5 positions that are still up in the air...

Everybody knows that with the departure of Ryan Dinwiddie comes the search for a replacement, but what sometimes gets lost in all the hype is the equally important search for a few other positions.<br><br>Over the course of this week we'll look at some of the questions facing the Broncos this fall.. starting with a few of the positions that are up in the air, who's in the running, and our fearless predictions for who'll be starring in the Bronco's Traveling Domination Show.

 

Center:

The Plot:

1 year ago, Joe Wiegand was a RSFR, and was the popular pick to start at C.  A year later, Wiegand has moved to Guard, and last year's starter, Mike MacLeod, has graduated.  That means that the new QB will be lining up behind a new center.  Enter the 3 applicants who are all vying for the starting spot.  

The cast of characters:

  1. Klayton Adams, (Incumbent)
  2. Pete Cavender, (The Young Gun) 
  3. Jeff Biederman, (The WildCard)

The Script:

Klayton Adams has the early nod, and why not?  He seamlessly stepped in when Tyrone Tutogi couldn't go in the Ft. Worth Bowl.  However, Klay is being pushed by a couple of young'uns who are both very good.  Pete Cavender is on half of the phenomenal Cavender duo.  Another Nevadan on the Bronco's squad who looks to make an early impact, Pete is only a RSFR, but his twin has sewn up the Right Tackle position, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if Pete did likewise with the Center position.  However, late this summer, word came down that Jeff Biederman had moved from DT to Center.  Surprising is the best way to describe this development.  Biederman was the 1 True Freshman to play right away on the Defensive Line... although his play was cut short due to injury.  Biederman was expected to figure into the DLine rotation, but now could earn a starting spot on the OLine.  All 3 players are strong, and have the attitude coaches love, (Coachable yet nasty.)  

The Prediction:

It's hard to pick against an underdog like Klayton, from walk-on to starter.. undersized in height, but oversized in heart, he is a prototypical Bronco success story.  Pete or Jeff could replace Klay, but until they do I've gotta go with the proven commodity.

 

 

Running Back:

The Plot:

2 years, 2 1000 yard rushers.  First, Brock Forsey dominated the WAC, then David Mikell quietly went over 1000 yards, (if you can break 1k yards quietly.)  Now, the Broncos search for someone to step in and carry on the tradition of a strong running game.

The Cast of Characters:

  1. Jeff Carpenter
  2. Lee Marks
  3. Antwaun Carter
  4. Jon Helmandollar
  5. Calvin McCarty
  6. Quinton Jones 

The Script:

Jeff Carpenter is another local kid, Bronco walk-on success story.  Originally from Kuna, he has taken every chance he's had and excelled.  Not blessed with the speed of a DMike, or the strength of a Brad Lau, Carp just gains yards.  He is fast enough, strong enough, smart enough, and elusive enough to not only earn the early starting nod, but to deserve the respect that goes with it.  Carp typifies the recruits that have made Boise State successful.  Lee Marks came to Boise State ranked as one of the top 75 Corner prospects in the nation.  He moved to Tailback last season and quickly showed the kind of speed and moves that Boise State has lacked in the backfield for a number of years.  Antwuan Carter came to Boise State a year ago and redshirted.  Carter has the credentials that make everyone take notice, 4.4 speed, with the kind of strength usually reserved for an OLineman.  He has had injury problems, but if he is healthy could become a major weapon in the Broncos arsenal.  Jon Helmandollar.  Dollar, as he's called, is the odds on favorite to be the full-time starter by season's end.  A former Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year, he is big, strong, fast, and hard to bring down.  He brings the intriguing possibility of a backfield of 2 of the strongest RB's in Boise State History, (Brad Lau at FB).  Calvin McCarty is our Canadian import in the backfield.  He is as strong as Helmandollar, but a little faster, and a little more elusive.  He is a favorite to be the backup FB, but he runs well enough to be a serious contender for the RB spot.  He tore up the Canadian league he was in, and if given the chance, could likely do the same in the WAC.  Quinton Jones was all the buzz a year ago.  A true 4.3 guy, QJones was voted the "player to watch" after his RS season.  He got sidetracked last year early in the season by a knee injury, but is said to be 100% and itching to prove his worth in the backfield.  

The Prediction:

Who knows.  Carp will get serious looks, so will Marks, Helmandollar, and Carter.  Jones and McCarty figure to be on the outside, but RB is one position where the coaches can go with multiple players in a game and go back to the one(s) who have been successful.  Talk to any 10 Bronco fans and you'll find that there are probably votes for all of the players mentioned.. but the most votes would probably go to either Carpenter or Helmandollar.  Given that Carp has been there, and showed his value in the Ft. Worth Bowl, I've gotta go with him.

 

LineBacker

The Plot:

This may be the most coveted position on the team.  Whoever lines up alongside Korey Hall and Andy Avalos is going to look like an NFL caliber player simply because the other 2 are good enough to warrant double teams in blocking schemes, leaving 1 blocker or less for 'the new guy.'  The question is.. who will the new guy be?

The Cast of Characters:

  1. Jared Hunter
  2. Josh Bean
  3. Colt Brooks

The Script:

Travis Burgher wasn't the fastest player, or the strongest, he didn't deliver many bone-crushing hits either... what he did was play the SAM position to perfection using his feel for the game.  He was often in the right place at the right time for an INT, or to stop the reverse, or to get the QB as he scrambled around.  With his graduation, the Broncos must replace that steady level of play.  The favorite after the season ended was Jared Hunter.  Big and fast (6'4 225), Hunter backed up Burgher last year and did so very well.  However, after a freak accident during a kickoff coverage run-through left him with a broken leg, Jared must not only reclaim his health, but also his killer instinct.  The coaches have said that his health is 100%, so now, if his mental game is back to 100% as well, he may own the position for the next 3 seasons.  Pushing Jared is Canadian phenom Josh Bean.  Bean has all the tools that make him a fan favorite.  Already called an 'NFL caliber talent', Bean is big and sturdy, coming in at 6'2 225lbs.  However, he also has the kind of speed that makes him a guided missile.  Physical talent isn't what's holding Josh back, but his mental game needs to catch up to his talent.  If he can understand and execute like the coaches want, then he could be on his way to a storybook career.  Colt Brooks is another in the long line of local players who walk-on the Bronco squad and more than earn their keep.  Colt is good sized for a SAM, and has more than adequate skills... however where Colt excels is his understanding of the position.  He is very reminiscent to Travis in that he knows where he needs to be and what he needs to do.  He may not supply as many hi-light reels of hits as some of the others, but his level of play is probably the highest of all the potential LB'rs.

The Prediction:

Jared  has the experience, Josh has the potential, and Colt has the mentality.  When faced with uncertainty, sometimes the best thing to do is to go with the devil you know.  Josh will get there, and in the mean time, (should there be a mean time), will provide some serious 'WOW' moments on special teams, and Colt wont have to worry about playing time because in an attacking defense, quality backups are as important as star-caliber starters.. but until one of them shows in game-time that they can usurp Jared, my vote has to go to him. 

 

Defensive Tackle:

The Plot:

Gone are both of last years starters.  What's left are 2 players with actual game experience and a host of youngsters with lots of size and talent.  For a team that has struggled to get a pass-rush, finding the right combination for the playing rotation could mean the difference between a close win and a "Boise Stated" win.

The Cast of Characters:

  1. Alex Guerrero
  2. Andrew Browning
  3. Tim Volk
  4. Dan Gore
  5. Ian Smart
  6. Russell Wiersma

The Script:

Lets just get it straight from the get-go.. Alex and Andrew own the starting DT spots.  They both showed last year that they can step in and not only contribute, but more than hold their own against the best in the WAC.  What is of more concern, however, is who will give these guys breathers.  Last year Jeff Biederman was the one true freshman who earned playing time right away.  Now, however, he is in the thick of the hunt on the other side of the ball, leaving the rotation up in the air.  Tim Volk comes in as a RSSophomore looking to contribute right away.  He has the credentials that warrant serious consideration, and has reportedly been spending the past few months working (and getting bigger, stronger, and faster), in the quest to earn a starting spot right away.  Dan Gore is big.. at 6'4 290lbs, he's got the size to help plug up the middle ala Paul Allen.  Gore was the original DT recruit last year, signed in Feb. of 03.  Gore has lots of frame to build on, and should get even bigger and stronger over his career.  After an outstanding HS career, Ian Smart kinda fell into the Bronco's lap.  Late in the recruiting season he was on the outside looking in because of an elbow injury, but after surgery and a redshirt year, he is stronger than ever and ready to hit the field once again.  Russell Wiersma came to Boise State from Buhl as another Idaho walk-on looking to make a mark.  Now, a year later, and an additional 40+ pounds to his frame, he is a legit candidate for playing time. 

The Prediction:

My fearless prediction.. Alex and Andy will start.  From there, we may see tweaking and changes until the right rotation is found.  A safe bet would be that Volk will see playing time both at DT and DE, between the other 3 Freshmen, Smart and Gore are the likely candidates, but if there's anything we should've all learned about Idaho walkons.. it's that you can't count them out.  Here I take the safe bet and say that all 6 will see playing time, with the playing rotation looking very similar to the numbered list above.

Quarterback:

The Plot:

Is there possibly anything I can add to all the speculation that has dominated Boise since RD graduated?

The Cast of Characters:

  1. Mike Sanford
  2. Jared Zabransky
  3. Legedu Naanee
  4. Taylor Tharp
  5. Cade Woolstenhulme

The Script:

The winner gets the pleasure of running the most prolific Offense over the past 5 years.  Sanford is the patient Senior who came to Boise State before all the glory.  The tallest of the Bronco QB's at 6'4, he has the best handle on the complex Bronco offense, and has the best arm of all the QB candidates.  Zabransky is the confident youngster who backed up RD last season and who is said to be a natural leader.  Zabransky played the most last season of any of the QB's, bringing a different punch off the Bronco Bench as he usually ran the option with great success.  Naanee is the most talented QB in Boise State history, blessed with size, speed, strength, and much too much talent to sit.  Tharp is the young gun who has the touch and the stats to demand attention.  Woolstenhulme, a local kid walk-on who came out of obscurity to earn a number of "who's that guy" comments at the Spring Blue/Orange game, is a likely redshirt candidate.

The Prediction:

It is down to Sanford and Zabransky, reports say that Sanford has a slight lead, but here's the BC best bet.. Sanford is the man because the Broncos must have an Air attack, something that Sanford offers more of than Z.  Plus, despite the popular misconception, despite being the tallest Bronco QB, Sanford is far from slow and lumbering.. in fact, his 40 time is the best among QB's at 4.7 flat.  The combination of his handle of the complex offense, along with his threat on the long ball put Sanford over the top.

 

Overview:

It may be a cop-out, but when players have proven their mettle on the battle-field, I have a harder time picking against them, even if what waits in the wings has more talent, potential, and upside.  Klay, Carp, and Jared have all shown that they're capable of helping the Broncos win.  What awaits the fans is to see if Sanford and the DT crew can live up to their potential come Sept. 4th.  My prediction is, (of course), another season of great success for the Broncos.


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