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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 10, 2009 at 8:54 PM

Previewing Idaho

Less than 48 hours now until the Huskies take on Idaho, so thought it a good time to present a little preview of the Vandals.
Idaho is in its third year under Robb Akey, the former Washington State defensive coordinator who took over when Dennis Erickson left abruptly — though is there really any other way? — for Arizona State.
UI went 1-11 and 2-10 the last two years, including a 70-0 loss to start the season last year at Arizona, but is 1-0 this season after winning at New Mexico State last weekend. That was Idaho’s first season-opening win since 1999.
Akey says he feels his team is more physically mature and more ready to compete now after a couple of years in his system.
“I think we are starting to see some depth starting to build at some positions,” he said earlier this week.
Idaho’s position may be running back where it has three pretty quality players led by Deonte Jackson, whose uncle is former Oregon State star Steven Jackson. One of his backsups is DeMaundray Woolridge, who played at Washington State in 2005-2006.
Idaho also has an experienced QB in junior Nathan Enderle, who was recruited to Idaho by Nick Holt, and a veteran offensive line led by 6-6, 330 guard Mike Iupati, who is considered a legit NFL prospect.
Defensively, Idaho has six starters returning. The best Idaho defender may be strong safety Shiloh Keo of Archbishop Murphy in Everett. He had a key interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter last week to seal the win over New Mexico State. Keo also returns punts for the Vandals.
Idaho also has 26 Washington players on its roster. Most notable to UW fans may be WR Eric Greenwood, whose father, Scott, was the starting tight end on the 1977 UW Rose Bowl team; and cornerback Aaron Grymes, who played at West Seattle and committed to UW last year when Tyrone Willingham was still coach before changing to Idaho when the new staff asked him to grayshirt. Grymes is a backup cornerback and made two tackles on special teams against New Mexico State. Greenwood is Idaho’s starting “X” receiver and had two catches for 14 yards last week.
And though not to the level of UW’s staff having an Idaho flavor, some of the Vandals coaches are familiar names to UW fans. Offensive coordinator Steve Axman was the QB coach and assistant head coach at UW under Rick Neuheisel and returned for a stint as WR coach in 2004. And WR coach Luther Carr is the son of former UW great Luther Carr (56-58) and former head coach at Garfield High
Here is a scouting report on the Vandals from Jesse Baumgartner, a writer for The Lewiston Tribune in Lewiston, Idaho:

“The Idaho Vandals aren’t used to early-season success – even if it’s just one game. Their 21-6 WAC win against New Mexico State last Saturday was the program’s first victory in the season opener since 1999 against Eastern Washington. If you take out wins against FCS (I-AA) teams, they had started the last three seasons by losing seven, eleven (every game) and three games in a row, respectively. And several of the years before that were no better.
Head coach Robb Akey is in Year 3 of what has been an extensive and struggle-filled rebuilding process. It started back in 2007 when he cleaned house by letting go of 17 scholarship players, and now he finally finds himself with a little bit of depth. Most of that comes on offense, with a third-year starter at QB in Nathan Enderle, and three running backs in Deonte Jackson (nephew of St. Louis Rams RB, Steven), Princeton McCarty (UI’s breakaway threat) and former WSU power back DeMaundray Woolridge. The Vandals also feature some experience at wide receiver, and O-coordinator Steve Axman has been preaching a big-play philosophy that came to fruition during the first half against New Mexico State with two long pass plays and a 67-yard dash from McCarty.
But the Vandals are still quite young on the defensive side of the ball. Two of the secondary starters — CB Kenny Patten and SS Jeromy Jones — have just a season of experience, while the D-line is 50 percent sophomores. Sophomore Robert Siavii also starts at weak-side linebacker. Defensive coordinator Mark Criner has tried to simplify things for this unit after a 2008 season that set new standards for futility (472 yards allowed per game), and against New Mexico State the defense found success with an umbrella-like pass scheme that limited big plays and allowed them to focus on stopping the run. But that also came against an Aggie team with a new head coach and an offense that was obviously still on training wheels.
It figures to be one step at a time with this Vandal team because of both youth and the lack of success the program has had. An improved UW team presents a far greater challenge, and the big test will most likely come with the secondary and a depth-challenged defensive line. The UI kicker, punter, long snapper and holder are also brand-new, and a general lack of experience on special teams makes that area a big question mark as the Vandals enter a much more electric atmosphere at Husky Stadium.”

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