Hype Dreams

The second of BroncoCountry's Time Capsule articles in the 45-Day Countdown looks at the Boise State team of 2005.

Boise State 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 Series ( BCS ) 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 go unbeaten.  

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 Georgia inundated the BroncoCountry message boards with posts about how Boise State would not be able to handle the high September humidity in Georgia .   

In a much-hyped season opener, Boise State and Georgia 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 Georgia , 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 Atlanta International Airport and then the short drive to Athens 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.  Boise State 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.  

On Boise State '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 Georgia fans went crazy.  "I knew these Broncos are not that good," they must have thought.   

Georgia 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?  

Shockley led Georgia 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 Boise State into Georgia 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 Georgia deep.  

Zabransky dropped back and did a quick "jump pass" to fool the Georgia 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 Georgia 14, Boise State 0.  

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 Georgia 35.  Despite the early butterflies, Boise State 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.  Georgia was forced to punt on the ensuing possession, so this turnover didn't add points to Georgia 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 on, Georgia 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 Georgia to have any chance of winning.  They did in fact stiffen up and forced Brandon Coutu to kick a field goal.   

Once again, Boise State moved the ball on its next possession.  Lee Marks and Ian Johnson both ripped through the Georgia 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 34.  Again, Boise State was in range for a Montgomery field goal if need be.  He would never get a chance as Georgia safety Greg Blue was the recipient of Zabransky interception #4.   

Even after an extended time on the field the Bronco defense forced Georgia into a punt for the fourth consecutive time.  Two consecutive completions gave Boise State a first down on their own 31.  But Zabransky fumbled again and Georgia recovered on the 20.  It was then that a Georgia fan next to me called a friend on his cell phone.  "You know that Top 15 ranking that Boise State 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 Boise State 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 ahead of Oregon State State 14-0 in Corvallis the following week, the Broncos relaxed on that lead.  When Boise State failed to convert inside the OSU 10 instead of kicking a field goal, the Broncos limped into halftime with only a 20-17 advantage.  Oregon State 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 Boise State 30-27.  

Boise State 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 Bowling Green , 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 Bowling Green possession.  Jacobs opened the season with 458 yards against Wisconsin and 428 versus Ball State , with five TD's in each game. Jacobs threw two fourth-quarter TD's against Boise State '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 rushing.  

Up next, Boise State faced Colt Brennan and Hawai'i 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.  

Boise State faced FCS team Portland State 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 once.   

"You have to understand—this is a different Boise State 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 Boise State to a 38-21 victory at home over San Jose State .  The Bronco defense atoned for their performance against Portland State by only allowing 52 yards rushing vs. the Spartans.  

The Broncos traveled to Logan and blew out Utah State State 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 Boise State with 84 yards rushing while Naanee had four catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-14 win over Nevada .  

The Broncos exploded for a 56-6 victory over New Mexico State .  Boise State scored six rushing touchdowns and was led by Lee Marks who gained 112 yards and a TD on 18 carries.  Boise State was getting their swagger back.  

They lost it one week later.  For the only time in nine games vs. Fresno State , Boise State 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 Fresno 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 Idaho .  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 Ruston , Louisiana .  Trailing 10-7 at halftime, Boise State rebounded for a 30-13 win over Louisiana Tech.  Johnson ran for 103 yards and the final touchdown.  

Meanwhile, Fresno State suffered two late-season setbacks and the Broncos actually finished the season sharing the league title with Nevada .  Boise State would go to the MPC Bowl and it's first-ever matchup with a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference ( Boston College ).   

In a season with far too much drama for Bronco fans, beloved Head Coach Hawkins, who had said things like "I'm all about Boise State " and "Bigger isn't better, better is better" accepted an offer from Colorado prior to the MPC Bowl game.   

Schools handle these situations differently and in this circumstance, Hawkins was allowed to coach against Boston College .  It turned out to be a big mistake.  Boise State 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 Boise State was on the board.  The Bronco defense that had given up 24 first-half points did not allow the Golden Eagles a thing and Boston College had to settle for one field goal in the second half.   

83/831621.jpg Boise State 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 one out.  Boise State was within six points at 27-21 with 3:51 remaining.   

Could Boise State 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.   

Boise State 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 Boston College caught the ball thrown right to him.  

The Georgia 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 Boise State can learn something from it, it was not all for naught. 

 

  1. It 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.

  2. The team is far more important than the individual.  To his credit, Zabransky admitted that he was trying to be the star of the Georgia game rather than let the game come to him.  The Georgia debacle should forever serve as a reminder of what happens when an individual becomes more important than the team.

  3. No 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.

  4. A 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.

 

 

 

 

2005-Boise State (WAC)

9/3

@

Georgia (10-3)

L

13

48

 

 

9/10

@

Oregon State (5-6)

L

27

30

 

 

9/21

vs.

Bowling Green State (6-5)

W

48

20

 

 

10/1

@

*Hawaii (5-7)

W

44

41

 

 

10/8

vs.

Portland State (non-IA)

W

21

14

 

 

10/15

vs.

*San Jose State (3-8)

W

38

21

 

 

10/22

@

*Utah State (3-8)

W

45

21

 

 

10/29

vs.

*Nevada (9-3)

W

49

14

 

 

11/5

vs.

*New Mexico State (0-12)

W

56

6

 

 

11/10

@

*Fresno State (8-5)

L

7

27

 

 

11/19

vs.

*Idaho (2-9)

W

70

35

 

 

11/26

@

*Louisiana Tech (7-4)

W

30

13

 

 

12/28

vs.

Boston College (9-3)

L

21

27

@ Boise , ID

MPC Computers Bowl

 

9-4-0

 

469

317

 

 

 

 


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