BTN Predictions: Week 1 vs. Washington Huskies

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The 2015 season is here and our staff predictions are back! Without further adieu here is what we see happening this week against the Huskies!

Derek – Season openers are always tough to predict – and Boise State certainly has not fared well in them the past few years.  We have not opened at home since 2009 either, so maybe that will make a difference.  This game will be filled with emotion, from the Washington’s coach homecoming to the excitement of the first game of the year.  The crowd will be electric, and there is no doubt in my mind that both teams are going to be hyped up.  The question is  – will all the hype  lead to great execution or first game jitters?  After watching all the games last night, there sure seemed to be a lot of rust being knocked off, but my hope is that Boise State does not have that.  I am going to go with a pure emotional prediction – no stats for me (sorry Tami!) – I think Boise State pulls this off with emotion alone (although I do think we have the better team).  The defense will swarm, the crowd will be the loudest of all time, and the Broncos will prevail.  Washington scores some garbage points late, Bronco O fires on all cylinders, and we even get a special teams TD.  Boise State 42 Washington 20.

Heath – I have gone back and forth on this game. One side of me says we walk away easily in this one. I don’t see an inexperienced team walking on to The Blue against this motivated, this experienced, this potentially dominating defense and winning. But the other side of me says, not to overlook Petersen & staff returning to Boise. So ultimately, I am going to go with this is closer than people think. The two coaching staffs just know each other too well for it to not be right? Our defense is going to make plays, and I think we will have some big things happen on offense. I also think though that UW is going to have some “tricks” up their sleeves and I think they will catch us a few times. So with that, I am going to say Boise State wins 28-17.

Noel – There is a reason that the Broncos have been so successful since the early 2000s.  It’s not all Chris Petersen but he has a good chunk of the credit. The thing is, part of some of Coach Pete’s success is due to the “new” guy, Coach Harsin. The first half will be a wonderful display of emotion and grit.  The second half – a butt kicking.  Broncos win 38-17.

Tami – This game is a pretty good match-up for week one, when we know nothing about any team, really. (Well, except Idaho. We knew enough about them to determine “terrible”, thankyouverymuch.) I like Noel’s optimism about the second half, but I’ll believe that the Broncos won’t falter in the third quarter when I see it consistently. The intensity tomorrow night should be off the charts both on the field and in the stands, and I’m also going to call this one close. Boise wins, 33-24.

Attack The Opponent – University Of Washington Huskies

This game has been circled on my personal calendar since the home and home was announced. That 2007 loss was brutal and difficult to watch. So was 2013. Boise State won the Vegas bowl against the Huskies in 2012, but the history doesn’t matter. Not now. These aren’t Sark’s Huskies, these aren’t Pete’s Broncos, and 2015 is a brave new world with the same old glass ceiling just waiting to be broken.

We can haz playoff, ESPN? For realsies?

There are so many angles on this game. Some are data driven – like Boise State trying to replace Jay Ajayi’s 130 yards per game on the ground. Or Grant Hedrick’s stellar 70% completion average. Some are driven by emotion. Like Pete having to come back and play here at the expense of the “awkwardness” surrounding coming to the home that is not his any longer. The fan bases are being their usual selves – UW fans touchy and sneering, BSU fans chippy and confident. Both of these are correct reactions to what little we know of these teams – UW is thin at the line, new at quarterback, good at running back and tight end. The Husky’s defense lost a lot of playmakers, and while talented, doesn’t have much experience. This team is 65% underclassmen, walking into the insanity that will be Albertsons Stadium at full emotional and physical capacity.

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE

UW has not named their quarterback. A little bit of subterfuge by Pete? Yep. It’s adorable. But as Heath, our resident gentleman and scholar put it on Twitter, “You either have one quarterback, or none.” It sure seems like they’d announce if it was the veteran, so it’s more than possible Pete will start a true frosh QB in Jake Browning. With the strength that the Huskies have at running back, expect to see a lot of Dwayne Washington trying to smash through to the second level. Once the track meet starts, he can win it. Also look for a lot of little passes over the middle to the tight ends and the occasional attempt to exploit the size difference on the outside between the Bronco DB’s and Washington’s big 6’5 WR Brayden Lenius.

Boise State, on the other hand, could be deeper than we are used to. Ryan Finley has been appointed QB, with his only real game experience coming during the meltdown at Air Force last season. The only thing I remember about his play is that he made a mistake, didn’t get rattled, and finished a drive well. That is enough. If the coaches think Ryan is the guy, then he’s obviously the most prepared and ready. However, there are 3 gentlemen behind him on the depth chart. It’s Utah State levels of embarrassment of riches at that position. Jeremy McNichols, with his mastery of the edge, will get the start at running back. Even though he was only responsible for 314 yards last season, they were always entertaining ones. The WR corps is probably the most interesting unit on offense. Thomas Sperbeck, the guy that totally embodies the Boise State “Next Man Up” mentality, is back. Chaz Anderson has an entire season under him on that side of the ball, and will be dangerous. Shane Williams-Rhodes brings not only his amazingly entertaining brand of football, but senior leadership to a group that is deep and more athletic than Boise has had out there for a while. It was so good to see the return of the tight end last year, and will be even better to see if Jake Roh and the rest of that group get the breakout season that they have been working towards.

Coach K and the new look 3-4 UW defense are a question mark. Yes, Budda Baker will still be roaming the defensive backfield (and probably some offense and a lot of special teams), but when the defensive line is 6 of 7 dudes who have never started a college football game, there’s going to be growing pains. So this is where I think the difference is going to be in this game – the trenches. UW’s defense just won’t get to rattle Finley, leaving the entire playbook open for Coach Drink’s offense to make come to life.

Despite what Coach Yates has tried to convince us, Boise State’s defense is going to be outright dangerous this season. The DL rolls three deep in upperclassmen. The linebacker corps is just as real. UW is going to have to establish the run and a short passing game against an experienced, much better conditioned than in the past Boise State defense that theoretically should be creating unparalleled havoc. Hell, the only spot where they’re sort of young is at cornerback, and thats only because underclassmen are backing up Donte Deayon and Jonathan Moxey, who could both be playing on Sundays in the near-ish future.

Everyone on both sides has acknowledged that this game is meaningful. Pete calls it awkward, and Hars radiates excitement. To the players, none of this should matter as soon as the ball is kicked, but it totally will because they are human just like the rest of us. Logical me knows that its college football and that anything can happen. UW could win this game. That’s a thing that is possible out of all the possibilities. But fan me is screaming that they can’t. Pete can’t just walk back into this stadium with a team that’s over half underclassmen and expect to win against the kids he recruited and then left, right? We all know that Harsin is the best thing that happened to this program since the floppy haired kid who said “neat” a lot took off for Lionyer pastures. That’s not in question. Pete left at the right time. But it didn’t make it hurt less. I remember how it felt to wake up to my phone blowing up with the news and the way my heart sank. I remember traveling back across the country – sitting drunk and heartbroken in a restaurant in the Denver airport, trying to stay interested in coaching rumors and failing because all I could think about was how stunned I was that he picked that program, out of every one that had come calling. Who turns down Stanford and USC but takes the dumpster fire in Seattle? I could’ve understood leaving for Cali, to a high profile, pretty job. It’s like getting spurned for a super model. Ouchy, but understandable. But this? <expletive> him. <expletive> walking back in this stadium in purple and gold. Gotta pay for that one. In a very public way.

The eyes of the college football world are going to be upon Boise on Friday night. The storylines are compelling, the teams are fairly well matched, and for one evening, the greatest show on earth might just be going on our very own Blue Turf. Who is going to play the hero? Which young QB is going to take the first step onto the path of the greats before them? Will the protégé claim victory over the master? Will the Huskies ever be able to convert third down with the throngs of screaming Bronco fans making our presence exceedingly known? Will the Broncos be able to match #DatPacSpeed? Only one way to find out. After years of anticipation, months of analysis and talk, hype and controversy, its finally time for Boise State to start what just might be the most special of all the seasons in the most special place of all…

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Home.

THE SEASON IS ALMOST HERE!

Every off season feels like the longest one ever, but 2015 has been crazy.

Boise State didn’t go away last season, like some thought they would. In a shocking plot twist, the Broncos went 11 – 2 and won the Fiesta Bowl after Chris Petersen left for purpler pastures. Nationally, apparently some people are stunned. Boise State was supposed to sit down, shut up, lose 5+ games again, and fade into the obscurity of the Mountain West during the power conference era, when the haves widened the gap and left all the have-nots, out.

Except that isn’t what happened. It’s been an eventful 2015 so far, and Boise State appears to be keeping up. Yes, it’s with a much smaller margin of error, but this program is in battles (and winning some!) for recruits that wouldn’t have even returned a call three years ago. Cost of Attendance is handled, the content coming out of the football complex is much more polished than at any time before, and Bronco Nation is chomping at the bit for the biggest OOC game on The Blue since Oregon came for their eventful visit in 2009. Fall camp is in full swing, the stadium banners have been unveiled, Hars has taken a pie to the face, Yates has chastised everyone for talking up the defense, and we’re under a month to go until the start of something that could be really special.

Mystique is totally a thing still, Rocky. Whether you want it to be or not.

This is the best and worst time of year. The anticipation is intoxicating. Every team is 0-0 and hope is easy to come by. Go on the Internet and almost every fan base is being insufferable. Utah State is coming for Boise State, just like they are every season. With their 78 77 76 75 74 73 72 returning starters and one of them being perpetual Heisman candidate until that knee happens, Chuckie Keeton, well why wouldn’t the Broncos be running scared? Washington might be in trouble as far as skill positions, but they’re still in the Pac 12 and that automatically spots them two touchdowns and a few friendly calls from the officials. BYU’s fan base is secretly checking every interesting looking rock in Utah County for a prophecy to translate and convince the Coaches Poll voters to put them in the next top 25. Even Bronco Twitter is in on the action, making it a life goal to get blocked by Nevada’s resident humorless corndog connoisseur and the coach of the Wolf Pack, Brian Polian. Once he called us out during Media Days, he had to know he was flipping that troll switch, right?

Can’t forget the realignment rumors flowing as sure as the rivers of smack. The Big 12 is the destination this time, and as fun as the speculation is, it’s still a long shot for the Broncos to move out of the MWC anytime soon. Still, the idea of the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming out of Austin and Norman is incredibly soothing in this run up to kickoff.

Not quite as soothing as cuddling up with your best equine buddy in the living room, though.

What we know for sure right now isn’t much. We know the Broncos return a lot of experience and depth in every position but QB, RB, and CB, and the options there are solid if unproven. We know that the coaching staff didn’t have much of a drop off, even with losing former OC Mike Sanford to Notre Dame over the offseason. Harsin seems stunned when anyone asks about the transition, like its nuts to expect anything other than awesome out of Coach Drink. We know that Boise’s OOC schedule might just be enough to carry them into the playoff if the MWC shocks the world a couple times and doesn’t lose a bunch of games they shouldn’t.

The possibilities and questions are endless. We’ll spend the next few weeks thinking over the alternatives and talking about position battles and pouring over practice reports and player interviews trying to get a bit more understanding. All of it in a pointless attempt to predict the future performances of a bunch of young men that hold their own destiny, thankyouverymuch. We’re just along for the ride.

 

A Simple Fan Prediction – Wins & Loses

www.sltrib.com

www.sltrib.com

Let me first off start by saying how odd of a season I feel like this is. When you look at 4 of the first 6 games you have some really compelling matchups. After that though, outside of Air Force, it will be really tough to see Bronco fans interested in the outcomes of the remaining schedule. That being said, I really wish the schedule would have been reversed and we finished with the first 6 games and didn’t start with them. My biggest concern here is following Washington with a game at BYU. The emotion of playing Washington is going to be very real and I can foresee a big win here despite breaking in a new QB and RB. After that though, I have a bad feeling our new QB whoever he is (Ryan Finley), is going to have a tough time going into BYU and getting a win. BYU has some questions on defense, but this game is early enough where Taysom Hill should be healthy, and it is the home opener for BYU. Even in my most optimistic approach to the season, I don’t see us leaving Provo with a win.

Here is how I see the season going for Boise State right now. (Subject to change depending on how fall camp plays outs).

  • Boise State vs Washington – Win
  • Boise State @ BYU – Lose
  • Boise State vs Idaho State – Win
  • Boise State @ Virginia – Win
  • Boise State vs Hawaii – Win
  • Boise State @ Colorado State – Win
  • Boise State @ Utah State – Win
  • Boise State vs Wyoming – Win
  • Boise State @ UNLV – Win
  • Boise State vs New Mexico – Win
  • Boise State vs Air Force – Win
  • Boise State @ San Jose State – Win
  • MWC Championship – Win
Record – 12-1

 

 

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?!