyone" meaning "three people" in this case) is aside from a head coach who apparently can't count, what else does Idaho have going for them heading into 2011?


Scoring: 26.6 points per game (t-60th)
Rushing: 89.9 yards per game (118th)
Passing: 296.9 yards per game (10th)
Total: 386.8 yards per game (55th)
1st Downs: 20.0 per game (t-56th)
3rd Down Conversions: 43.4% (t-39th)
Red Zone Conversions: 81.3% (t-67th)


Scoring: 28.3 points per game (t-70th)
Rushing: 188.9 yards per game (t-95th)
Passing: 231.4 yards per game (87th)
Total: 420.3 yards per game (95th)
Sacks: 31.0 (t-28th)
Tackles for Loss: 88.0 (t-21st)
Turnover Margin: +2 (t-45th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 21 (t-10th)
Kickoff Returns: 22.8 yards per return (t-36th)
Punts: 44.4 yards per punt (11th)
Punt Returns: 3.7 yards per return (112th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 4 - Number of head coaching hires the Vandals made in the eleven years between their last two bowl appearances (Tom Cable, Nick Holt, Dennis Erickson and Robb Akey); 126 and 10 - The Vandals' 2010 team high for rushing yards in a single game, and the number of times a Nevada player surpassed that mark last year, respectively; 34.7 - Average margin of defeat in each of Idaho's six losses to Nevada since they joined the WAC in 2005.

If you need any proof as to why NFL-caliber talent doesn't always translate to college success, look no further than Idaho and Nevada. Each team had three players selected in the 2010 draft: Shiloh Keo, Nathan Enderle and Daniel Hardy for the Vandals, and Colin Kaepernick, Dontay Moch and Virgil Green for the Pack. Nevada finished 13-1 and ranked in the top fifteen of all major polls, while Idaho...did not.

I've said before that the job Robb Akey has done to bring Idaho football up to its current level is commendable and one of the most underrated examples of building up a program you'll find anywhere. Taking a team whose previous three head coaches had gone 20-55 from 2000 to 2006 and raising expectations to a level where a 6-7 season is considered a disappointment ain't easy. But with all of that said, considering who the Vandals lose off of last year's team and the bleak future they face in the new WAC after this season, they could be in for another prolonged bumpy ride not unlike their brief stint in the Sun Belt.

Look no further than who they lose on offense to see this for yourselves: two starters on the O-line, Hardy, running back Deonte Jackson, Enderle and receivers Eric Greenwood and Maurice Shaw. The situation is marginally better on defense, with the not inconsiderable productivity of Keo and end Aaron Lavarias the only major losses. When your kicker (Trey Farquhar) and punter (Bobby Cowan) are the best returning players of note, and the best remaining players on the rest of the team are Justin Veltung and Robert Siavii, 5-7 is probably the most optimistic you can be for 2011.

So that was the Summer Filler series. I hope I can look back on these in December and not find too many mistakes I made. But it is my blog, after all, so the "Edit" button is always an option, and you'd never be the wiser if I went that route. You'll see me again on Friday when I start a unit-by-unit look at what the Pack will be up against this season.

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