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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Anything can happen

    Opponent Analysis

    One word can describe how the entire college football season shaped up last season: inexplicable.

    Appalachian State stunned Michigan. Stanford shocked USC. Maybe No-Name Southwestern Polytechnic State University could have pulled off a monumental upset if it existed.

    Arizona’s season was an adventure of its own last year. There were highs of a come-from-behind road win against Washington and beating then-No. 2 Oregon but also the baffling home losses to New Mexico and Stanford.

    If the Wildcats want to avoid a catastrophe and start this season on a positive note, they can’t overlook Idaho. UA head coach Mike Stoops is aware that despite the Vandals’ 1-11 record last year, they can’t be taken lightly.

    Stoops said “”the thing that jumps out at you the most”” is the fact that Idaho returns all 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball and should be a much-improved unit in its second year with Vandal head coach Robb Akey’s system. Idaho runs a variety of formations as evidenced by the three different quarterbacks who were used in at least six games last season, with a different offensive package for each player. The Vandals also use a lot of misdirection plays to create better matchups for their talented running backs, led by sophomore Deonte Jackson, Stoops said.

    “”We have Deonte and Corey White. They’re both good backs,”” Idaho senior offensive lineman Adam Korby said in a phone interview Wednesday. “”You’ve got to expect big things out of them. They make the O-line look good sometimes, too.””

    Another thing the Vandals have in their favor is they won’t be intimidated because they’re playing at a BCS school for the first game of the season. Idaho opened up last year against then-No. 1 USC and didn’t back down one iota, although the 38-10 final score doesn’t reflect it.

    “”They’re just another team. We’ve just got to act like ‘This is just another game,’ and come out there and play the game we know how to play,”” Korby said. “”We’re coming in with high expectations. We’re coming in with the goal that we’re going to come out with a win. We just need to run the ball and keep people off the QB.””

    Not a bad attitude have, seeing as Jackson gashed a Trojan defense – a squad which saw five players taken in the 2008 NFL Draft – for 99 yards on 22 carries. Jackson gained a total of 1,175 yards last season and recorded seven touchdowns on the ground.

    “”Jackson is a guy that you’ve got to be aware of at all times,”” Stoops said. “”He can crease you and he’s an excellent runner for what they do. He’s a big time player.””

    With sophomore quarterback Nathan Enderle leading the huddle for the Vandals, Idaho’s experience on offense could cause some problems for an Arizona defense that returns only three starters.

    “”We expect big things out of (Enderle),”” Korby said. “”Since spring ball and since two-a-days he’s been doing very well for himself so we expect him to do well.””

    Idaho might have allowed 36.9 points last season, but it isn’t a pushover defensively. Junior safeties Shilo Keo and Virdell Larkins anchor an Idaho defense that lost five starters. Keo, last year’s Team MVP, led the team with four interceptions and won’t be afraid of the Wildcats’ aerial attack. Keo had to deal with Hawaii’s Colt Brennan last year and “”held”” him to 369 yards passing.

    “”He’s very physical, he does their punt returns. He’s looks like the leader of their defense group back there when you watch him play,”” Stoops said. “”I think they’ll be a much-improved football team, especially offensively, from where they were at any time.””

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