The second of BroncoCountry's Time Capsule articles in the 45-Day Countdown looks at the Boise State team of 2005.
entered the 2005 college football season in much the same way that they do this
fall.They were coming off an
unbeaten regular season with hopes of possibly reaching the Bowl Championship
) Championship game.
The Broncos had proven they belonged in the Top 10 with
their performance against another Top 10 team--Lousiville in the 2004 Liberty Bowl.After
three consecutive years of finishing in the nation's Top 15, Boise State felt
that with the schedule (road games at Georgia and Oregon State to open the
season), they had a legitimate chance of reaching the title game if they could
Just like this summer, expectations were sky high in the
off-season of 2005.Quarterback
Jared Zabransky would be a junior following a stellar sophomore season.Tackle Daryn Colledge would be a senior and the Broncos would be counting
on his leadership to keep the team in line.All though the summer, fans from
inundated the BroncoCountry message boards with posts about how
would not be able to handle the high September humidity in
In a much-hyped season opener,
would meet for the first time on a college football field.This great game featured two Top 15 teams.If Coach Dan Hawkins' team could beat
, they would be in the Top 10 immediately and would be ready to make their move
up the rankings.
Thousands of Bronco fans made the long trip to
and then the short drive to
from there.I hooked up with Beef
Zerkie and his wife and we had dinner that night, excited about the prospects.After a good night's sleep, we prepared for the big day ahead.
It was definitely hot and humid.I stayed in the shade by the concessions area behind the stadium as long
as I could.Finally as Game time was
approaching I abandoned that precious shade and found my seat.
was out to prove it belonged on the national scene, a huge crowd was on hand in
Sanford Stadium and the Broncos were about to face off against legendary Georgia
Between the Hedges.
's first play from center, Zabransky took a short drop and tried to rifle the
ball between four Bulldog defenders to a receiver just past the line of
scrimmage.Intercepted!Linebacker Tony Taylor picked off the Zabransky pass that was thrown
right to him.The
fans went crazy."I knew these
Broncos are not that good," they must have thought.
took over and ‘Dawg fans were anxious to see how D.J. Shockley would do at
quarterback.Shockley was finally
getting a chance to start after backing up record-breaking QB David Greene for
three years.Shockley had a short
field to work with as he came up to the line.What better way to break in a new starting quarterback?
down the field with ease on a four-play drive, scoring on a 14-yard keeper to
put his team up early 7-0.Still
confident, Bronco fans stood up and cheered wildly on the kickoff."We'll get it back—no worries."Or so we thought.
And when Jeff Carpenter promptly shot up the middle for 10
yards and Lee Marks followed that with an 11-yard gain, it looked like the
Broncos we knew and believed in.Two
more runs would bring
territory with a third-and-six.No
need to get cute here, especially against that strong Bulldog defense.Even if the Broncos didn't pick up the first down, ace punter Kyle
Stringer was ready and more than capable of pinning
Zabransky dropped back and did a quick "jump pass" to
defense.Unfortunately, the only
person in the entire stadium that was fooled was Zabransky.Dannell Ellerbe was right there to get the pick on a ball thrown right at
him.Two Zabransky passes.Two interceptions.
Shockley again led a quick four-play drive to paydirt,
culminating in a 40-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Harris.Bronco defensive back Gerald Alexander, who had a tremendous vertical
leap, seemed lost and by the time he was in position he mistimed his jump and
the ball floated past his outstretched fingers into the hands of Harris.An extra point later, it was
Zabransky hit Jerard Rabb for 13 yards to the Bronco 38 for
his first completion.Bronco fans
breathed a sigh of relief.Three
plays later, Stringer had to punt but on the ensuing runback, Derek Schouman
forced a fumble and the Broncos recovered on the
35.Despite the early butterflies,
had shown they could run the football on this great Southeastern Conference
team and had a chance to get back in the game.
Unfortunately it wasn't to be.One play later though, Zabransky fumbled the ball, Quentin Moses pounced
on it and the golden opportunity was wasted.
was forced to punt on the ensuing possession, so this turnover didn't add
as much as it potentially took points away from the Broncos.Reliable kicker Anthony Montgomery was about 10 yards away from an easy
field goal at the time of Zabransky's third turnover.
The two teams traded punts and the Broncos were yet again
in business following a 26-yard pass from Zabransky to Legedu Naanee.Tra Battle baited Zabransky into another interception on the next play
and after a 17-yard return with a 15-yard personal foul by Dennis Ellis tacked
would start their next possession on the Bronco 26.
The Bronco defense was hardly to blame for the early
results but it was apparent now that they would have to hold
to have any chance of winning.They
did in fact stiffen up and forced Brandon Coutu to kick a field goal.
Once again, Boise
moved the ball on its next possession.Lee
Marks and Ian Johnson both ripped through the
defense for seven yards each, Zabransky tucked it and ran for 10 more and a
Zabransky pass to Jeff Carpenter gave the Broncos a first down on the Bulldog
was in range for a
field goal if need be.He would
never get a chance as
safety Greg Blue was the recipient of Zabransky interception #4.
Even after an extended time on the field the Bronco defense
into a punt for the fourth consecutive time.Two consecutive completions gave
a first down on their own 31.But
Zabransky fumbled again and
recovered on the 20.It was then
fan next to me called a friend on his cell phone."You know that Top 15 ranking that
has?The #26 team is getting ripped
off!"I was doing my best to think
of a response but could just sit in silence, especially when Shockley hit Danny Ware in the end zone on the next play for a 24-0 halftime lead.
Taylor Tharp replaced Zabransky in the second half and was
5-7 for 53 yards.The Broncos had no
chance, however.Why did
coach Dan Hawkins wait until Zabransky had turned it over six times in the
first half to replace him?Simple.The Bronco coaches had put all their marbles on Zabransky and Tharp
hadn't been given the practice repetitions—he was not ready.
The Broncos were schooled on that hot and humid afternoon
48-13.Their pride had been
sufficiently rocked.Despite going
the following week, the Broncos relaxed on that lead.When
failed to convert inside the OSU 10 instead of kicking a field goal, the
Broncos limped into halftime with only a 20-17 advantage.
had the momentum, the home crowd, and even a little hometown hail thrown in.The Beavers came out the second half and took the game away from
had opened the season with two games on the road for the first time in their
history and it did not work out too well.The
Broncos finally got to play a game at home against
, which had nearly knocked off Top 25 Wisconsin the week before.The Falcons featured quarterback Omar Jacobs and Bronco fans pumped up
the volume on each and every
possession.Jacobs opened the
season with 458 yards against
and 428 versus
, with five TD's in each game. Jacobs threw two fourth-quarter TD's against
's reserves in a 48-20 Bronco win.Lee
Marks had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early, Zabransky was 16-23
for 202 yards and some freshman named Ian Johnson led the team with 85 yards
faced Colt Brennan and
on the islands and a wild one from start to finish.In a game that featured a thrill a minute, the Broncos prevailed 44-41.Quinton Jones broke a Bronco record with a 92-yard punt return for a
touchdown and Orlando Scandrick returned two blocked kicks by Daryn Colledge
(one on a field goal, the other on a PAT) in what I believe is the only time
that has ever happened in college football.
and the game hung in the balance the entire four quarters when the Broncos
prevailed 21-14.Little Joe Rubin
destroyed the Bronco defense with 151 yards rushing although he would score just
"You have to understand—this is a different
team than last year," Colledge would say.Bronco fans could not understand that statement since it was nearly
exactly the same team as the 2004 team that went unbeaten in the regular season.It was, of course the same players but the chemistry was gone and no
doubt that was what Colledge was referring to.Let that be a reminder for every Bronco team in the future.No matter how good the talent is, you have to work for it; no one is
going to give it to you.
Zabransky was 20-27 for 249 yards in leading
to a 38-21 victory at home over
.The Bronco defense atoned for
their performance against
by only allowing 52 yards rushing vs. the Spartans.
The Broncos traveled to
and blew out
45-21.Zabransky threw for 328
yards and four touchdowns to lead his team.Carpenter caught seven passes for 99 yards and Drisan James added five
receptions for 91.Johnson again led
with 84 yards rushing while Naanee had four catches for 70 yards and two
touchdowns in a 49-14 win over
The Broncos exploded for a 56-6 victory over
scored six rushing touchdowns and was led by Lee Marks who gained 112 yards and
a TD on 18 carries.
was getting their swagger back.
They lost it one week later.For the only time in nine games vs.
was thoroughly dismantled by the Bulldogs.Jeff Carpenter burst loose for a 67-yard run early and things were going
well.That would be the only
highlight for the blue and orange that day as
came away with a 27-7 win.
Austin Smith's 39-yard return of a fumble recovery in the
second half keyed a second-half Bronco surge in a 70-35 thumping of
.Jones had another punt return for
a touchdown (this one 73 yards) to lead the special teams and Bronco running
backs overpowered the Vandals for six touchdowns.
The Broncos had to make one of the toughest road trips in
the WAC by going to
.Trailing 10-7 at halftime,
rebounded for a 30-13 win over Louisiana Tech.Johnson
ran for 103 yards and the final touchdown.
suffered two late-season setbacks and the Broncos actually finished the season
sharing the league title with
would go to the MPC Bowl and it's first-ever matchup with a team from the
Atlantic Coast Conference (
In a season with far too much drama for Bronco fans,
beloved Head Coach Hawkins, who had said things like "I'm all about
" and "Bigger isn't better, better is better" accepted an offer from
prior to the MPC Bowl game.
Schools handle these situations differently and in this
circumstance, Hawkins was allowed to coach against
.It turned out to be a big mistake.
came out flat and unprepared and fell behind 27-0 on the strength of three
Matthew Ryan touchdown passes.
Late in the third quarter, the skies erupted with a
downpour.In that instant, Bronco
players and fans alike appeared to finally wake up.Zabransky hit James with a 53-yard score and
was on the board.The Bronco
defense that had given up 24 first-half points did not allow the Golden Eagles a
had to settle for one field goal in the second half.
scored on their next opportunity early in the fourth quarter when Zabransky
carried it in from two yards out.When
Jones shook loose from a couple of BC tacklers at the eight-yard line, sprinted
up the east sideline and made one more move to score another 92-yard punt
return, Bronco fans went wild and truly believed they were going to pull this
was within six points at 27-21 with
pull out some magic in what was anything but a magical year?The Broncos flew into Eagle territory with a brilliant pass that
Zabransky floated past two defenders into the hands of Vinny Perretta, who went
out of bounds on the 13 with just seconds left.
called for tight end Schouman to run a pattern over the middle in the end zone.Zabransky went back to pass and threw the ball to where Schouman was
supposed to be.Only Derek never got
there; his motion had been impeded and Ryan Glasper of
caught the ball thrown right to him.
game had seemed so long ago.It was
a wild year that provided many positive moments.Yet the last offensive play of the season ended exactly like the first
one did—an opposing player caught a pass thrown right to him.
There are numerous things to be learned from the 2005
season and that is why we go back to relive past years in the 30-Day Countdown.If
can learn something from it, it was not all for naught.
is a cliché, but what happens in the previous season cannot be carried over
into the next one, no matter how many starters return for you.
There is a reason that people say that everyone starts out with 0-0
records.Teamwork and chemistry
are far more important than returning starters.In fact, an unbeaten team must work that much harder during the
following off-season because the target is much that bigger.
team is far more important than the individual.To his credit, Zabransky admitted that he was trying to be the star
game rather than let the game come to him.The
debacle should forever serve as a reminder of what happens when an
individual becomes more important than the team.
matter how much coaches believe in a player, they should always have a
"Plan B".Despite their
confidence in a quarterback, they should be fully prepared to bring in
another at any moment in any game.
9-4 season is highly successful in any book.The fact that Bronco fans were disappointed by the 2005 season shows
what can happen when expectations are too high.The team, the coaches, the players and the fans all got caught up in
the hype and egos got inflated.