Breaking down the Idaho defense

Nebraska Opponent Defensive Scouting Report
Team: Idaho Vandals
Location: Moscow, Idaho
Colors: Silver and Vandal Gold
Enrollment: 11,730
Conference: Western Athletic (WAC)
Head Coach: Robb Akey (Weber State, 1988): 12-26 in fourth season as head coach (all at Idaho)
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Criner
2010 Record: 1-0
National Ranking: Unranked
Series Record vs. Nebraska: First Meeting
Game Time: Saturday, Sept. 11, 11:30 a.m.
Stadium: Tom Osborne Field - Memorial Stadium (81,067)
TV: FSN Pay Per View
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Up Front: The Vandals return three starters from last year's defensive line including end Aaron Lavarias (6-3, 255), tackle Michael Cosgrove (6-4, 289) and nose tackle Jonah Sataraka (6-2, 294). Benson Mayowa (6-3, 239) will also step in at end after serving as a reserve last year. Lavarias led the team with 4.0 sacks, eight TFLs and five quarterback hurries last season while finishing fifth in total tackles (54). In the season opener, Lavarias added two hurries and a PBU as the defensive line helped Idaho force eight hurries and a pair of interceptions.
In the Middle: The linebacking corps may be Idaho's strongest defensive unit as it returned starters JoJo Dickson (6-2, 235) and Robert Siavii (6-2, 216) while adding junior college transfer Homer Mauga (6-0, 215). Dickson and Siavii combined for 137 tackles, eight TFLs and five PBUs last season. Last week against UND, Mauga had five tackles including the team's only sack while Siavii had two tackles, both for losses. With the game out of hand early, Tre'Shawn Robinson (5-11, 240), a JC transfer, saw extensive action behind Dickson and led the team with nine tackles, including two for loss.
The Back End: Senior strong safety Shiloh Keo (5-11, 216) is on the 2010 Thorpe Award watch list after leading the Vandals with 113 tackles (72 solo) in 2009 while adding five pass breakups, three interceptions and four TFLs. He is one of three returning starters in the secondary along with Isaac Butts (6-0, 185) and Kenneth Patten (5-9, 188) while Gary Walker (6-0, 187) jumps into the rotation at free safety after serving as a backup last year. In the season opener, Keo posted eight tackles including seven solos while forcing one fumble and recovering another and added a 44-yard interception return.
They Said It: "I like the fact that we have more depth. I like the fact I see us performing better on defense. I like the fact we're talking about some weapons we can get the football to a number of guys that have already made plays for us. Those things are very positive." - Head coach Robb Akey on the overall roster depth in 2010.
Quick Hits
***Safety Shiloh Keo is 11th on the Idaho all-time tackles list with 301 entering this weekend's contest at Nebraska.
***The 45-0 shutout last week against North Dakota was the first for Idaho's defense since 1997.
***Idaho's turnaround of plus-six wins (from two wins in 2008 to eight in 2009) was second in the nation last season only behind SMU, which went from 1-11 in 2008 to 8-5 last year.
***Saturday's game at No. 8 Nebraska will mark the third time in four seasons under coach Robb Akey that the Vandals have played a top-10 squad on the road. In Akey's career debut as a head coach, Idaho traveled to Los Angeles to face No. 1 USC on Sept. 1, 2007, losing 38-10. The Vandals also faced No. 6 Boise State last year in Boise, where they lost 63-25.
Idaho Vandals 2010 Schedule
Sept. 4 North Dakota, W, 45-0
Sept. 11 at Nebraska, 11:30 a.m.
Sept. 18 UNLV, 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Colorado State, 3 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Western Michigan, 1 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Louisiana Tech, 3 p.m.
Oct. 23 New Mexico State, 4 p.m.
Oct. 30 at Hawai'I, 10:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 Nevada, 4 p.m.
Nov. 12 Boise State, 8 p.m.
Nov. 19 at Utah State, 2 p.m.
Nov. 26 at Fresno State, 9 p.m.
Dec. 4 San Jose State, 4 p.m.