Bronco Fans, I am going to take an in-depth look at Boise State’s offense and give my prediction for how I think they will fair in different categories on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. I will look at things on the offense such as turnovers, passing yards, rushing yards, etc., give you my prediction, and then an explanation for why I think what I do. I also wanted to give predictions on how I think each game this season will go for the Broncos, from the season opener at Louisiana Lafeyette to the last game in Colorado Springs against Air Force. Enjoy!
Looking back Brett Rypien had 8 interceptions last year. 6 of those 8 came in two games (3 against Utah State and 3 against New Mexico). So in the 9 other games that Brett played, he only threw the ball away twice. The Broncos also turned the ball over a baffling 8 times in that game against the Utah State aggies. So without tumultuous games like those two Boise State had last season, I feel they will better protect the football. Also in the first two games of the season, Ryan Finley turned the ball over 4 times. With Brett being a more accurate passer I believe this turnover number will be lower. If you aren’t sure how accurate Rypien is – check out this video! Jeremy McNichols is also very good at securing the football, so there are no worries about him carrying the pigskin all next season.
Passing yards last season (4032): More this season
With Brett Rypien starting every game this season I predict Boise State will have more passing yards this upcoming season. With weapons such as Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson, as well as many rising stars there won’t be a shortage of players getting receiving yards. Having Bryan Harsin calling the plays as well, you know he will be utilizing Rypien much like he did with Kellen Moore – passing to many different targets. Last season the Broncos had 4032 passing yards, with 3353 of those coming from Brett. Expect that number to rise as Rypien gets more comfortable in the pocket and other receivers get open as defenses have to double-team Sperbeck.
Rushing yards last season (2488): Less
Jeremy McNichols ran for 1337 yards last season and I see him running for about the same amount of yards this season. The one game that McNichols sat out due to injury was when the Broncos had one of their worst defeats in recent history at Utah State. Due to his absence, this forced Brett to put the ball in the air and Utah State knew this and capititalized on it (Boise State only mustered out 34 total rushing yards in the game!) – of course keep in mind that accounts for loss of yards on sacks too. Due to the importance of having McNichols balance out BSU’s offense, Harsin can’t play him too much to risk injury and will utilize him enough to win football games but he won’t be breaking any yardage records. I predict you will see his numbers go down as he is so vital and last season McNichols was almost literally our entire offense vs Washington, BYU last season (against Washington and BYU he accounted for all of the touchdowns).
Touchdowns (60): More
Boise State scored 16 and 24 points in their first two games. And then Brett Rypien took over, scoring more than 50 points 6 times last season. The only other game they went below 30 points was of course the infamous Utah State fluke game. With “McWeapon” and Sperbeck doing very hot with no thought of looking back, the Broncos are on their way to score more touchdowns this upcoming season behind the play-calling of Harsin and the hot hand of Brett Rypien. Red-zone efficiency will improve as well which will add to their touchdown number.
Turnovers (31): Less
It is a sad day for us Bronco fans to be parting with the ball-hawking Darian Thompson who set the Mountain West record for career interceptions (19), who will now be adding INTs to NFL quarterback’s records for the NY Giants. Not only did we lose on ball-hawk but we lost Donte Deayon as well who had an impressive 17 interceptions, who joins his teammate on the Giants. That being said, I predict BSU’s young secondary will not be getting as many INTs this upcoming season. Also in a season or two I see Boise State getting right back to it’s ball-hawking ways.
Sacks (32): Less
Losing stud Kamalei Correa to the NFL and other players like Tyler Gray, Armand Nance, and Justin Taimatuia will show up on the stat sheet when they aren’t as able to get to the opposing team’s quarterback. The Broncos had 32 total sacks in 2015. Correa and Gray led the team last season in sacks with 7 and 4 respectively. Nance had 3.5 and “JT” Taimatuia 2, both who have now graduated. These losses I believe will hit the defensive side of the ball significantly and I predict less sacks in 2016.
Losses at home: Less (none)
It goes without saying that the Broncos biggest question mark is their defense coming into the 2016-2017 season because of key players moving on. But I do believe they will improve in certain areas such as stopping the triple option, preventing another Mangum disaster, and I predict they will protect the blue this season. Losing as many games away as they did at home last season is unlike the Broncos and they will bounce back next season. Losing in back to back weeks at home hasn’t happened since 1989 according to Idaho Statesman. Let’s hope it’s another 26 years before anything like that happens again (maybe Boise State will be in a P5 conference by then).
2016 Game-by-Game predictions:
@ Louisiana Lafayette: (W) Boise State will be very prepared for their season opener, and will win handily. Their only struggles will be working on their D-line depth, and stopping RB Elijah McGuire who ran for over 1000 yds last season.
Washington State: (W) The Broncos will be once again very prepared and it will be an offensive shootout. WSU struggled a bit in defense last season, 94th in the country allowing 423 yards a game on average. Luke Falk who was 5th in offensive yards last season (4561) will test a young secondary for BSU but the home-field advantage and Brett Rypien will be too much for the Cougars. It will be a close game nonetheless, the closest of the season.
@ Oregon State: (W) Interesting Note: The Idaho Vandals allowed 486 yards a game, and the Beavers allowed 482, only slightly better than a team that was just moved to FCS play. That being said, I don’t feel like the Broncos can slip up against a team who struggles so mightily on defense. Brett Rypien will come out firing and this game won’t be as close as the 2010 game and will be revenge for BSU losing to them in the Hawaii Bowl in 2013.
Utah State: (W) With key losses for Utah State to their defense (Vigil and Fackrell), a healthy McNichols in the backfield for Boise, and a game on the blue gives Boise State the edge they need to beat the team that gave them so many problems last season. Boise State beats the Aggies by at least two touchdowns.
@ New Mexico: (W) Brett Rypien and his offense do a much better job securing the football and have an offensive shootout similar to the 60-49 win over the Lobos in 2014. Triple option still gives secondary problems but linebackers are difference maker in helping Boise State win.
Colorado State: (W) Boise State continues winning as they put on an impressive win against the Colorado State rams at home. BSU’s biggest weakness shows itself again as the Rams pass the ball fairly effectively.
BYU: (W) After some grueling football games, BYU’s Taysom Hill is able to get some yards with his scrambling, running but ultimately it’s Mangum’s passing that is more effective against the Broncos. Boise State wins a close one by a touchdown. Defensive play is key to win.
@ Wyoming: (W) Broncos get back to their normal play and blow out Wyoming in Laramie. Defense holds Wyoming in the passing game but struggle to contain RB Brian Hill and their losses at D-line expose themselves with young players.
San Jose State: (W) McNichols and Rypien pour it on in a home game against SJSU beating them by 3+ scores.
@ Hawaii: (W) Hawaii doesn’t get blown out quite like last season but it doesn’t end much better for the Warriors as Brett Rypien and his offense blow them away. BSU’s secondary gives up more passing yds than the past two games.
UNLV: (W) Getting back on the blue, Boise State reminds UNLV they are not last year’s team as the offense embarrasses UNLV’s secondary. Bronco defense gives up a score or two.
@ Air Force: (W) Topping off the regular season, Boise State goes out with a bang beating the team who has bested them the past two years. It is a hard fought battle in Colorado Springs but despite slip-ups against the option, Boise State has too many weapons on offense to be stopped. Win by two or more scores
I know it’s crazy to predict an undefeated season but I don’t see much of a chance of Boise State losing, maybe slipping up against BYU or Washington State but they will be fighting to be the #1 G5 team and have the best chance of a major bowl game. Boise State has shown it bounces back from bad seasons with amazing seasons (the season before the 2007 Fiesta Bowl won their record was 9-4, and 8-5 the year before they beat Arizona in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl) and they will do it again.
Side note: Those on twitter predict the team with the best chance to upset the Bronco’s perfect season would be Washington State.
Prediction: 12-0 in regular season play, go to MWC championship against San Diego State and play in a major BCS bowl like the Peach Bowl. Go Broncos!
Stat source: espn.go.com, cfbstats.com