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Idaho Vandals position break down

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Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:44 pm | Updated: 2:35 pm, Fri Aug 29, 2014.

Quarterback: The Idaho offense will be run by redshirt freshman Chad Chalich. In his first two collegiate starts, Chalich has done a solid job of moving the ball through the air. On his first drive against North Texas in the season opener, he marched his team down the field and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass. Over the course of his two games he has gone 41-59 for 412 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Chalich does not have the greatest ball security on the ground, as he has fumbled and lost the ball three times. Look for him to run the football as well, as he leads the team in rushing attempts with 32 for 56 yards.

Running back: The Vandals’ running game is a big part of their offense. They use a number of backs as well as quarterbacks throughout the game. Their current leading rusher is junior quarterback Josh McCain, who on 12 attempts has rushed for 73 yards. Junior running back Jerrel Brown is the team’s next leading rusher with 71 yards on seven attempts. Despite the two leading rushers, the difference maker at running back will be senior running back James Baker. I feel Baker will be the difference maker because he has the most rushing attempts of any running back. Baker has run the ball 15 times for just 37 yards, but he is also the only running back to score a rushing touchdown on the season.

Wide Receiver: The receiver who has the biggest impact in the Vandals’ offense is junior Dezmon Epps. He has shown he has the best chemistry with quarterback Chalich by being his most targeted receiver. On the season, Epps has made 14 receptions for 155 yards. Epps’ 14 receptions are seven more than the next receiver, senior tight end Michael LaGrone, who has made seven receptions for 126 yards. Epps does not have a lot of size, coming in at 5-foot-10, but he is a speed receiver. If any receiver from the Vandals has big play ability, it’s Epps.

Offensive Line: The play of the offensive line will be a crucial factor in this game. On the season the Vandals have given up 11 sacks in just two games. Those 11 sacks have resulted in three fumbles by quarterback Chalich. A lot of pressure will fall on redshirt freshman left tackle Calvin White. White will have to protect Chalich’s blind side and try to limit the number of sacks as well as fumbles. Expect him and the rest of the offensive line to open up some more holes to get the Vandals’ running game going early on.

Defensive Line: On the defensive line, watch out for junior defensive end Maxx Forde coming around the edge. Last season in 12 games, Forde recorded 37 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. This season he is the leader of the defensive line with 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss to go with half a sack. Forde comes in as the most experienced defensive end and it will be up to him to set the tone. The Vandals will rely heavily on Forde to stop the Huskies’ run game and try to contain quarterback Jordan Lynch.

Linebackers: The do-it-all junior linebacker Marc Millan is the player to watch on the Vandals’ defense. This is Millan’s first season at Idaho after transferring from Santa Ana College. At Santa Ana College, he recorded 70 tackles in addition to five sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. Idaho head coach Paul Petrino is more than excited to have Millan on his squad.

“Marc is a guy who really flies around,” Petrino said, according to govandals.com. “He plays the game the way you want to see it played – he can go sideline to sideline, make tackles and plays with great passion.” This season Millan leads the Vandals with 19 tackles, four tackles for a loss and two sacks.

Defensive Back: Junior safety Bradley Njoku will be the Vandals’ safety blanket. This season he is the second leading tackler for Idaho, recording 14 tackles. He has shown he can stop the run effectively and he has recorded two tackles for a loss. As a safety, he is strong in pass coverage. He has recorded one interception as well as one pass deflection on the season. With how much the Huskies run the ball, expect Njoku to play up in the box to try and stop the Huskies from breaking a run for a big gain.

Special Teams: Freshman Austin Rehkow does it all for the Vandals. This season he is their kicker, punter and he handles the kickoffs. He has not gotten off to a great start kicking field goals, as he is one-for-three on the season, hitting a 41-yard field goal last week against Wyoming. Where he has thrived is in the punt game. He has recorded 15 punts on the season, accumulating 718 net yards. Of those 15 punts, eight of them have been 50 yards or more. What Rehkow excels at is pinning opposing teams inside their 20-yard line as he has done that five times this season. Look for him to try to pin the Huskies deep in their own zone.

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