For our Q&A this week, we asked Jerry Miller a few questions about his Bengals. Jerry is the voice of the Bengals, calling the radio broadcasts for Idaho State for the past 18 years and is also the Director of Student Media at ISU.
1. What does Idaho State do offensively? Are they a wide open type of team, or is their attack more traditional?
Since the arrival of Mike Kramer as head coach in 2011, his emphasis has been to turn the Bengals back into the "Throwin' Idahoans"...a nickname they earned after winning the 1-AA (now FCS) National Championship in 1981. That was a long time ago, but with Kevin Yost at QB the last two years and Justin Arias taking over the reins this year, there's no doubt the sails are still set in that direction. Sure, they'd like to run, and may be better at it this year than the past two seasons, but it's still probably throw first, run second. You'll often likely see formations with 5 receivers and no RBs depending on D&D...but not just in 2nd and 3rd-and-long. He uses his tight end a lot, too, which is good news, considering our TE the last three years is now in the NFL with New Orleans.
2. Where is the strength of ISU's defense?
Last year I probably would have answered this by saying "The offense and it's ability to move the ball and eat up time off the clock" (we gave up 70 or more pts. four times last year)! This year, it's nice to say we're a LOT more solid on the DL and at LB, which takes some of the pressure off our DBs. We've sacked our opponents 10 times in two games this season already (granted against lower division schools). We only had 9 sacks all season long in 2012. Last year, 7 of our top 9 tacklers on the season were DBs. So far this year, 5 of our top 7 tacklers either play LB or DL...only two are DBs.
3. Who are the biggest playmakers that the Bengals have on both sides of the ball?
Offense - QB Justin Arias, WR Cam Richmond, TE Travis Wright, RB Xavier Finner; Defense -- LB Mitch Beckstead, LB PJ Gremaud, DB Cam Gupton; Special Teams - PK Brendon Garcia (FG's 7-7, PATs 6-7)
4. Looking back at ISU's record lately, it has been a long time since they've had a winning season, but they're off to a 2-0 start this year. Is there some optimism around the program that this may be a better team than they've fielded recently?
There's no doubt that we're a better team than we've had for the past four or five seasons, but our two wins have still come against D-II Schools...we're realistic about that. When Coach Kramer came on board, he was very clear about the fact that in order to build a program that would be competitive in the FCS every year, he would have to not just re-build...but actually tear down what was in place before and replace it. So he's been going through some demolition for the past two years...and has now dug out a new foundation, poured the forms, and is now working on framing. We're still a good two years away from competing for a Big Sky title.
5. What in your opinion will be ISU's gameplan against the Huskies?
In my opinion, the Bengals need to keep the offense on the field as long as possible. We need to be able to shorten the game by running off some time. The rub is that's not our offensive personality. We run no-huddle, and we're a lot better at it this year than at any time in the past five years. We're not a team that can grind out three yards a carry yet...so we'll have to figure out a way to throw the ball and still run the clock. Our defense is better than it's been, but we still have to keep it off the field as much as possible. We've got to stop you guys from quick, long scoring plays. Too many of those from you and we give up 70 again. The most important part of our game plan, though, is to come away without injuries.
6. I assume you're making the trip to Husky Stadium for the game; have you been before, or will this be your first time? What are you looking forward to on the trip?
I've driven past before, but have never been to Husky Stadium. I'm excited about it. Over the last five years I've been to Oklahoma. Georgia, Nebraska, BYU, Washington State, Air Force and Arizona State. I'm in my 18th year of doing ISU football and men's hoops, and 26th year overall of broadcasting ISU sports...and I've been almost too many places to remember, but I love what I do. Every new stadium and arena with a great history and tradition like Husky Stadium allows me to take my boyhood dreams just one step further. I'm also always amazed at the disparity of facilities and options between BIG schools and little schools. We've upgraded a TON at ISU the past five years, and still can't even hold a candle to what we'll see at your place and others we've played at recently. Our guys play to get an education and because they love the game. They're not big-time four and five-star recruits like you guys all get. Our players look forward to a trip like this for the same reason I do...boyhood dreams.
Thanks to Jerry for doing this Q&A with us at the Dawg Pound, we look forward to seeing the Idaho State Bengals this Saturday. The Bengals are ready for it too:
we are ready to go...1st trip...always a cluster...charter is good...gotta avoid catastrphe...protect the qb...they are very good...— michael kramer (@kramertige51) September 19, 2013