[ COLLEGE FOOTBALL ]
a good game
Nick Holt knows what it takes to win a national championship. Michael Harrington knows what it takes to be a Heisman Trophy candidate and NFL quarterback.
And that's about as close as Idaho football -- an also-ran in the Sun Belt that is rebuilding and headed to the WAC after this year -- can claim to be to the big-time at this point.
Holt, an assistant coach at USC last year, became the Vandals' new head man after last season. Harrington, Idaho's starting quarterback, is the younger brother of Joey Harrington, the former Oregon star who was up for college football's biggest individual honor a couple of years ago and now plays for the Detroit Lions.
Holt was a former assistant at Idaho, so he knew what he was getting into. Still, some might question the wisdom of his harsh words toward Boise State, the Vandals' rival and season-opening opponent Saturday.
Holt basically verbalized the lack of love between the two programs in no uncertain terms, even making the extra effort to rank the Broncos below the also-loathed Washington State Cougars. So if heavily favored Boise State needed a wakeup call, well, the phone rang and Holt was on the other end to say good morning.
"I can't stand (Boise State or Washington State), but ... we're so close to Washington State, and I respect Bill Doba. He's a heck of a football coach," Holt told a Spokane TV station. "But we can't stand the Cougars, and we definitely can't stand those guys down south. I don't even want to say their names."
Harrington might wish his coach hadn't done that after Saturday's game, especially since his best bodyguard, 6-foot-7, 321-pound sophomore left tackle Hank Therien, will sit this one out with a one-game suspension. Jade Tadvick and Nate VanderPol are the other potential standouts on a young offensive line.
Harrington is a junior with a strong arm and good mobility, which he will need in Holt's spread offense. He started the first five games of 2003 before giving way to senior Brian Lindgren. Harrington completed 90 of 196 passes for 996 yards and threw five touchdown passes and was intercepted four times.
He had his better games against the top competition, with career highs of 25 completions and 273 yards against Boise State and two TD passes at Washington.
Holt said the Vandals will use several different runners in their one-back offense, with sophomore Cliff Mason, true freshmen Jayson Bird and Rolly Lumbala and senior Justin Wall all possibilities. Mason scored on four of eight carries in a recent scrimmage.
Junior Jeff Stowe and sophomore Wendell Octave are among the top receivers.
Defensive backs J.R. Ruffin and Daniel Dykes have scrimmaged well, but the real strength of the defense should come from ends Mike Anderson and Brandon Kania. Anderson is a converted linebacker who led the Vandals with 97 tackles (44 solo and 53 assists) as a sophomore last year.
A lot of Anderson's stops in 2003 were too far downfield. Idaho gave up 416.1 yards per game last year, and was 108th nationally against the run. The likely starting trio of Nate Nichols, Cole Snyder and Robert Davis probably can't do much worse, despite its lack of experience.
Mike Barrow will handle the punting and kicking, and Ruffin is a talented return man.
Basic Offense: Multiple
Basic Defense: Multiple
2003 Record: 3-9 (3-4 Sun Belt)
Lettermen Ret./Lost: 30/22
Starters Ret./Lost: 7/17
Head Coach: Nick Holt (0-0)
||at New Mexico St.
||at Arkansas St.
||at Boise State
||at Utah State
||at Eastern Michigan
||at Middle Tennessee
||at Troy State
||at North Texas