As Boise State has developed a national reputation in recent years, quarterbacks Bart Hendricks and Ryan Dinwiddie helped the Broncos become famous for their aerial attack, piling up astounding numbers through the air as the prolific Boise State offense led the nation 3 of the last 4 years. Imagine the surprise, then, when the Boise State running game showed up among the Top 15 in the country last year. The Broncos featured an entire stable of talented backs last year, most of whom return this fall. Balance, size and speed are all crucial to competing with the nation's elite and at running back, the Boise State coaches feel they have the horses to give them each one of those characteristics.
Lee Marks (5-7,181, Sr.) broke away from a running back by committee system to pace the Broncos in rushing with 968 yards, 13th highest total in Bronco history. Marks is a cutting, slashing back with speed who, because of his dimunative size, is able to sit back and pick his holes since he is difficult for defensive linemen to see. Lee also caught nine passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. Marks averaged a sparkling 5.1 yards per carry. Lee went over the century mark in three of those games, including a sterling 140-yard effort in a tight game against San Jose State. Marks has a shifty style and with his speed, he's usually by the line before they can see him. His career totals are 1,134 yards rushing, 51 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns scored. Marks was named to the preseason All-WAC team by Athlon Sports.
Always dependable Jeff Carpenter (5-9, 197) will look to have a stellar senior season as the Kuna High School product has always provided excitement. Because of his build and good leg strength, Carpenter is able to break tackles and keep fighting for yards when many other backs would be on the ground 5 yards upfield. He is one of the most versatile running backs the Broncos have ever had. Jeff ran for 286 yards, 2 touchdowns and sported a fine 4.6 yards per carry average of his own, not to mention a perfect 3 for 3 throwing the ball with 2 of those going for touchdowns! He toted the ball 12 times for a carrer high of 66 yards at UTEP. Carpenter is the kind of guy that will always give you extra effort; he gains a good percentage of his yards after the initial hit. Going into his senior year, "Carp" has 526 yards rushing, 191 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns.
Antwaun Carter (5-7, 214, Sr.) is a bowling ball-type runner for the Broncos, but Carter also has blazing speed to go along with his size and speed. Carter rang up 278 yards on the ground and 7 touchdowns, or 1 score for every 10 times he touched the ball. Carter's career high came against SMU, when he gained 98 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. The Broncos need to have a big inside game for the Broncos to win, and Carter fits the bill. Brett Denton (5-9, 197, Jr.) with a 9.2 yards per carry average is going to press for playing time in 2005. Add in freshmen Ian Johnson (5-11, 193) and you have the deepest group of running backs in Boise State history. Consider that of the 2,758 yards rushing and 49 rushing touchdowns for Boise State last season, returning players accumulated 2,396 of those yards and 32 of those touchdowns! The challenge won't be finding a running back, but rather finding ways to get each of them the ball. Coach Hawkins and Coach Petersen excel in that area.
The Broncos are also ready for the future, just getting the services of local high school stars, freshmen Mark Stopczynski (6-0, 190) from Centennial High School and Max Davis (5-10, 173) from McCall.
Brad Lau (5-11, 255, Jr.) improved with each game last season and returns at fullback for Chris Peterson's offense. Lau had 53 yards and 2 touchdowns in '04. He is a bulldozer of a running back, tough to bring down in traffic. Lau recoverd a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown against Louisville in the Liberty Bowl. He holds three running back records in the weight room--the power clean (403 pounds), the hang clean (452 lbs.) and the bench press (435 lbs.). Michael Lose (5-10, 228, So.) has been improving and playing hard in practice and could also see the field in Athens.
You look at the personnel in the backfield and know that nearly any one of them could rush for over 1,000 yards. The size, the speed, the effort, the versatility--it's all there for Boise State this fall. Is it possible to improve upon 2,768 rushing yards and 49 rushing touchdowns? With this group, the answer is "absolutely".