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#113 Idaho Vandals Preview

Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season.
Knowing the teams now will save you time in August and Matt Fargo is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year.
We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
#113 - Idaho Vandals 2-9 SU; 6-5 ATS Fargo's Take It was an up and down offseason for the Vandals or should I say down and up.
Head coach Nick Holt, who was hired two years ago to turn around the Idaho program, bolted for the NFL before changing his mind and heading back to USC.
But the pain subsided when Dennis Erickson was hired as head coach and he has already made a difference as shown by the over 5,000 tickets sold for the annual spring game.
Now his quest is to improve a team that last won more than three games way back in 2000.
His first order of business was to revamp the defense that was near the bottom of the rankings in almost every category.
It is going to be a small but fast defense which is the norm for his units.
The offense finished very strong last season and with most of the players returning, keeping that momentum going is quite possible.
It is going to be a tough hill to climb and the changes Erickson has and will put into place aren't going to solve a lot of problems this season but this is a team that will have a huge upside in years to come.
Returning Starters on Offense - 9 The Vandals were one of the worst rushing teams in the nation last season, averaging only 78.
4 ypg but that will definitely improve in 2006.
Their feature back, Jayson Bird, played only two games last season because of a broken collarbone but he will be at full strength this year.
He rushed for 859 yards as a freshman and he will be running behind a very veteran offensive line that also had its share of injuries last season.
Quarterback Steve Wichman threw for a ton of yards last season but he had no running game behind him and that was part of the reason for his 18 interceptions.
If he can find some receivers to step up, this could be the most improved offense in the conference.
It is a big if however.
Returning Starters on Defense - 5 This is the side of the ball that will go through the biggest overhaul as mentioned earlier.
The scoring defense finished 113th in the country last season as the unit allowed 34 or more points seven times while giving up point totals of 62 and 70.
Obviously that needs to come down if this team is going to have any sort of success.
The defensive line, linebackers and secondary all have key players returning and well as others coming back from injury.
All but one of the projected starters are either juniors or seniors so there is plenty of experience to make a move but the depth is going to hurt the Vandals from the start.
Schedule Three extremely difficult road games highlight the non-conference portion of the schedule so a 1-3 start to the season is a likely guarantee.
The one win is a home game against 1-AA Idaho St.
The WAC schedule is not overly difficult because of the bottom half of the conference that is very weak.
Boise St.
and Nevada are the two difficult home contests while games against New Mexico St.
and San Jose St.
are very winnable.
Utah St.
is the only road conference game that the Vandals will likely have any shot of winning and even that could be a stretch due to the revenge factor coming into that one.
You can bet on...
Idaho will play hard every week no matter the record or situation since Erickson will tolerate nothing less.
The Vandals will be receiving a large number of points in games at Michigan St.
, Washington St.
and Oregon St.
and none of those three teams are going to be dominant this year so we might catch some value early on.
Despite only two wins last year, Idaho finished in the black against the number and it would not be surprising to see a repeat of that based on the expected improvements even if they will be slight.

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