2009 Opponent Previews: Idaho State



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Offense: No one in their right mind believes that the Bengals are going to come to Norman and pull an Appalachian State but that doesn’t mean that Idaho State isn’t void of talent. The talent may still be developing but it is there. Junior quarterback Kyle Blum has a rocket arm and isn’t afraid to take a rest. After coming in for Russel Hill in the second half of the Weber State game last season, Blum was awarded two more starts, going 1-1, and provided the Bengals their lone win of the season.

Idaho State hasn’t had a quarterback start every game of a season since 2004 so we must take the time to look at the backup. An outsider may be stunned to find that ISU’s backup quarterback, Russel Hill, has a career completion of 60.5% and has thrown 28 touchdowns over a career that includes 428 completions. Should Blum go down the Bengals are still set with a very solid quarterback.

 

Behind the quarterbacks ISU has a stable of eight running backs but very little experience. Clint Knickrehm led the team in rushing last season with 456 yards and while he’s a big/bruising back with deceptive speed he’d better stay healthy because there are no other running backs on the roster that’ve carried the ball in a game. Transfers Jordan Scott and Stew Tracy have a lot expected of them and have the speed and shiftiness to be a nice complement to Knickrehm.

 

So who is going to be catching the ball? That’s a great question! Jaron Taylor led the team in touchdown receptions last year with 6 and racked up 735 yards on 55 receptions. He returns to the team, after having his `08 season cut short due to injury, as a senior looking to once again be an impact player. Behind him Isaiah Burel placed second on the team with 56 receptions and was third on the team with 607 receiving yards.

 

Defense: In 2008 Idaho State gave up a Big Sky Conference worst 494 points. When your offense only scores 256 resulting in a -238 margin its no surprise to see a team finish with a 1-11 record. Obviously the Bengals are looking for an improvement in 2009 and quite frankly the can’t get much worse.

 

Trying to change the identity of the team defense will be a cast of new characters motivated by the leadership of some strong veterans. Along the defensive line Sean Rutten is looking to secure a starting spot after finishing second among the defensive linemen with 34 tackles despite not starting a single game in `08. Linebacker Phillip Arias placed second on the team in total tackles last year as a sophomore with 64. He looks to be the leader of the defense in `09 and will not doubt anchor the linebackers. In the secondary its senior corner Michael Wright who will be pushing the Bengal defense to improve in `09. Wright finished with 59 tackles last season which was third most on the team and tops among the secondary.

 

Outlook: There are so many questions yet to be answered with this team but it appears that there is enough young talent there to compliment the veteran leadership that improvement is eminent. While there is little to no chance of them winning the Big Sky Conference, the door is open for them to place in the top four. However, the defense is going to have to shore up quickly for there to be any chance of that.

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