<center><img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v44/Rafter17/e005bd4a.jpg"></center><br><br>Jared Zabransky and the new-look Boise State Broncos look to play the rude host to Derek Anderson and the Oregon State Beavers.
Rematch on the Blue!!!
(Landmark 100th I-A Game for Broncos)
Friday night…….Bronco Stadium. BoiseState vs. OregonState, to be nationally televised by ESPN. It's the game that BoiseState faithful have looked forward to since September 20, 2003 when OregonState converted on a 3rd and 19 play deep in their
own territory and eventually ran out the clock, preserving a 26-24 victory for
the Beavers. Boise State has run off
gaudy numbers, such as leading the nation in scoring three of the last four
years, accumulating a 54-11 record since 1999 (3rd in the nation)
and a 26-2 mark since 2002. Only OhioState can match that latter record. The Broncos finished both
the 2002 season and last year's campaign in the Top 15 of the national polls.
Yet the knock has been that the
Broncos cannot win the big one, meaning the games against "BCS teams". Close
doesn't count, and unfortunately, the Broncos can only play the "close" card
against BCS schools with the lone exception being a victory over IowaState in the 2002 Humanitarian Bowl. Friday's game will be the
100th Division I-A game since BoiseState began playing major college football in 1996. What
better way to mark the occasion than to begin to show that they have what it
takes to not only compete with the big boys but to win?
Are the planets properly aligned
to allow such a thing to happen? Many of the national "experts and
prognosticators" believe that they are. One thing's for sure: the Broncos have
the attention of the Beavers—last year's game made sure of that. Both teams are
respected in the national polls (BoiseState is 27th and OregonState 28th in the ESPN Coaches' poll; the Broncos are 30th in the Associated Press poll while OSU is 33rd). BoiseState is coming off an impressive 65-7 season-opening win
against Idaho, while OregonState lost a heartbreaking 22-21 decision in overtime at LouisianaState in a game in which they led the Tigers nearly the entire
QB: At quarterback, it will be Senior Derek Anderson (6-6, 241) for OSU against BoiseState's Jared Zabransky. Anderson was the difference-maker last season, passing for 408
yards against the Broncos. He followed that up with a 485-yard performance
against USC. For the year, Anderson ranked 9th
nationally in total offense with over 302 yards per game and became only
the 2nd quarterback in PAC-10 history to throw for over 4,000 yards
in a season. He needs 1,957 yards and 6 touchdown passes to break those
all-time records at OregonState—in fact, he will probably hold nearly every record in
the Beaver record book when his career is finished. The only backup with more
than one attempted pass for OregonState is Senior Adam Rothenfouh (22-40 in his career).
Zabransky (6-1, 225, Jr.) was a sizzling 11-15
(he's now 22-38 in his college career) in his starting debut against Idaho and also scored 3 touchdowns. Senior Michael Sanford (6-4, 215, Sr.) is 14-22 in his career at BoiseState.
RB: Gone is Stephen Jackson, the famed running back from OregonState who is now playing on Sundays in the NFL for the St. Louis Rams. Senior Dwight Wright (5-9, 195) will try to fill Jackson's shoes, and he performed ably against a strong LSU
defense, totaling 85 yards on 17 carries (5.0 average). BoiseState's Lee Marks (5-7, 175, Jr.)had quite a game himself, going over the century mark against Idaho. Marks carries a 6.3 career average into the game with OregonState, and Jeff Carpenter (5-10, 2210, Jr.) nets 7.6 yards every time he touches the ball. Brad Lau (5-11, 246, So.) gives the Broncos a strong inside running game.
Bronco Receivers: The Broncos went through the entire game with Idaho with their top two returning receivers, Lawrence Bady (5-10, 189, Sr.--29 catches for 726 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2003) and T.J. Acree (5-10, 178, Sr.--51 for 758 and 7 TD's), having 1 catch between them. Bady missed game
one with a bad hamstring and was the Broncos' prime deep threat last season. Chrisean Christopher (6-1, 170, Jr.) stepped in nicely for Bady, catching 3 passes for 81 yards. Drisan James (5-11, 180, So.)is also expected to play a key role for the Broncos.
Clearly, given the strong OregonState defense and an athletic secondary, others will have to
step forward Friday night if BoiseState is to win. Tight End Derek Schouman has the size and speed to cause damage—look for OSU to pay close
attention to him. The sophomore from Eagle grabbed 4 passes for 120 yards in
the season opener against Idaho.
Haas (6-1, 209, Jr.), who caught 5 passes for 50 yards against LSU, will be
counted on for a big year for the Beavers with the departure of James Newson.
Newson, whose size and athleticism caused the Bronco secondary considerable
trouble in last year's game (9 receptions for 208 yards), is also now in the
NFL. Hass had 44 receptions for 1013 yards (23 yards per catch) as a sophomore last year. Senior George Gillett (6-1, 219) returns at flanker-he caught 5 balls for 29 yards in the
opener while Marcel Love
(6-1, 188, Jr.) is the slotback for OSU. Tight ends Joe Newton (7 for 71, 1 TD) and Dan Haines (4-25) give Anderson good targets over the middle. Sophomore Newton goes 6-7, 257, while Junior Haines from Lewiston is 6-4, 242.
Bronco Line: The Bronco line will be looking to keep the vaunted
Beaver defense out of the backfield Friday night; they'll need to in order to
allow Zabransky to set up shop and execute the BoiseState offense. Juniors Daryn Colledge (6-5, 291) and Jeff Cavender (6-2, 275) are the tackles, M.J.
Ansel (6-3, 289, Sr.) and Freshman Tad Miller (6-4, 296) at the guard positions and Klayton Adams (5-10, 293, Sr.) at center. Colledge is a solid player with great
technique and determination that has NFL scouts watching closely. The entire
group is very close and plays as a cohesive unit.
Beaver Line: Senior Doug Nienhuis (6-6,
321) and Sophomore Adam Koets (6-6, 293) anchor the Beaver line at tackle, with
Sophomore Josh Linehan
(6-4, 284) and Freshman Roy Schuening (6-3,302) at the guards and Center Matt Brock (6-2, 298) snapping the ball. Ninehuis, according to Head Coach Mike Riley, "has set himself up to be one of the better tackles in college
football." The hogs up front for OregonState did a number on the highly-respected LSU defense, totaling
315 yards of total offense.
Bronco Defensive Line: This is where the game could be decided. We know how
good the OregonState defense is, but the key could be how the OregonStateoffensedoes against the BoiseState defense. Oregon State put up 562 yards of total offense in last year's game and if Beaver
quarterback Derek Anderson is allowed the time to sit and choose his receivers
at will, it will be a long night for Bronco fans. Charged with the task of
getting to know Anderson up close will be a much-improved defensive line
featuring Senior Julius Roberts (6-5, 245) and Tim Volk (6-3, 273, So.) at ends and Junior Alex Guerrero (6-1, 273) and Sophomore Andrew Browning (6-0, 272) at the tackles.
Bronco Linebackers: This corps of BoiseState linebackers is the strength of the defensive unit. Senior
Andy Avalos (5-11, 220)
gravitates to the football and is a huge force but concentrate on him and
Sophomore Korey Hall
(6-1,231) will blindside you or Colt Brooks (6-1, 209, So.) will wrap you up. Can this trio match the reputation of
the Beaver linebackers? Stay tuned.
Bronco Secondary:Gabe Franklin (5-10, 185) has enjoyed a stellar career at BoiseState and is looking to cap that off with a memorable senior
season at cornerback. The emergence of Gerald Alexander (6-0,192, So.) as a starter gives the Broncos a solid pair to defend
against the pass. One of the best tacklers on the team, Chris Carr (5-9,184, Sr.), and hard-hitting Cam Hall (6-0, 209), Jr.) are the safeties.
Beaver Defensive Line: The earmark of OregonState the last several years as been a solid defense and seven
starters return to make sure that tradition continues. Last year's unit allowed
just 288 yards per game, ranked 7th in the country. The OSU defense
was 4th against the run (84.4 yards per game) 6th in
passing efficiency defense (98.85 ypg) and 10th in interceptions
with 20. They are the best defense to ever come to play BoiseState at Bronco Stadium. Up front, it's Senior Bill Swancutt (6-4, 259) leading the way at defensive end. Swancutt, an Honorable
Mention All-PAC 10 performer, is already the Beavers' career sacks leader with
25.5 and needs just 15 tackles for loss to take over that category as well. Joe
Lemma (6-5, 252, So.) and tackles Sir Henry Anderson (6-3,294, Jr.) and Ben
Siegert (6-4, 271, So.), an All-PAC 10 Freshman selection by The Sporting
News, join Swancutt on the defensive line.
Beaver Linebackers:Trent Bray (6-1,234) will move into the middle
linebacker position with Senior Jonathan Pollard (6-1,234) and Junior Keith Ellison (6-2, 224) flanking him. Bray is the team's leading returning tackler
with 76, 13 for loss. According to Coach Riley, Bray "has great instincts for
the game and finds a way to get to the ball." Pollard is pegged to be another
NFL pick in this year's draft (the Beavers have had 3 in the last 2 years) and
was credited with 50 tackles last season. Pollard "has all the physical
capabilities to be in that group" (former Beaver linebackers in the pros),
Riley said. "He needs to be consistent. He's someone we need to rely on,
especially early, for leadership."
Beaver Secondary: The secondary is superb for OregonState. Aric Williams (6-0, 172, Sr.) and Brandon Browner (6-4, 202, So.) are the corners for OSU with Free Safety Mitch Meeuwsen (6-3, 205, Sr.) and Strong Safety Sabby Piscitelli (6-3,217, So.) giving the Beavers amazing height in their secondary.
Meeuwsen is one of the best free safeties in college football with 14 career
interceptions (one shy of the OSU record) and 52 tackles last year. Browner
earned PAC-10 Freshman of the Year honors last season after picking off 6
passes, including 3 against ArizonaState. Williams added 12 pass breakups and 4 interceptions.
"We ask a lot of our corners," Riley said. "We put them on an island and Aric
responded with a great season."
The Kicking Game: Should the game come down to kicking, the Broncos seem
to have the edge with Lou Groza award
candidate Tyler Jones, who
made 17 of 23 field goal attempts (long of 52) in 2003 and booted 71 of 72
extra-point tries. Alexis
Serna is the new starter for the Beavers. Sam Paulescu will handle the punting for OregonState and Kyle Stringer is set to go for the Broncos.
Coaches: This is Mike Riley's second stint as Head Coach for the
Beavers—he returned to Corvallis last year after an NFL career that saw Riley coach the San Diego Chargers for four seasons as well as an assistant coaching position with
the New Orleans Saints. This
is Riley's 4th season in the collegiate ranks, where he has compiled
a record of 16-20. That record is deceiving as his 5-6 mark in 1998 was the
best season for OregonState in 27 years. After recruiting the players to establish
the program nationally, he left OregonState, only to return last season to lead the Beavers to an
8-5 record and a Las Vegas Bowl win.
Dan Hawkins took over from Dirk Koetter in 2000 and has quickly built the Broncos
into a formidable force, earning respect from the nation's media, his fellow
college coaches and the nation's sports fans in the process. Hawkins has become
without a doubt the most successful coach in Bronco history, as his 34-6 record
and the national rankings attest to.
If the 2004 version of this game
can match last year's game at Reser Stadium, it will be a doozy. The game has
been sold out for weeks with tickets selling on EBay for as much as $130
apiece. Look for the nationally-televised game to set another Bronco Stadium
attendance record (this one would have drawn 40,000 or more!) when the two
teams take the field Friday. Get there early, revel in the tailgating
atmosphere and then get set to watch two great college football teams in action
on the Blue!