Paving the Way for Bronco Success

The Boise State offensive line can be talked about in the same sentence as the top offensive lines in the country. They have been the backbone of the Bronco offense that has allowed the Boise State juggernaut to become a high-octane unit. What's in store for 2007? In Day One of the Bronco Football Preview, we look at the hogs up front.

One of the trademarks of the recent run of success for the Bronco football team is the tremendous talent and stability of the offensive line.  As this group goes, so goes the team.  They have paved the way for Brock Forsey, David Mikell, Lee Marks and now Ian Johnson.  They have put up a wall to protect quarterbacks Bart Hendricks, Ryan Dinwiddie and Jared Zabransky.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe o-line has been a tight unit that has sent Matt Hill and Daryn Colledge to the National Football League in the last five years and is poised to give the pros yet another star in Ryan Clady.  Clady, an imposing 6-6, 317-pound junior, has started all but two games in his Boise State career and is already ringing up the honors.  In his sophomore year, he was named Freshman All-America and was a second-team All-America choice last season.  Clady has already been tabbed as a preseason All-American by two publications and is on the Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Watch Lists.


Clady anchors a line that not only was among the best in the nation last season but returns virtually intact for this fall.  Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketGuard Tad Miller (6-4, 296, senior) has started all 38 games of his Bronco career; his dependable play makes Boise State nearly unstoppable on the left side of the line.  Miller is a major reason why the Broncos have ranked in the top 20 nationally in rushing in each of the past three seasons.  In Tad's freshman year, he helped Boise State set a school record with 49 rushing touchdowns and finish second in the nation in scoring (48.9), fourth in total offense (492.7), 14th in rushing (229.8) and 20th in passing (262.8).  The following year, the Broncos were fifth in rushing touchdowns (36), ninth in scoring (36.08) and 19th in rushing (202.46).  Last season, Miller and Boise State was second in the nation in scoring (39.69), second in rushing touchdowns (39), sixth in rushing (214.15) and 10th in total offense (420.62).  Despite that consistent play, Miller has not earned the respect of Western Athletic Conference opponents, who have yet to name him to the All-WAC team.   


As if that wasn't enough to make opposing defensive coordinators cringe, add in another 38-game starter for Boise StatePhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJeff Cavender.  Cavender (6-2, 287, senior) is slated to start at center again after a year at right guard.  Jeff also started all 13 games at center in 2005, showing the amazing flexibility that Boise State has.  Cavender shows the kind of effort that coaches love—he's often 10-15 yards downfield looking for another opponent to mow down like the one that's laying on the ground at the line of scrimmage.  Like Miller, the three consecutive years of running up nationally-competitive numbers have yet to impress fellow WAC schools enough to vote Cavender all-league.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Talk about a big hoss.  Andrew Woodruff (6-3, 328, junior)started the second half of the Louisiana Tech game in 2005 and hasn't let up since.  Simply put, he was playing far too well in practice to keep him on the bench.  Woodruff is a tenacious blocker big enough to occupy all of a big defensive tackle's time and frustrating him in the process.  Woody also has a legitimate shot at the NFL if he can finish with two solid years.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe fifth starter will likely be Dan Gore, who finally has found a home after moving over from the defensive side of the ball.  Gore (6-5, 296, senior) is thriving in his new position and enters the final two weeks of fall ball as the starter at right tackle. 


Pete Cavender (6-2, 293, senior) started the majority of games as a freshman and sophomore, only to miss all of last season with an injury suffered in the summer.  Pete gives Boise State tremendous depth, entering the 2007 season #2 at guard behind Woodruff.  Former Timberline High School star Nate Potter (6-6, 273, freshman) has a promising career ahead of him.  He is good enough to play right now and would certainly figure into the lineup should something happen to one of the starting five.  Senior Jeff Biedermann (6-3, 293) has been a backup at guard for the Broncos and is more than ready should something happen to one of the starters.  Jon Gott (6-3, 286, junior) also has plenty of experience in the program and is the backup to Miller at left guard.  Freshman Mitch Rudder (6-2, 281) out of Skyview High School in Nampa will back up Jeff Cavender at center.  Matt Slater (6-5, 269, freshman) is also on the two-deep at right tackle.   


Who is waiting in the wings to grab attention on the offensive line?  Ben Iannacchione (6-3, 284, junior) came to Boise State in 2005 after transferring from West Virginia.  In high school, Iannacchione was named the #1 offensive lineman in Pennsylvania by the Pittsburgh Tribune, but has yet to crack the starting lineup at Boise State.  Garrett Pendergast (6-3, 275, freshman) was named All-Orange County second team as a senior in high school.  Pendergast will likely redshirt this year.  Big things are expected from Cory Yriarte (6-1, 290, freshman), who was rated as the 12th best center in the nation by for his play at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake, California.  Yriarte was the Ventura County Offensive Lineman of the Year after helping oaks Christian rush for over 3,500 yards and 91 touchdowns and pass for over 3,600 yards and 51 touchdowns.  Yriarte also will likely redshirt but is definitely a name for the future.  Kevin Sapien (6-4, 267) was credited with 61 pancake blocks as a senior at West Torrance High School and is ready to go after redshirting last season. Thomas Byrd (6-0, 290, freshman) was named to the All-East Bay Team as a starter in San Pablo, California and also earned offensive Most Valuable Player, a rare honor for a lineman.  Byrds' team gained 244 yards on the ground last year and featured four 1,000-yard rushers the past two seasons.  Byrd too will redshirt, giving Bronco fans great hope for the future.   Joey Chavez (5-11, 249, freshman) and Sam Doulhit (5-11, 244, freshman) from Eagle High School provide depth.  Zach Waller (6-5, 280, freshman) was part of the great 2007 recruiting class and will redshirt. 


Paul Lucariello (6-4, 273, sophomore) was injured in the preseason and will not be able to play this year.


Boise State likes to go with a "gang of eight" that can start at several positions, giving the coaching staff flexibility.  They will always go with the five most talented linemen and then fit them into the starting lineup.  As scary as it will be for opposing teams, this line will be better than the one last year that paved the way for Heisman Trophy candidate Ian Johnson, scored 39.69 points a game (2nd in the nation) and won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

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