Boise State Preview

Devils Digest's Joe Healey examines ASU's MACCO Las Vegas Bowl opponent – Boise State

Boise State Offensive Preview

The Bronco offense features a pair of All-America recipients in stellar quarterback Kellen Moore as well as stalwart left tackle Nate Potter.

Moore, who ranks first in FBS history in career wins (49), second in career touchdown passes (140) and fifth in career passing yards (14,374), is likely to be a future collegiate Hall of Famer member and arguably the most efficient and accurate passer in the game today. In 2011, the southpaw has totaled 3,507 passing yards and surreal statistics of a 41-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 74.1% completion clip.

In addition to the national headliners, the Broncos boast a spectacular pair of receivers in Tyler Shoemaker, whose 15 receiving touchdowns broke the school's single-season record, and Matt Miller (58 catches, 647 yards, eight TDs), a one time ASU recruit and Freshman All-American.

The Bronco rush game is paced by standout Doug Martin, a threat both on the ground (1,148 rushing yards and 15 TDs) and as a receiver (25 receptions, 229 yards, two TDs). Behind Martin as a rusher is D.J. Harper—certainly no slouch himself—who has totaled 553 rushing yards with eight touchdowns and 18 receptions for 143 yards and a score.

Also in the pass game, Boise State features Mitch Burroughs (45 receptions, 441 yards), tight end Kyle Efaw (26 receptions, 226 yards) and Kirby Moore (20 receptions, 217 yards).

Along with Potter, Boise State's offensive line consists of Arizona native Joe Kellogg at left guard, Cory Yrirarte at center, Chuck Hayes at right guard and Charles Leno, Jr. at right tackle.

On offense, one key element is that Boise State will not provide the defense many opportunities to strike, as the Broncos lead the nation in fewest sacks allowed per game (0.67) and rank fourth in pass efficiency (172.43). Boise State is experienced and talented at virtually every offensive position, with the greatest strength being Moore, one of the top college passers of all time.

Boise State Defensive Preview

Defensively, the Broncos' leading tackler is Byron Hout—working his way out of the memories as the player Oregon's LeGarrette Blount punched in 2009—as Hout has totaled 65 tackles from his MIKE linebacker position.

Up front, Boise State boasts an excellent pair of defensive ends in Tyrone Crawford and Shea McClellin, who have combined for 23 tackles-for-loss and 12.5 sacks. Tyler Horn (seven tackles), Jarrell Root (23 tackles) and Darren Koontz (four tackles) are three players likely to spell Crawford and McClellin as reserve ends.

At tackle, Chase Baker (20 tackles) joins Billy Winn (30 tackles, 6.0 TFL), with Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (15 tackles) and Mike Atkinson (26 tackles) behind them.

Aaron Tevis (41 tackles) joins Hout in the starting linebacker lineup with J.C. Percy (43 tackles) also likely to see ample time, while Blake Renaud (10 tackles) is listed as Hout's primary reserve.

At safety, Cedric Febis (46 tackles) and Travis Stanaway (33 tackles) are positioned as starters with Jeremy Ioane (six tackles) and Quaylon Ewing-Burton (26 tackles) behind them, with Hunter White (30 tackles), Jonathan Brown (19 tackles) and Dextrell Simmons (13 tackles) as the nickel defensive backs.

Freshman Lee Hightower (21 tackles), the only non-senior starter, joins George Iloka (57 tackles) as the starting cornerbacks, with Antwon Murray, Bryan Douglas (10 tackles) and Josh Borgman (15 tackles) as backups.

Though from a statistical perspective there are few defensive players for the Broncos that jump out on paper, according to the team's depth chart, 10 of the 11 starters are seniors, giving Boise State a seasoned, unified defense.

The Broncos' collective talents are showcased in the stat columns as well, as Boise State ranks 10th in the nation in scoring defense (18.25), 16th in total defense 315.58) and 22nd in rushing defense (120.08).

Boise State Special Teams Preview

In the return game, Mitch Burroughs (13.3 avg. on 18 returns) and Chris Potter (10.5 avg. on 14 returns) are the primary punt returners, with Doug Martin (26.8 avg. on eight returns) as the top kickoff returner.

With the Bronco's elite offense, Boise State has only attempted nine field goals on the year—with Dan Goodale connecting on 3-of-5 and Michael Frisina making 3-of-4.

Brad Elkin has enjoyed an excellent season as Boise State's punter, averaging 41.8 yards on 41 punts with 23 downed inside the 20-yard line.

Conclusion

Even from an admittedly Maroon and Gold biased stance, ASU is at as marked a disadvantage as any team in the postseason. Not only are the Sun Devils amid the awkwardness of a ousted coach in his last game, but the Broncos come to Vegas full of piss and vinegar after being snubbed from a BCS bowl appearance despite Boise State's seventh-place ranking in the decisive poll.

In addition to Dennis Erickson's swan song with the Sun Devils, ASU enters the game slightly short-handed and perhaps devoid of total focus, as issues such as player suspensions and a potential second-team demotion to Vontaze Burfict can't help but cloud the team's focus.

Known for efficiency despite general anonymity, Boise State has become the nation's perennial overachiever under highly coveted head coach Chris Petersen.

Ultimately, ASU's defense cracked and shattered down the stretch against offensive competition significantly less potent than Boise State, eliciting fear that Kellen Moore may torch the Devils in his final collegiate outing.

For the Sun Devils to pull off a surprise win, ASU will have to be nearly perfect on offensive and force multiple turnovers from Boise State, a tall task considering the Broncos' offensive security.


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