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Week 3 Defensive Preview: Idaho State

The Bears face an FCS opponent for a second year in a row.

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Scouting Report:

Scheme: Base 3-4 defense

Defensive Coordinator: Roger Cooper

2017 Rush Defense: Ranked 104th overall, 4.82 yards per rush, 206.3 yards per game, 21 touchdowns allowed

2017 Passing Defense: Ranked 199th overall, 10 interceptions, 279 yards per game, 13.91 yards per completion allowed

2017 Red Zone Defense: Ranked 107th overall, 17 rushing touchdowns allowed, 13 passing touchdowns allowed, 10 field goals made

Week 2 Recap: Western State, Won 45–10

Pass Defense: 46% completion percentage, 107 passing yards allowed

Rush Defense: 52 rushing yards on 26 attempts, 0 touchdowns

Total Defense: 1 passing touchdown, 3 turnovers, 135 yards total offense allowed

Defensive Line

Idaho State managed to record just 14 sacks during the entire 2017 season, ranked 106th overall in the FCS. But in this year’s season opener against Western State on Aug. 31, they recorded five sacks. This improvement could be attributed to a change in defensive scheme, switching from a 4-3 to a base 3-4. The three starting defensive linemen led the way in their sack renaissance, combining for three sacks each. The efforts from standout senior Treven Aloi, rising star Raemo Trevino, and big-bodied Hunter Eborn helped the Bengals limit their opponent to only 107 yards passing. Consistent pressure held quarterback Cameron Shumway to a sub-50 completion percentage and 113 offensive yards. Based on the way the defensive line locked up their quarterback’s dual-threat capabilities, Brandon McIlwain and Chase Garbers should share a healthy amount of snaps and diverse playcalls.


Linebacker Paea Moala will be the best player the Bears offense will face on Saturday. Moala is coming off a career-best game, registering 13 tackles, a sack and tackle-for-loss. His leadership as one of the six seniors on the team will play a significant role for the defense’s morale against the FBS opponent Cal. Redshirt-freshman linebacker Aren Manu tied with redshirt-sophomore linebacker Oshea Trujillo for second on the team in tackles with five total against their season-opening opponent Western State. Trujillo was also one of the five players mentioned to record a sack. Western State running backs did not have a meaningful impact, combining for 24 yards on 9 attempts. QB Shumway did what he could to rush the ball on 16 attempts and despite leading his team in rushing yards, only averaged 0.3 yards per rush. The lack of a running game could be attributed to the Bengal’s 31–3 halftime lead, causing Western State’s offense to play from behind and abandon the run. Bears offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who has familiarity with the FCS Big Sky division after serving as the head coach for Eastern Washington, can commit to the run game—expect Patrick Laird to have a big game.

Defensive Backs

Idaho State recorded a defensive touchdown in the waning minutes of the second quarter, putting them up 31–3 at the half. The pick-six was cornerback Caleb Brown’s first career interception and defensive touchdown. Junior Christian McFarland led the way for cornerbacks, collecting five tackles, two for loss, a forced fumble and pass breakup. The secondary shut down an ordinarily productive Western State wide receiver unit—their leading receiver Neil Vanlerberghe maxed out at a mere 28 yards off of two receptions. Standing at 6-2 and 195 lbs, Vanlerberghe played as prototypical outside receiver. He would have recorded more than two receptions because of his height advantage over the smaller Bengals cornerbacks, but his quarterback faced pressure on almost every snap. This could be the game Jordan Duncan (6’1), and Moe Ways (6’4) become more involved in the offense. Both players boast advantageous size and will threaten as mismatch nightmares to Idaho State’s secondary.


How many points will Cal score against the Idaho State defense?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    (11 votes)
  • 50%
    (117 votes)
  • 32%
    (75 votes)
  • 11%
    50 or more
    (26 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now