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Prelude to a Season: #14

14.) Boise State Broncos

Boise StateWhat You Need to Know
Ask a college football fan who they would dub the Team of the Last Decade, and you’ll receive a plethora of answers from USC to Florida to Oklahoma to LSU. But the knowledgeable fan and the stat-mongers will point to the Boise State Broncos as the model of success and excellence over the last decade. 2001 marked the first season of Dan Hawkins, and also the lowest total of wins in his 5-year career with 8. His 53-11 record was instrumental in landing him a job as Head Coach at Colorado, and his recruiting was instrumental in ensuring current head coach Chris Petersen would be successful when taking over in 2006.

Petersen certainly announced his presence with authority, leading the Broncos to a 13-0 record and an epic upset of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, a game that many fans and players at non-BCS Conference programs will point to as the reason why smaller schools and programs deserve a seat at the table. Petersen’s three-year record? 35-4. Impressive.

As 2009 dawns, Petersen finds himself in one of the most enviable positions a non-BCS coach could. His team is ranked highly to start the year, they have marquee non-conference games on the schedule, and the buzz around Boise State is certainly noticeable. Plus, having a 44-game regular season home winning streak certainly makes life in Boise enjoyable.

Offensively for the Broncos, they return 6 full-time starters from the 2008 squad, including their sophomore QB Kellen Moore, an unbelievably accurate passer, capable of putting up gigantic numbers and leading a team to victory after victory. The Broncos also return 3 of 5 offensive line starters. Where the Broncos will feel their losses is at the skill positions. Ian Johnson, the second most productive rusher in school history, is no longer around, but junior Jeremy Avery saw plenty of action last season. The wide receiver position has the most losses, as they lose 4 of their top 6 pass catchers, including Jeremy Childs and Vinny Perretta, who combined for nearly 1600 yards and 9 TDs last season. Junior WR Austin Pettis and sophomore TE Kyle Efaw are the most experienced returning starters, but the BSU receiving corps is certainly talented, despite their inexperience.

Defensively, the Broncos return only 5 starters from a unit that was simply dominating last season. Giving up only 12.6 points per game in 08 placed the Broncos #3 in the nation. Their 308 yards per game given up places them 19th in the country for total yardage. The Broncos lost key components of that unit, like 1st Team All WAC free safety Ellis Powers, LBs Kyle Gingg and Tim Brady, but their most important losses come along the defensive line where they lose 3 of 4 full-time starters. The lone returner for the front 4 is junior DE Ryan Winterswyk, a 1st Team All WAC selection. The secondary is veteran and exceptionally talented, returning 3 of 4 starters including All-WAC selections junior SS Jeron Johnson and senior CB Kyle Wilson, whom also is an electrifying punt returner. Boise is clearly a cut above not only the WAC but also every team on their schedule.

When it comes to that schedule, Boise State has a challenging season opener against the Ducks of Oregon, but gets them at Bronco Stadium, where road teams simply do not win. With road contests against Tulsa and Fresno State as well as home contests against Nevada and Miami (Ohio), the Broncos find themselves with no games on the schedule that they won’t be favored in.

Simply put, this has been a fantastic decade to be a Boise State fan. From the Cinderella 2006 season to the unbelievable home winning streak, to a conference that is easily winnable, Boise State has had quite a run. 2009 looks to add more hardware to that trophy case and more bullet points to that impressive resume.

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats
QB Kellen Moore: 281-405, 3486 yds, 25 TDs, 10 INTs
WR Austin Pettis: 49 rec, 567 yds, 9 TDs
SS Jeron Johnson: 98 tkls, 4.5 TFL, 3 INTs

Game to Watch
Out of conference, the biggest game by name will be the season opener against Oregon (9/3). The toughest game out of conference may be their October 14th matchup at Tulsa. Mid-week, national audience, and mid-season means quite a bit is on the line for the Broncos. In conference, the toughest tests for Boise State will be their September 18th battle at Fresno State and their November 27th game at home against Nevada.

They’ll Do Well If…
… the young and relatively inexperienced receiving corps steps up and fills in the multiple gaps. Defensively they have concerns along the front 4, but are so experienced elsewhere that it won’t be a legitimate concern.

Season Outlook
The Broncos find themselves poised to be the next big thing coming from the non-BCS automatic qualifying conferences. Throw in an epic home winning streak, a talented young QB, a manageable schedule, and a conference slate that is far from tough, and Boise looks to run through 09 unblemished. Our last non-automatic qualifier is our first undefeated for 09, as the Broncos go 13-0, and receive a BCS berth. Their ability to play for national title is well out of their hands, but they will do all they can to make that an argument worth having.

One Response

  1. Games to watch! Beware of Falcon country. The Broncos will have a long way to travel and will have to face an opponent with little to lose and much to gain. I can’t believe you don’t at least mention that.

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