Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 4:08 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Boise State , who opens spring camp next Monday, March 7.
Spring Practice Question: Who'll become the Broncos' new playmakers on the edge?
The conventional wisdom was that 2010 was Boise State's now-or-never moment where the national championship was concerned, their make-or-break campaign as a legitimate BCS title contender. The Broncos lost just four seniors from their undefeated 2009 squad, had the prerequisite preseason poll positioning, got the legitimizing road win at Virginia Tech ... this was supposed to be their one big chance, and Kyle Brotzman blew it all in Reno.
So it's almost shocking to look over the Broncos' depth chart and realize how much talent they still have at their disposal. There's Kellen Moore, of course, but there's also 1,260-yard rusher Doug Martin, first-team All-WAC offensive linemen Thomas Byrd and Nate Potter, their team leaders in sacks (end Shea McClellin) and tackles-for-loss (opposite end Tyrone Crawford), first-team All-WAC safety George Iloka ... all in all, the Broncos have a healthy seven starters returning on both sides of the ball, many of them among the nation's best at their positions. And, most important of all, Chris Petersen is still in Boise, too. 2010 was a great opportunity, no doubt, but it's far from time to start writing the Broncos' obituary as a nationally-relevant college football team.
But that doesn't mean there aren't holes to fill, and as it turns out, nearly all of them are on the edges of the field. Start on offense, where both of the Broncos' bookend deep threats at wide receiver -- Austin Pettis and Titus Young -- are moving on to the NFL. Their primary replacement will likely be senior Tyler Shoemaker, a capable veteran who averaged an impressive 18 yards per-reception in 2010. But behind him, pickings are slim; the only other wideout with more than 8 receptions last season was redshirt freshman Geraldo Hiwat, a converted track star originally from the Netherlands who finished with 11. Hiwat has prototypical size (6'4") and speed, but is still learning the game. If he and the rest of the non-Shoemaker receiving corps can't keep defenses from blanketing Shoemaker, Boise's typically wide-open attack could find the field unusually compressed.
On defense, the Broncos must find replacements for arguably their two best defenders in end Ryan Winterswyk and linebacker/safety hybrid Winston Venable. Though Winterswyk rarely made a large impact on the stat sheet (with just 1.5 sacks in 2010), he did a terrific job of holding the edge against opposing running games--a big reason the Broncos finished the season ranked seventh in the nation in rush defense. Venable was a first-team All-WAC player who made plays all over the field, including in the backfield, where he totaled 9.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 sacks. No other player outside of the defensive line came close to those numbers.
So Boise's absorbed big losses both in terms of their ability to hold up against the run on the outside and to attack the backfield from there. There's players who can take up much of that slack -- McClellin, Iloka, Crawford, and memorable LeGarrette Blount- goader Byron Hout chief among them -- but at Boise, top-shelf athletes who can dominate on the edges just by taking the field are hard to come by. (It won't help that corner Brandyn Thompson and All-WAC safety Jeron Johnson have also moved on). The first question Petersen will have to answer this spring is who on defense will prevent the Broncos from giving their opponents a leg up on the outside ... and what receivers might give them that same leg up on the other side of the ball.
Tags: Austin Pettus, Boise State, Brandyn Thompson, Byron Hout, Chris Petersen, Doug Martin, George Iloka, Geraldo Hiwat, Jeron Johnson, Kellen Moore, Kyle Brotzman, LeGarrette Blount, Mountain West, Nate Potter, NL, Ryan Winterswyk, Shea McClellin, Spring Practice Primer, Spring Previews, Thomas Byrd, Titus Young, Tyler Shoemaker, Tyrone Crawford, Virginia Tech, WAC, Winston Venable
Posted on: December 21, 2010 12:34 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Why to Watch: This is a no-brainer. We've got a Top-20 matchup between two teams that had spent time in the Top 5 late in the season, both of whom can put points up in bunches. Boise State has a lot to prove after seeing its BCS dreams fly wide of the uprights at Nevada, and what would be a better sendoff for Utah as it heads to the Pac-10 than to knock off a powerhouse like Boise?
Keys to victory for Boise State: It seems like this game would be a cakewalk for Boise State, and it might well be one at the end of the day, but one of the uncomfortable truths about the Broncos is that they don't exactly show up for bowl games on a consistent basis. They're 6-4 in bowl games, and those losses have come against some unspectacular competition: 11-1 Louisville , 9-3 Boston College , 8-5 East Carolina , and 11-2 TCU. Oh sure, Boise has also taken out an undefeated TCU and a loaded Oklahoma squad in that unforgettable 2007 Fiesta Bowl, but by and large the overall resume isn't that impressive -- especially when Boise's not playing on the home Smurf Turf in the Humanitarian Bowl. In fact, every bowl the Broncos have ever played away from Boise has been decided by seven points or less.
So with a feisty Utah squad facing it, Boise State needs to jump out early and bury the Utes. Kellen Moore has no shortage of weapons to make that happen, of course; Titus Young and Austin Pettis have been making cornerbacks look silly all season long, and Boise's troika of tailbacks gives the Broncos the ability to grind out touchdowns or take a simple halfback counter to the house.
Keys to victory for Utah: Everything that happened against TCU and Notre Dame? Yeah, Utah's going to need the opposite of that. Utah's two losses on the season were both disastrous blowouts, dropping a 47-7 home game to the Horned Frogs, then following it up with a 28-3 drubbing in South Bend that didn't even seem all that close. That's the type of collapse that can send a team reeling, but the Utes managed to win their last two games against bowl teams San Diego State and BYU -- both games where the Utes mounted double-digit fourth quarter comebacks. Which is to say, the fight's still there, and Utah's going to need it yet again in this bowl.
If the Utes want to stay in position to compete for all 60 minutes, they won't be able to do it by winning a shooting match with the Broncos. Boise's defense is too good for that, and Jordan Wynn isn't a good enough quarterback to hang 30 points on the Broncos yet. Therefore, Utah's going to need to at least slow down the Bronco attack, which is a lot easier said than done. Young and Pettis should be early deep targets, and Kellen Moore's deadly accuracy off play action means that simply staying with a seven-man front isn't going to be enough to neutralize the Boise passing game. Still, Utah's rush defense has been solid all season long, and if the Utes commit to taking away the pass (as best as one team can against Moore, anyway), the score should stay low enough that Utah could potentially make a game of it. Boise State's aforementioned habit of keeping bowl games close ought to work in Utah's favor. Or maybe Boise State's just overdue for a blowout. Time to see.
The Las Vegas Bowl is like: Vegas, baby. An entertaining, high-powered bowl with elite performers in the middle of the first week of bowl season is about as likely as an entertaining, high-powered city with elite performers in the middle of the desert in the Southwest. Of course, Las Vegas features gambling and we'd rather you didn't gamble on this bowl game -- just let the kids play ball, y'know? -- but there's no such thing as a perfect analogy so let's just let that detail slide and enjoy the game for what it is: the best December bowl of the season.
Posted on: November 27, 2010 3:12 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
So, Boise State lost at Nevada tonight, after leading 24-7 in the third quarter and 31-24 with under 5:00 to play. Did you watch? Please tell us you watched. While Nevada's comeback against the vaunted Boise defense was certainly startling, and the Kellen Moore bomb to Titus Young with 0:01 left to set up a game-winning field goal was one of the greatest plays of the year, all anybody will be talking about tomorrow will be the 26-yard field goal that Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed(?) in regulation that sent the game into overtime.
Here's the video of the kick, which from the end zone angle looked so good that ESPN momentarily gave the points to Boise State on the bottom ticker:
Now, immediately after the kick, many viewers thought the kick was good, and wondered why there weren't any referees under the goalposts -- it's hard to see any signals coming from the usual spot, right? Blame the camera angle and fans, though; as the picture to the right shows, the referees were there, just completely obscured from the televised angle until well after the kick (which, annoying as it may be to viewers, doesn't prove that the referees weren't in correct position at all).
As to whether the kick was good or not, that's plainly impossible to tell from the end zone angle there -- the ball "crosses" (relative to the camera's angle) the upright when its path is above it, so anybody who declares an answer one way or the other based on that footage is just a self-sure speculator, and lord knows the world doesn't need more of those. For what it's worth, I thought it was good when I first saw the kick. I also know there's a reason referees don't use that camera angle.
More to the point, though, it's a wonder in this day and age that it takes the judgment of two referees to determine whether a field goal travels through the uprights or not. I've been (pardon the term) kicking this idea around for a while now, but what's to stop college and pro football from developing a more foolproof solution to this? After all, Arena Football doesn't need two referees under its uprights, because the equipment itself is sufficient: outside the two uprights are two tight nets designed to bounce the ball back into play, while inside the uprights is a looser net designed to catch a successful kick. There is never, ever any controversy as to whether a kick is good or not with this setup.
Obviously, Arena Football's outside nets are completely useless in college football, but designing a new goalpost with its loose netting attached to the uprights all the way down to the crossbar seems like an obvious choice -- as would be raising the posts to a regulation standard of 37 feet, to minimize judgment calls like what Boise State and Nevada just went through. Considering the vast sums spent on college football programs this season (and, ahem, the ludicrous amount the NCAA and its conferences receive from television contracts), it seems unfathomable that all I-A teams could not easily afford a new set of goalposts designed to take judgment out of the "is the kick good" equation once and for all.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 10:41 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Boise State's leading this game, as they have for the vast majority of play tonight. But it's only a 24-17 margin, and Boise State can point directly at the penalties it's been committing as a reason that Oregon State's been hanging around in this game.
Twice, during Oregon State's last touchdown drive, Boise State committed drive-extending penalties after holding Oregon State on 3rd down. First, they sacked Ryan Katz, only to commit a taunting penalty after Katz went down. Later, Katz scrambled for a first down and came up short... except a Boise defender led with his helmet, which is another automatic first down.
The Broncos would come back to score a touchdown on their ensuing possession to push the margin back to 14 points, and they held Oregon State to a three and out. Unfortunately, Boise returner Titus Young fumbled the punt, the Beavers recovered, and Oregon State would score a touchdown a few snaps later. The score's now 31-24, late in the third quarter, and the Broncos only have themselves to blame.