Wednesday, August 31, 2011

25 Questions about Vandalism

What is their body of work?

I have to believe that Idaho fans are feeling pretty good.  From 2001 to 2008, Idaho had 4 seasons with one win or two.  Not one was a winning season---a Dennis Erickson 4 win year was the high water mark.  In 2009, they went 8-5 and beat BG in the Humanitarian Bowl and while they fell back to 6-7 last season, they are clearly on the right vector.

In other news, they beat WMU in K-zoo 33-13 last year, in 2009 won 34-31 at NIU, and beat BG in the H-Bowl, leaving a three-game winning streak over the MAC.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?


Who are their statistical leaders returning?

QB Brian Reader was #9 in passing yards/game in a back up role.
K Trey Farquhar was #5 in kick scoring.
WR Justin Veltung was #10 in Kickoff returns.
P Bobby Cowan led the WAC in punting.
LB Robert Siavii was #8 in tackles, #6 in tackles for loss and #1 forcing 4 fumbles.
LB Tre'Shawn Robinson was #11 in tackles and #13 in TFL.

What is their turnover ratio?

It isn't great and it hasn't stopped them.  In fact, they were +2 last year and -8 in 2009 when they had their first winning record in the 2000's.


How is their QB Play?

Nathan Enderle, who is currently with the Chicago Bears, spent some time shredding people, but he is gone now.  They have a pretty good replacement, though.  He is senior Brian Reader and he did throw 70-some passes last year, completing a higher percentage than Enderle and having a higher QB efficiency rating, though you don't know about the game situations.  He did start 2 games as a sophomore.  On paper, he would appear to be well set to move in and wear Enderle's shoes.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

Their scoring was down to 26 ppg (from 32 the year before), but both those numbers are high water marks in recent history.  They averaged 5.5 yards per play last year, which is pretty good.

Can they run the ball?

They did not do a great job on the run last year (3.1 yards per rush), but they have 3 of their to 4 rushers back as well as a transfer from Arizona State.  In my opinion, a key to the game is if BG defends the run...if the Vandals establish the run, you are looking at a long night.

Do they pass the ball?

Their QB is new and they have two WRs injured, so this is at least a slightly open question.  Their identity certainly is as a team that can throw.

How is their run/pass balance?

Last year, they ran the ball on only 40% of their plays, which is a really pass-oriented offense.  Coach said they were more balanced in 2009.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Last year they converted 43% which is really, really good.

Do they score in the red zone?

They had a high scoring percentage but a lot of field goals.  They averaged only 4 points per trip, which is not especially good.  Of course, that was last year.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They were sacked 45 times last year.  They did throw a ton of passes.  They were sacked on 7.5% of their passing attempts, which is pretty high.  (In fact, over 10% of their passing plays results in sacks or INTs).  Our blog swap did reveal that they are optimistic about their offensive line.

This is a team with a strong offensive history and some excellent playmakers.  They are not entirely healthy, and have a new QB who from all appearances is well prepared.  This is an good test right out of the box for our young defense.  To get anywhere, they will need to stop the run.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

Last year, they allowed 28 points per game, which is the best they have had in years.  They did, however, allow 5.9 yards per play, which is a lot, suggesting some good fortune in those scoring numbers.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They allowed 5.0 yards a rush last year, which is a lot.  (BG allowed 5.3).

Could they be passed on?

They allowed 60% completions and allowed a higher efficiency ranking than they gained, even with Enderle.  Their yard per game is held down by the number of rushing attempts against them.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They did reasonably well, at 36%

Do they defend in the red zone?

They were excellent in the red zone (accounting for the points per game that are better than you might suspect).  They allowed less than 4 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

They had 31 sacks, which given the small number of attempts against them, was pretty good.  They got sacks on 6.87% of passing attempts.

The defense certainly appears to have improved.  They are probably not as good as their scoring numbers indicate, however, and Phil Steele projects ongoing defensive line issues.  It may be that if the Falcons have a chance to show what the O-line can do, this will be it.

Special Teams:


Their returning punter led the WAC last season.

Punt Return?

It was not a strong point last year and is hard to project.


Their kicker, Trey Farquhar is on the Lou Groza list.  He is very accurate and has a career long of 54 yards and that was outside.  He was 14 of 17 inside 40 yards last year.


Bunch of touchbacks for this guy.

Kickoff Return?

They were strong last year, but with Veltung questionable, it takes a little hit.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Well, a few things.  Idaho has an advantage in their home stadium, especially an odd environment like the Kibbie Dome.  They are looking at a bowl berth....if that's going to happen, they really need this win, even in a Boise-free WAC.  They are picked by Steele for 5th in the WAC, and if so, it certainly does not make them impossible to beat.  For BG, it is a test for how far the team has come from last year...on both sides of the ball, and mostly upfront.

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