So much has been made of the past match up between Boise State and Georgia. Many Georgia fans look into the past, and say this is the same story we have heard before. Some connections certainly can be made, both times Boise State came into the season ranked coming off highly successful seasons just the year before. In 2005, much of the hype was surrounded around Jared Zabransky, who came into the game with a starting record of 11-1. Fast-forward to now, you find Boise State once again ranked, once again with a highly touted QB, and once again with high expectations. In part 1 of my 6 part series we look and compare the lines of 2005 & 2011.
The Defensive Line 2005: In 2005 Boise State came into the season with 3 juniors, and 1 senior starting in the trenches. Those men were, Andrew Browning (JR 6’0 278), Alex Guerrero (SR 6’1 296), Mike Dominguez (JR 6’2 251), and Mike G. Williams (JR 6’3 245). That is an average starting line weight of 267.5 lbs. This group was no doubt talented, but it was not exactly deep especially at DT. The 2 listed backups in 2005 were Dan Gore who eventually moved to the O-line and Nick Schlekeway who was a great DE but was not built for DT. As for the backups at DE, they were talented but not exactly experienced, those men were Freshman Mike T. Williams, and a man who received little playing time in Junior Tim Volk.
The Defensive Line 2011: This might be the deepest, and most talented group of defensive lineman Boise State has ever had. It comes into the season with all four starters being Seniors who have played lots of college football. Those four men are, Billy Winn (SR 6’4 300), Tyrone Crawford (SR 6’4 276), Chase Baker (SR 6’1 298), Shea McClellin (SR 6’3 255). The average weight of this starting line comes in at 282.25 lbs. That is a gain of 14.7 lbs along the starting lines since 2005. But even with that these numbers don’t tell the whole story. The backups on this line are not like in 2005, these backups have all played significant amount of time and will play major parts of the game against Georgia. Those men are Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (SO 6’3 303), Michael “Bacon” Atkinson (JR 6’0 312), Jarrell Root (SR 6’3 263), and Khayree Marshall (SO 6’1 228).
Defensive Line Conclusion: Bottom line, there is no real comparison here, the line in 2005 was not deep like this line in 2011. And as good as the 2005 group was at times, this 2011 line is very experienced very deep, and very talented. The line that arrives in Atlanta will be bigger, stronger and much faster than what Georgia faced the first time. If you compare the 2 deep depth charts the average weight gain is 15 lbs. But maybe even more telling is the fact that in 2005 we had zero men on the defensive line topping 300 lbs, in 2011 we will bring 3 in Winn, Atkinson, and Tjong-A-Jew. I expect this is the area that will surprise Georgia fans most in terms of improvement since the last time we played.
The Offensive Line 2005: In 2005, the line was anchored by Senior LT and soon to be 2nd round draft pick Daryn Colledge. This line was talented, but once again it was young with 3 Sophomores 1, 1 Senior, and 1 Junior. Those accompanying Sr. Colledge (6’5 298) were the Cavendar twins Pete (SO 6’2 289), Jeff (SO 6’2 287), Mad Tad Miller (SO 6’4 303), Joe Weigand (JR 6’1 286). When looking at this list you will notice the talent level was certainly there, it was the experience that was lacking. Average weight of 2005 starting line: 292.6 lbs.
Offensive Line 2011: This line is experienced, it also is talented with many looking at Left Tackle Nate Potter as a 1st round draft pick much like Ryan Clady before him. The 2011 offensive line brings 3 seniors, 1 junior, and 1 sophomore. All of whom come into this game with playing experience. The starting 5 are Nate Potter (SR 6’6 295), Thomas Byrd (SR 5’11 290), Joe Kellogg (JR 6’2 303), Chuck Hayes (SR 6’2 288) and Charles Leno (SO 6’3 294). This line’s average weight is, 294 lbs. Perhaps the most important part and overlooked part of this line is four year starter Thomas Byrd. Many believe he is undersized, but what he lacks in size he makes up in experience. Having a man who has seen all the blitzes before and can relay protections to the rest of your guys before the snap, is priceless.
Offensive Line Conclusion: I think talent wise you could argue that both the lines of ’05 and ’11 are very similar. Both have players who were or will be drafted. Both have pretty good size with an average difference of only +1.4 lbs in favor of the 2011 line. So if you want to compare them, I think you could, I would only caution how important experience is on the offensive line. When looking at experience there is no doubt the 2011 line comes in much more experienced than the line did in 2005. With that being said, I do believe the 2011 line has an advantage over the 2005 and you won’t see Kellen Moore under the same kind of pressure we saw Jared Zabransky under.