Absolutely no love lost...

Idaho gets set to enter a new era with Head Coach Nick Holt as he prepares the Vandals to enter the WAC. Boise State welcomes their arch-nemesis to the Blue with a NCAA best 17 game home win streak on the line...<br><br>.. and when Holt recently couldn't bring himself to say Boise State or Broncos to show his contempt.. he decided to kick a sleeping bear. Last year that mentality led to a 77-14 whooping of the Spartans. Better strap them on tight boys, cause Hawk's looking to make a statement.

The talent level in each successive recruiting class has risen just as fast as that confidence. Now that talent gets a chance to prove it can replace a Ryan Dinwiddie and Tim Gilligan, who teamed up to destroy some defenses last year and were the heart of the Bronco offense, along with departed TB David Mikell. Most of the ‘repair' work is needed on offense, the stars on the WAC leading defense return for the most part.

The team's overall personality is more than likely going to change to more of a defensive focus because of that. But don't count out this year's offense from rising to the occasion, as it has each of the last 5 seasons. Depending on which QB steps up, this year we could see more of a running game designed to wear teams down and that includes some option plays. Or we could see more or less the same scheme as last year with a strong pocket passing game off play action. What we will see for sure is a fast, big hitting defense that should improve over 2003's WAC leading defense and special teams that continue to be a focus for coach Hawk.

Offense:

Believe it or not, in 2003 the Broncos had almost 100 more rushing attempts that passing attempts (572 to 489) so we probably won't see a whole lot more rushing plays overall. What we're likely to see is more yards out of the rushing game due to a more physical offensive line and many weapons in the backfield that possess a variety of strengths in the running game. And we're likely to see less yardage from the passing game due mainly to the fact that Ryan Dinwiddie was the NCAA's all time pass efficiency leader and we'd have to throw 10 more times a game to get an equal number of completions and yardage per game.

QB

Bronco Senior QB Mike Sanford

Cut to the chase, this is what everyone in Boise is watching. All things being equal, if Dinwiddie were coming back we'd be favorites to go undefeated this year and rise even higher in the polls. So no matter what coach speak we hear, this is the pivotal issue for this year's team and 2004's accomplishments. Mediocre play at QB will put this team in a position to scramble for W's.

Sr. Mike Sanford and So. Jared Zabransky are locked in a tight battle for the job and they are not clones of one another so the offense changes depending on who gets the nod.

Both are big and strong (Sanford is 6'4" 211; Zabransky 6'2" 205). Sanford, although faster in the 40 is the pocket passer with the pure release and a beautiful spiral. Zabransky is a bigger and faster version of Bart Hendricks, Dinwiddie's predecessor who is playing in the CFL. He's a very good, aggressive runner and his passing decisions are getting better all the time. Z adds an offensive dimension that the program hasn't had for over 3 years and that could push Z over the edge into the starting job.

WR

Bronco Senior WR Lawrence Bady

When Gilligan went down for the Ft Worth bowl game last year, TJ Acree stepped up to take his spot and did it to the tune of the game's MVP with 8 catches for 150 yards and a TD. Acree's back to take that spot permanently as the #1 target. A clone of Gilligan, Acree is not 6 foot tall and is under 200 pounds, but he's fast and fearless and runs very clean routes. His job this year is to get on the same page with the new QB. And there's a ton of talent behind him. Lawrence Bady, also a senior, returns to improve on his 29 catches for 729 yards last season (25 yds per catch) and will start opposite Acree.

The next wave includes senior Mark Onibokun, sophomore Drisan James, junior Chris Christopher and junior transfer Josh Smith. All are extremely fast and have the coaches looking for good things on game day this year. This is easily the fastest group of wideouts we've ever had at Boise State and they look special in practice. Josh Smith is really turning heads already in summer/fall practices and apparently hasn't dropped a pass in 2 days of practice while twisting DB's into pretzels with his moves. Coach Peterson's offense will take advantage of this crew and they'll make the new QB's job a little easier.

TE

Bronco Soph TE Derek Schouman

This is sophomore Derek Schouman's job. And likely for the next few years. He's that good; fast, elusive and strong and was the only true freshman on the offense last year. The local, Eagle Idaho, product caught 17 passes last year for 272 yards and 4 TD's and caught the game winning pass in last year's bowl victory over TCU. There is no weakness in his game. Behind Schou are a cast of role players, with SR Andy Weldon as the #1 Blocking TE, and FR Ryan Putnam right behind him, and then there's fellow Eagle Alum and Sophomore Sherm Blaser who's as much of a receiving threat as Schou.  The future looks even better given that Schou is here for 3 more seasons and we signed a big time prospect at TE in last year's recruiting class from Long Beach Poly HS. Julian Hawkins has been in town for a while and looks the part of a starter already. But he will likely redshirt this season.

OL

Bronco Junior LT Daryn Colledge

While there's a decent amount of turnover on the line this season, the staff is confident that this will be a strength and overall an improvement over last year. Two redshirt freshmen will start for sure and that's over 2 vets with a lot of playing time under their belts. Gone is Rusty Colburn, a beast that was a fan favorite. Freshman Jeff Cavendar is the #1 right tackle, opposite of all league candidate and All American watch list junior left tackle, Daryn Colledge. Cavendar has been a monster in the weight room and is explosive off the snap. Freshman local product, Tad Miller, a BK alum, will start at left guard. 6'4", 300 pounds of nasty attitude, Miller is one of the strongest Broncos in the weight room already. Returning starting center Klayton Adams returns which is a comfort with the freshmen around him.

The comments from the coaching staff are in line with this bunch blasting holes for a revived running game that has to replace TB David Mikell and his 1000+ yards. These guys have the footwork and attitude for the running game and will have to gel quickly on pass protection if the new QB is going to live through the experience.

Bronco Junior RB Jeff Carpenter

Running Back

"Running back by committee", that's what we've been hearing, yet at the first fall scrimmage one name popped up out of nowhere to put a damper into those plans: Antwaun Carter.

Conventional wisdom has versatile TB Jeff Carpenter getting the start with a variety of tailbacks with specific skills coming in as needed. Carp has the overall skill set of receiving and blocking to go with his shifty running skills, plus he has some experience with his team best 7.6 yards per carry (but on only 21 total carries).

Faster than Carpenter are Lee Marks, Quinton Jones, and Antwaun Carter.

Bigger than Carp are Jon Hellmandollar, Brad Lau, Calvin McCarty, and Antwaun Carter.

In the first fall scrimmage, Carter was the big winner. No one else could muster yards against the defense on the ground, yet Carter pounded out 54 yards on 4 carries with a show of speed and power.  Yet in the second scrimmage The best runner was True Freshman Ian Johnson, which bodes well for the future, but doesn't help sort out the mess in the backfield right now.

 

Offensive players you may not know yet, but will by game's end:
WR Mark Onibokun
WR Drisan James
RB Lee Marks
OG Tad Miller
QB Mike Sanford or Jared Zabransky

Defense

The Broncos lost a first team All WAC safety, a 3 year starter at corner and both inside tackles. Among the returners are All WAC returnees Julius Roberts at DE, Gabe Franklin at CB and Andy Avalos at LB.

Avalos is the preseason WAC DPOTY and the heart of the defense. Julius Roberts is on more than one preseason watch list for national awards and both he, Franklin and Avalos are getting lots of looks from NFL scouts. This is a talented and fast defense.

D Line

Bronco Senior DE Julius Roberts

Roberts anchors one end and at 6'5" 250 he has the size now to go with his 100m sprinter speed (10.7 in HS). He will command more double teams than he saw in 2003, which were many. Opposite Brown at the other end is 6'3 270lb Tim Volk, a bit of a surprise considering that also returning is Mike Williams, a 6'3" 241 pounder that started ever game as a freshman last year and recorded 30 tackles and 1 sack. Expect the Broncos to substitute their DE's more this season as they have more experienced depth. A fresher pair of bookends could spell doom for opposing QB's.

The tackles will be Alex Guerrero, a beast that gets into the backfield a lot and has been in the rotation since his freshman year at both end and tackle. A very versatile big man (6'1" 290). Next to Guerrero will be Andrew Browning (6' 275) who had 31 tackles and 2 sacks last year.  Looking to get into the action for the first time for the Broncos are RedShirt Freshmen Ian Smart, (6'3 280lbs), Dan Gore, (6'5 290lbs), and True Freshman Nick Schlekeway (6'4 255lbs), who continues the Bronco tradition of having a True Freshman in the playing rotation.

Linebacker

Bronco Soph MLB Korey Hall

The strength of the defense, led by Avalos and his 113 tackles (9 for loss) last season. But Korey Hall could lay claim to the best LB in Bronco history before it's all said and done. Starting as a freshman, Hall racked up 92 tackles with 9 for a loss and had several bone crunching hits. Big (6'1" 231) and fast, Hall is a guided missile. The 3rd LB position is open and will go to either sophomore Jared Hunter (6'4" 221) or sophomore Colt Brooks (6'1" 209). The edge goes to Hunter.

And there's a lot of depth behind them that won't likely see much PT given how good these guys are.

DB's

Bronco Senior CB Gabe Franklin

Second team All WAC corner, Gabe Franklin, returns for his senior year. Franklin had 73 tackles and 3 picks (14 in his career) last year even though most teams avoided throwing his way. He's been All WAC for 2 years running. Opposite Franklin at the other corner will be Gerald Alexander who finished his freshman season with 20 tackles and a pick in a backup role. He's a big strong corner (6' 192) with big time skills including a team record vertical jump mark.

Starting safety Chris Carr returns (81 tackles, 4 Int's) will lead the safeties along with Cam Hall. Hall played the nickel position last year and finished with 35 tackles, 3 Int's and 2 sacks. He's got sub 4.5 speed and finishes with a pop.

Redshirt freshman Austin Smith has the inside track at the NickelBack spot, and RSFreshman Ashlei Nyong-Dunham at safety and Junior JC transfer Marcossus LeBlanc have both looked very, very good in practice.

 

Defensive players you may not know yet, but will by game's end:
CB Gerald Alexander
DE Tim Volk
DT Alex Guerrero
NickelBack Austin Smith

Bronco Senior Chris Carr

Special Teams

Both senior placekicker Tyler Jones ( Lou Groza watch list) and sophomore punter Kyle Stringer return.  Jones made 19 of 25 FG attempts and 75 of 76 PAT's, leading the WAC in scoring with 132 points. In addition, over half of his kickoffs went for touchbacks.  Stringer, a true freshman last year, had 60 punts for a 40+ yard average last year and had 18 punts inside the 20 yard line.  Tim Gilligan and his return expertise will be the biggest hole to fill and it looks like Chris Carr will step up to return both punts and kickoffs, and will be joined on kickoff returns by RedShirt Soph. Quinton Jones, (One of the fastest Broncos). Carr was an all everything tailback in HS, leading to his being named the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year his Senior season, and has great speed and moves and is fearless. Shouldn't be a big drop-off here either, in fact the return game could even be better, believe it or not.


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