(all times local to playing site)
|Aug. 30||EASTERN WASHINGTON
|Sept. 8||at Bowling Green||TBA|
|Sept. 15||at LSU||7:00|
||at North Carolina
|Oct. 6||*NEW MEXICO STATE||2:00|
|Oct. 13||*at Texas State
||*at Louisiana Tech
|Nov. 3||*SAN JOSE STATE||2:00|
||at Brigham Young||TBA|
|Nov. 24||*at Utah State
By A.J. Annelus, Idaho Athletic Media Relations
After losing four games by one touchdown or less in 2011, 'FINISH' is the key word head coach Robb Akey has preached since. As the Vandals head into the 2012 season, they are a different team than 12 months ago. They made major progress during the offseason and fall camp to return to the style that led them to a bowl championship in 2009.
"I used the word finish 759 times just in media day," Akey said. "We've hit that 'Finish' since we got in the weight room last winter. … They're going to finish everything. It's all about finishing; doing things better. That's the final line between winning and not winning. It will help us make a difference."
The Vandals are a fast and physical team. There's a revamped, explosive offense that can score from the running game or the passing game. It will be a new-look for Vandal fans.
"New playbook, new concepts and new coaching staff," said Mike Scott, wide receiver and senior captain.
The offense will be led by junior quarterback Dominique Blackman, who has the attributes and leadership to lead an explosive offense. The offense has a deep receiving corps led by Scott, senior Justin Veltung (who is on the Paul Hornung watch list given to the nation's top versatile player), junior college transfers Najee Lovett and Jahrie Level and redshirt freshman Marquan Major. All have high expectations.
Redshirt junior Michael LaGrone, who was also second team all-conference last season, and Clayton Homme, another redshirt junior, will continue to do what they do best with blocking and catching passes from their tight end positions. The running game should be solid with senior Ryan Bass; junior college transfer James Baker, who will put on a beating against opposing defenders, and redshirt freshman speedster Todd Handley.
On the offensive line the Vandals have a "Big Nasty" corps led by sophomore center Mike Marboe, who is on the Rimington Watch List for the nation's top center; senior A.J. Jones at right guard; junior Jordan Johnson at right tackle, and redshirt freshmen Cody Elenz at left tackle and Dallas Sandberg at left guard. Providing depth at one of the youngest positions on the team are junior Larry Dugan, sophomores Spencer Beale and Kyle Salm, and junior college transfers Niklaus Von Rotz and Chester Faiai.
Not much has changed for the Vandals defense for this season. It will continue to be the fast, flying, hard-hitting defense with experience and depth at each position.
The secondary - aka "No Fly Zone," is led by senior captain cornerback Aaron Grymes; hard hitting free safety Gary Walker, who was second team all-conference last season; redshirt junior Tracy Carter at cornerback, and senior Thaad Thompson at strong safety. Solid depth is provided by senior strong safety Trey Williams, redshirt freshman cornerback Solomon Dixon, sophomore free safety Bradley Njoku and true freshman Jayshawn Jordan at corner.
The linebacker corps is led by four seniors - Robert Siavii, Conrad Scheidt, Homer Mauga and Su`a Tuala redshirt freshman Jeremiah Walters and junior college transfer Matt Willis rounding out the depth chart.
The Vandals return a group of defensive linemen with plenty of experience. Coming off the edge are senior defensive ends Benson Mayowa and junior Maxx Forde. In the interior line are junior defensive tackle QuayShawne Buckley and redshirt sophomore Jesse Davis. Sophomores Marius Burgsmueller and Karel Kearney, and freshmen Quinton Bradley and Ryan Edwards provide depth.
"Communication and experience will be the key for our defense to be successful," said Grymes.
Last, but not least the Vandals, have one of the best special teams units in the country with senior All-American punter Bobby Cowan, who is up for the Ray Guy Award for the nation's top punter, and senior kicker Trey Farquhar, who is one of the best kickers in the WAC.