Boise State/San Jose State.. Deja Vu?

Boise State, dreaming of an undefeated season and a possible BCS Bowl berth, travels to San Jose to take on the dangerous Spartans who are talented, surprisingly tough, and motivated to knock the Broncos off their WAC throne.. wait, is this the 2004 Broncos or the 2006 Broncos..?? Well one thing is for sure.. this time around ESPN isn't making the teams play for their breakfasts.

LAST WEEK: Boise State took on always tough Fresno State last Wednesday night on ESPN2 and looked every bit the undefeated team as they dominated the game to improve to 9-0 on the season. Ian Johnson ran for 136 yards and 2 TD's against a stout Fresno defense. Boise State's league leading defense held the Bulldogs to just 1 Offensive TD as the Bulldogs got another score on Defense on an INT and on a Kickoff Return.

LAST WEEK: While San Jose State Spartan fans and other WAC conference members are still wondering if this south bay team is actually bowl bound and for real, it will be witnessed for all to see with the Spartans' next three games versus Boise, Hawaii, and Idaho. And no matter how this season completes, it's been one hell of a turn around for Coach Dick Tomey and his staff. The 31-21 victory over New Mexico State last week enabled San Jose State to became bowl eligible for the first time in six years, and the Spartans also celebrated their first road win in three years! The Spartans have their "Thunder" back, and look to strike again when the Broncos of Boise State visit San Jose this Saturday in a WAC war!

KEY INJURIES:

  • RG Pete Cavender (Achilles-out for season)
  • LB Mike Altieri (Knee-out for season)
  • OL Ryan Keating (Broken leg-out for season)
  • TE Sherm Blaser (Foot-out for season)

KEY INJURIES:

  • SJSU escaped out of Las Cruces injury free, and there are currently no major suspensions or disciplinary action by Coach Dick Tomey that will hamper SJSU this week versus Boise State.

   

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WHEN BOISE STATE IS ON OFFENSE: Boise State lives and dies with their QB Jared Zabransky.  A Hermiston Oregon product, Zabransky is a very gifted natural athlete, who can just as easily beat you with his legs as he can his arm.  Not a prototypical drop-back passer, he is at his best when he is moving around in the pocket.  Behind Zabransky is Super-Soph Ian Johnson.  Johnson was 2nd on the team in rushing last year, despite being the lone non-senior to get more than a handful of rushes, however he has vaulted to the lead in the WAC, and is 3rd overall in the NCAA in rushing with 1317 total yards, averaging over 130 yards per game, and leading the Broncos Top-5 rated NCAA rushing attack. He leads the NCAA's with 20 rushing TD's.  Johnson is your Jack-of-all-trades rusher, not the fastest, but fast enough, not the strongest, but strong enough.  Boise State also boasts 3 experienced, talented WR's in Jerard Rabb, Legedu Naanee, and Drisan James.  Tight End Derek Schouman has also returned to his former status as a legitimate threat, as he is 4th on the team in receiving and also boasts 3 TD receptions.

 

WHEN SJSU IS ON OFFENSE: The offense has been fairly consistent the past few weeks, with the passing game by Quarterback, Adam Tafralis, staying relatively acceptable. Tafralis played last week versus New Mexico State, and did not throw an interception. But, he will be tested by the tenacity of the Boise defense this week. TB Yonus Davis is a nice change-of-pace back who can break the long run as well as any WAC back, but he's not a workhorse. He is more of a small of shifty back, and if gets good blocking by the SJSU offensive line, he will pose a problem for Boise State. The key to this game will not only be the Spartan Thunder defensive play, but QB, Adam Tafralis' playing more like he did in the first half of this season with confidence and smart decision making under duress.
WHEN BOISE STATE IS ON DEFENSE: Boise State has been known as an offensive juggernaut in recent years, but this year if appears that the strength of the team lies on the other side of the ball.  With only 2 losses to its 2-deep roster from a year ago, the Broncos have the horses to keep most teams frustrated offensively, however just as important as the returning players may be the new coaching philosophy that has been implemented.  While not a new system, the Broncos have openly stated their goal is to become more physical, especially in the defensive backfield.  To accomplish that, CB Gerald Alexander, (6' 208lbs) has moved to safety, joining All-WAC 2nd teamer Marty Tadman.  Orlando Scandrick returns at one CB spot, while the other side now belongs to Redshirt Freshman wunderkind Kyle Wilson. The New Jersey Native had his first start of his young career against Fresno State and promptly led the Broncos in tackles with 11. The LB'rs have been ranked one of the 10 best in the Nation by the Sporting News.  Headlined by 4th year starter Korey Hall and 3rd year starter Colt Brooks, those 2 dynamos have been joined by a 2-headed Sophomore tandem in Kyle Gingg, (6' 220lbs) and David Shields, (6'2 225lbs), but Gingg sat out Fresno State with Mono, and Shields turned an impressive game shouldering all the load. If Gingg is well enough, he will undoubtedly see time once more, but Shields has shown he can handle the pressure if need be. Korey Hall is on more watch-lists than Paris Hilton, yet ironically Brooks might be the more dynamic and vital to the team.  Along the DLine, the Broncos are senior heavy.  All-WAC DT, (and Oregon native) Andrew Browning anchors the line while fellow Senior Dennis Ellis is turning in a monster season, much to the delight of Bronco fans who eagerly awaited his emergence after hearing much about the former Texas A&M signee.  Joining Edwards in the rotation has been Soph Phillip Edwards, who has made incredible strides in his 2nd playing season.  The outside boasts no fewer than a 6-man rotation with Nick Schlekeway, Mike Williams, and Mike Williams, (yes, a pair of Mike Williams') taking the lions share of the snaps.  (Mike G Williams and Mike T Williams).  The Broncos boast one of the youngest Defensive Coordinator's in the Nation in 1st year DC Justin Wilcox, (formerly Cal LB coach), but he is flanked by a bevy of experienced coach, including former Montana State Defensive Coordinator, and BSU All-American Pete Kwiatkowski at DL Coach. WHEN SJSU IS ON DEFENSE: LB Damaja Jones will need to have another big game against an offensively powerful Boise State team. He finished with 12 tackles, including a team-high eight solo stops, two tackles for loss, two pass break-ups, an 11-yard sack and a forced fumble versus New Mexico State last week. DT Freddy McCutcheon is still nursing a coming back from an early-season injury, but played his best game of the season with three solo tackles and a sack. Both the offesnive and defensive sides of the ball along with the special teams have had solid games the last 2 weeks.
BOISE STATE CAN WIN IF: The Broncos can win if the Bronco Offense continues it's consistent play. Jared Zabransky has been stellar, and Ian Johnson has proven that he can run on nearly anybody and handle the load. Once again, the Boise State Offensive and Defensive lines should control the game by dominating the line of scrimmage, but while the trenches should be controlled by the Broncos, SJSU has proven to be tricky and tough at home. If last time we visited San Jose wasn't enough to prove this, this time around the Spartans are vastly improved.. under a proven winner for a Head Coach who has the team believing they can win. That belief is always a dangerous thing, that will make this game much tougher than the talent on the field would indicate. SJSU CAN WIN IF: SJSU had played Boise State at home in the 2004 campaign when the contest went to triple overtime on ESPN2 in San Jose's "historic" Spartan stadium. SJSU was about to break up the Bronco's winning streak, but Boise was able to block the attempt and walk out thinking to themselves "Wow! We barely got out of here with the W!". SJSU will win the game if they come out early and play a great first half. The Spartans have been known as the cardiac kids this year, as their first half play has been relatively quiet, and their second half dominance on defense has stepped up to win the games to date. SJSU must have four great quarters of play in order to break up Boise's BCS party.
BOISE STATE WILL LOSE IF: The Broncos will lose if they allow SJSU to build momentum. Playing in someone else's backyard is always difficult but Boise State has been very successful on the Road in the WAC. However, one of the places that has proven difficult to win is at SJSU. Last time they played, Boise State allowed SJSU to score on long passes early.. Boise State needs to get out early and keep the momentum away from the Spartans. If they don't, there's no telling how this game might end up. SJSU WILL LOSE IF: If SJSU comes out in the first half and fails to execute offensively, Boise will be far enough ahead that they will be able to win the game defensively alone in the second half. This game must be a replay of the 2005 triple overtime game in which SJSU answered each Boise score with a score of their own.
BOISE STATE LINKS:
Two-deeps | Roster | Schedule | Message Boards
SJSU LINKS:
Roster | Schedule | Message Boards
 Kevin Hiatt is the founder of BroncoCountry.com and has been running Boise State fan websites for nearly a decade, much to the chagrin of his wife. Anthony Rocca has been covering San Jose State athletics since 1994 and is the publisher and the Editor-in-Chief of SpartanThunder.com (The #1 San Jose State Fan Site).


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