Attack The Opponent: Boise State Broncos (Spring Game Edition)

To start, if you have not yet seen the latest video out of the football complex, please watch it now. In fact, if you have seen it, watch it again until you have it memorized because it is one of the best illustrations of the whole “what it is to be a Bronco” concept that has ever been. Anybody else think Hars has a future in voiceover work if this whole football thing ever gets old for him?

After an offseason rife with controversy (both the position battles as well as a little of the, uh, off field kind), it’s nice to have a day with real football in the long drought after March Madness ends.  Yeah, there will be some interesting stuff going on in the interim, but time itself is marching toward the biggest season opener since some short lefty kid from BFE, Washington went to Eugene and took down the mighty Ducks.

Attempting to analyze the spring game as an indicator of where a team will be in 4 months is a little like trying to project out what a child will be like as an adult by tearing apart every detail of how they play in the yard as a toddler. However, since this is football and there’s nothing else to do between now and The Beginning, we’re going to do just that.

There are two questions that will be argued about all summer long, no matter what happens today. Who is going to carry the offense, and will the team be ready to play UW next fall and win? Because everybody knows that while yes we will keep cheering and showing up whether the Broncos win that game or not….we’re really going to need them to step up and win that game. For themselves, their program, and Bronco Nation as a whole.

Boise State didn’t lose a whole lot of seniors last year, but the gaps that they have left are looming large. The QB position is loaded, but at this point, nobody really knows what’s going to happen. We need to look at not only throwing and footwork mechanics, but also understanding of the offense as well as the speed of making the reads. At RB, while The Weapon himself, Jeremy McNichols won’t be out there today, we should be watching for which guys have that vision and patience that set great BSU running backs apart. The Broncos need to find their workhorse, and while depth shouldn’t be an issue at that position, it would be nice to not have to RB by committee all the time.

It would be nice to see some progression on the lines, both sides of the ball. Last year they were talented and strong, but it’s going to take stepping up to exceptional to make the playoff dream even part of the discussion. On offense, there is a lot returning. 5 OL are back this season, with two more around who saw significant playing time last season. These were the guys that made Jay Ajayi a star, and now to be able to come in with experience and depth, well, the new RB and QB will be very lucky, well protected and well blocked for guys. Defensively, losing a guy like Beau Martin would normally be very difficult to do. However, BSU is basically sitting on a gold mine of experienced leadership on the line, rolling 2-3 deep at every position. This defense will be the envy of the Mountain West for sure, and could easily make national noise.

The receivers and TE’s also will be fun to watch today. Getting to see what Chase Blakely and David Lucero are working with will be good. I’m looking to see that they have a handle on the playbook and also try to get an idea of what role the TE’s will have this season. It was nice to see them back last year, but it felt like they could’ve been utilized a bit more. Jake Roh and his awesome hands are returning, and Holden Huff has a great opportunity to step up and be a leader right now in this young and potentially epic group. On the receivers side, there are a billion questions. Based on last season, Sperbeck and Anderson are the fire, but leadership is important. Gotta get those spark type plays from Shane Williams-Rhodes. There is depth at WR, but not much experience. There is more speed on the way as well. Highly touted recruits Akilian Butler and Bryan Jefferson will be arriving this fall, but spring is about the guys on campus.

Remember what it was like to have depth on defense, with amazing returning talent, some up and comers with something to prove, and the knowledge that There Will Be Shut Down Defense Played By Boise? 2006-2011 were pretty good times. The noise out of the complex is sounding a bit like a renaissance. Deayon, Moxie, Maston, and Thompson are all back. So is college-football acclimated Dylan Sumner-Gardner.

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Tyler Rausa has been appointed the Broncos new kicker. You only get one chance at a good first impression, bro. Don’t shank it wide left on your first time out in front of the crowd and all will be well.

This spring game is unlike any we’ve seen. First, we will be celebrating the career of one of the greatest Broncos ever or ever will be, Kellen Moore. The university has already confirmed that the ol’ #11 won’t be retired, but are also saying that nobody will be wearing it for a good, long time. Kellen is building himself a career in the NFL, looking to be the #2 QB after re-signing with Detroit this spring. We at the BTN are still beating the JUST PLAY HIM ALREADY drum, but Kellen is obviously a much more patient person than we are and is willing to play the long game. It will be good for Bronco Nation to see him today, and help celebrate a wonderful college career.

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After the game, BSU has invited 2007 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks to perform a concert on The Blue as part of their Bronco Day celebration. Fans will be allowed on the field, and it’s at least a unique opportunity to watch a pop concert on the turf. Hey, if Jordin’s excited about it, why not?!

Fiesta Bowl Legacy – In Photos

We are lucky as fans, we have seen 3 of the best Fiesta Bowls any fan base could hope for. Not to mention, we have won all 3 of them. Here are pictures from each game to relive these historic moments.

QB Fiesta Legacy

2007: Zabransky 2010: Moore 2014: Hedrick

Legacy RB Fiesta

2007: Johnson 2010: Martin 2014: Ajayi

WR Fiesta Legacy

2007: James 2010: Young 2014: Sperbeck

DB legacy Fiesta

2007: Tadman 2010: Thompson 2014: Deayon

Coach Fiesta Legacy

2007 & 2010: Petersen 2014: Harsin

Celebration Fiesta Legacy

Why This One Was Special – The Coaches Bleed Blue

635523439815040361-USP-NCAA-FOOTBALL-BOISE-STATE-AT-WYOMING-68949140Take out the records, take out the stats, take out the implications for the program. Seriously take all of those things out, and this one is still special. Perhaps even more so than the previous two Fiesta Bowl wins. Before this season however I would have never even thought that possible. Then, I rushed the field, I heard Harsin speak after winning the MWC Championship game, and it all started to line up. This season really meant everything to this program. And maybe to the outside world this is just another bowl game, another moment Boise State upset the big boys. But when you listened to Bryan Harsin on the mic after winning another Fiesta Bowl, you knew this one was special for a lot of different reasons. This game keeps Boise State relevant yes, it keeps Boise State in the discussions for all those important topics like expansion, and playoffs. But more than that, this was a win by a bunch of guys and coaches who truly “bleed blue”.

After the game was over on TV, I quickly went to my car to listen to the post game show. I am glad I did, because everything I was starting to believe about this game, this win, was solidified when Mike Sanford was interviewed by Bob Behler. The emotion that ran throughAnne-Marie-Sanford-2014-3-425x425 his words was palpable, his tears of joy noticeable, even on the radio. He stated it made him proud to sing HIS fight song, to represent the school that “made him a man”. It was these words, this emotion, this understanding that very well might have saved a program. These coaches instilled the values that make Boise State special. From day 1, this coaching staff knew that to be a Bronco, you have to work hard, have that blue collar mentality, and earn everything that is presented to you. This is a program that has continued to rise despite all the odds, and this game, this season was no different. That is why this game was so pivotal, why this win matters so much, why these coaches are so important, and why this Fiesta Bowl win is so special.

Congratulations players, coaches, and Bronco Nation! Have a Happy New Year, and enjoy the win!

Attack The Opponent: Arizona Wildcats (Fiesta Edition)

Hey, remember that time that Boise State got invited to their third Fiesta Bowl vs. Arizona? Yeah, that was pretty neat. Congratulations! You know the entire history of BSU and UA playing football against each other!

Just because these two teams have never played, does not mean there are no common threads. Former Boise State DL Jeff Worthy is now starting for the Wildcats, after a year of community college after being dismissed from the Broncos squad by Chris Petersen in early 2013. Jared Tevis, younger brother of Boise State standout linebacker Aaron Tevis is currently a linebacker at Arizona. One of Arizona’s best wide receivers, Cayleb Jones, played for Coach Harsin during his time at Texas. Both teams run a wild, fun to watch, prolific offense. Both teams are capable of playing shut down defense. Both teams have quarterbacks capable of moving with the ball, and defensive players who can change a game with a well-timed pick.

The Fiesta Bowl has been good to Boise State in the past, but this game feels like a weird match-up. The only other team we’ve played that runs a 3-3-5 defense is San Diego State, and after a couple of years of losing to the Aztecs, turned it around this season to put 399 yards and 5 TD’s on them. SDSU is not as big or fast as Arizona.

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The one common opponent the Wildcats and the Broncos share is Nevada. Arizona held the Wolf Pack to 28 points and put up 507 yards of offense in the third week, while Boise State allowed 46 points but rolled up 570 yards of offense in their week 6 win. The Wildcats might be an 11-2 Pac 12 team that was only second to Oregon, but they are beatable. Their red shirt freshman QB, Anu Solomon has been fighting a foot/ankle sprain for the last couple months, and its easy to see that their offensive production has fallen off some in that time.

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The best bet for Boise State is for Coach Caldwell’s boys on the D-Line to pull an ’07 and smash Arizona’s bigger offensive line in the teeth until they can get through to really bother Solomon in to passing the ball. His completion percentage is 58% on the season, and if he isn’t more accurate than that in this bowl, Boise States DB’s will have themselves a field day, complete with a track meet to the end zone after getting some picks.

Arizona’s run game has been inconsistent at best, but is capable of putting up serious numbers against questionable run defenses. The Broncos have had issues stopping the run, especially anything option-related. Arizona’s offense definitely is option-y, along with having no-huddle speed. This could be a problem.

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What do Ole Miss, CSU, Air Force, New Mexico, and Fresno have in common? Strong rush games. Air Force and New Mexico run a traditional option attack and both pushed Boise State to the edge and beyond. Forcing Arizona to take to the air or putting on a run defense show unlike anything we’ve seen since the first 4 games of the season is an absolute must for the Broncos to win this Fiesta.

Solid special teams play, limiting turnovers, all of those things apply to both squads. The Cats do turn the ball over less overall, they also didn’t have a 7 TO debacle as an outlier that’s messing up the average. They are more heavily penalized than the Broncos though, averaging 63 ypg in penalties over Boise’s 56. Basically, the little stuff is a draw.

On offense, Boise State needs to just stay consistent. They did not have a good second half vs. Fresno in the MWC championship game, which made a lot of people (including me) very nervous going in to bowl selection weekend. The champ game was the worst yardage performance by the Bronco offense since UConn.

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The conspiracy theory is nice though. You know, the one Bronco Nation has consoled themselves with for weeks – that Hars and Sanford closed the playbook as to not give our bowl opponent anything. It couldn’t be Boise’s offensive line giving their best imitation of a pasta strainer and allowing Fresnah’s d to stop the run at the line over and over and over and over… nope! That definitely wasn’t it.

The upcoming game is not going to be like the MWC championship game. It won’t be like Ole Miss either. Arizona might be the bigger, faster, Power 5 blah blah team, but got stomped the last time they set foot on a football field. Boise State has done nothing but win since October 4th. Taking a butt kicking from Oregon after beating them the first time and then having a month to think about it has to be rough. Of course, it could also be said that the Broncos cruised through an undemanding MWC schedule and is about to get a rude awakening at the hands of the Cats. The same thing we heard in 07, and again in 2010. Those games turned out okay.

Let’s be real here for a second. This time last year, we figured we’d be lucky to win 8 games again. The guys have not put together a perfect season. What they have done is re-established Bronco football as a program that still can’t be overlooked by any team, regardless of conference affiliation. Boise State is playing a tough opponent in Arizona, one that doesn’t match up all that well. However, the Broncos are motivated, and ready to give the Wildcats everything they’ve got. I couldn’t be more happy, or more proud of what those guys have done. Now it’s time to finish this. #1more.

It’s Fiesta Time!

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Stream of Consciousness – Thoughts Before the Fiesta

Photo courtesy Boise State

Photo courtesy Boise State

  • This idea that Boise State isn’t as good as Bronco teams in the past is frustrating. Even if you agree with the statement, Arizona is not as good as Oklahoma (Big-12 champion), or TCU (Undefeated 12-0 MWC champion), was in the past either. This idea that there is a major talent gap between these teams is lazy narrative and should stop.
  • I really can’t wait to see what our coaching staff has in store for this game. In the first Fiesta, we saw a barrage of tricks. In the 2nd Fiesta Bowl, we saw a whole new look defense for TCU. I just get a feeling our staff is going to have something fun planned for us all.
  • Saying goodbye to the “J-Train” is not going to be easy, but I can’t think of a better way to do it. The Fiesta Bowl is special to us fans for good reason. I really hope we see a fitting departure for Jay Ajayi.
  • I can’t help but wonder who is going to be the star of the game? Is Kamalei going to go off? Is Hedrick going to cap off an incredible comeback season? Or will Jay Ajayi just run his way into the NFL? Somebody is going to have a major impact in this game and I can’t wait to see who it is.
  • How will the fans show up? I was lucky enough to attend the last Fiesta Bowl and I was blown away by our fan turnout. We owned the stadium, and it was so much fun to be apart of. I hope this Fiesta Bowl is no different.
  • If we win, who will propose? Sounds crazy, but that is our tradition as well. First it was Ian Johnson, then it was Michal Ames, one to a cheerleader, the other to a dancer. If we win, somebody needs to be prepared to step up :-)!
    boise-stateMichael Ames, Tess Tracy

 

  • I wonder if anybody wants to put an over/under on the amount of times the announcers use the words “trick-plays” when talking about Boise State? I guess I will go with 6.5 times?
  • I always look at Shane Williams-Rhodes like a stick of dynamite. He is always my X-factor for every game and I can’t help but think he makes a big play in this game. I am actually shocked we haven’t seen him in motion more getting the hand-off for the sweep to the outside.
  • Donte Deayon, will he be break gravity again in this game?
  • I believe Chaz Anderson in this game will solidify himself as a legit target for future seasons for the Broncos.
  • I also believe there will be a moment in this game where we look at McNichols after a play and say, “That guy is our future, no doubt about it”.
  • Lastly, I have an anxious feeling about this game, Arizona does pose some problems for Boise State. I really hate facing another 3-5-5 defense and I hope Grant has figured it out by now. But mobile QB’s in a spread system with a defense that has given us trouble, makes me cringe. If we win, I expect, just like the past two Fiesta Bowls for this game to keep fans on the edge of their seats. We are getting close Bronco Nation, buckle up, the ride is about to get fun!