Who are the players who must step up and contribute this year? Well, the list is long.. but we've chosen 5 players who will be feeling the pressure as the focus of the program shifts to rest on their shoulders.
- Andrew Browning
A former walkon who beat out an All-State player from California, Browning showed last year that he cannot be taken lightly by opposing teams. Andrew ended up being one of the best, if not the best pass-rushing DT on the team. This year, he will be counted on even more as he will not be spelling the starters, but will move into being the starter. The only part of the Bronco's defense that can even be said to be lacking in recent years has been a consistent pass-rush, and it will be up to Andrew to bring the heat from the middle of the line. With Alex Guerrero plugging up the middle and drawing double coverage in blocking schemes because of his speed and strength, Andrew will be often left straight up... which should play right into the Bronco's plans.
- Gerald Alexander
Gerald is the front-runner for the unenviable task of taking over for a 3 year starter at CB. Making matters worse, he is opposite the most dominant cornerback in the WAC, and he will inherit a position that is on the same side as the new Linebacker in the most dominant Linebacker corps in the WAC. Where do you think teams will run/pass, at Gabe and Andy, or at the 2 new starters? Given the importance of the Left Cornerback spot, Gerald will need to not only show up, but play consistent ball.. something that he is more than capable of. Thrown into the mix here as well is Marcosus LeBlanc. Should Marcosus sneak by Gerald, you can put the same importance on his play as there is on Gerald.. but at this point it still appears that Gerald has a slight lead over LeBlanc.
- Cam Hall
Dominant Safeties are a Bronco staple. With 2 current NFL safeties, (QMike: Philadelphia, Shaunard: Kansas City), from the last 3 to play the position on the Blue, and a host of All-Conference players, the Broncos have come to expect big things from the position. Cam Hall is projected to step in for departed All-WAC 1st teamer Wes Nurse, and should make the transition a little easier to bear. Cam was the Nickelback last year so he has lots of experience, and is one of the fastest Broncos, sporting a 4.45 40. Cam is one of the more solid bets for a great season, but switching from coming off the bench to being a starter can be a load. The Broncos play an attacking defense that channels a lot of the playmaking to their Linebackers and Safeties, which is why it is so important that Cam maintain the level of solid play that has been set by Shaunard Harts, Quinton Mikell, and Wes Nurse before him.
- Jeff Cavender
How crazy is it to start the season with a RSFR at a tackle position? I mean.. how often does something like that end in success?? Well... if you're a Bronco fan, and you know anything about the team, you know that current Left Tackle Daryn Colledge has owned his tackle position since his RSFR season.. so it appears that it is a recipe for success with the Broncos. Now, it should be noted that Jeff is not the only RSFR projected as a starter on the OLine.. RSFR Tad Miller is projected as the starter at Left Guard. But between the 2, we had to give the nod to Jeff as Tad has one of the most dominant Offensive Lineman in the NCAA's today at his side. Jeff was very highly regarded out of HS, and should continue the string of success the Broncos have enjoyed with Nevada recruits. Jeff's twin brother, Pete Cavender, could end up joining him on the starting lineup at Center.
- Lee Marks
I'll be honest.. I kept going back and forth between Lee and QJones... but in the end I had to go with the player who performed last year. You could, however, put both players in this area because they both serve the same purpose.. they provide a serious deep threat in the backfield. Both are a threat to go downtown everytime they touch the ball. Both are best utilized not in an every-down situation, but occasionally as a change of pace back. The Broncos are loaded with bruising backs: Brad Lau, Jon Helmandollar, Calvin McCarty, Antwaun Carter,... but having that change of pace back who can cut on a dime and simply blow past the defenders, keeps the defense guessing, making the bruisers even more successful. Lee showed flashes of brilliance last year against UTEP and Hawaii, and QJones was, by far, the player to watch a year ago at this time.. together they're a formidable duo that will demand attention, and keep defenses honest.
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