Jerry Smith watches a potential TD pass be tipped away.
|Matt Cilley (AP)|
The Broncos of 2002 used fast starts to bury teams early and destroy their oppositions fight. Saturday saw the Broncos bury the Bengals with speed and depth and they wore them down quickly. The Broncos only had 3 points on the scoreboard until David Mikell scored on a 10 yard run with 3:45 left in the 1st quarter. However, once the scoring started for the Broncos, it didn't stop.
The Broncos scored 31 points in the first half, and just to make things even, scored another 31 in the second half. The Bengals were similarly equal throughout the game, although not in the way that former Bronco Larry Lewis wanted.
Usually when a team scores 62 points in a game, you will want to start off talking about the Offense, but it would be a mistake to start anywhere else but with the Bronco Defense after this game.
The Bronco Defense returned 8 official starters, but Chris Carr played so often last year that he is an honorary starter to most Broncos. That means that there were very few question marks for the Broncos on Defense... on Saturday night, any remaining question marks all turned into resounding exclamation points!!
The Bronco D-Line was one of the biggest question marks with a RSFR starting at one end and only 3 experienced DT's on the team... The 3 incumbent starters, Dane Oldham, Paul Allen, and Julius Roberts were as good as expected, but RSFR DE Mike Williams proved that he is up to the challenge, providing constant pressure on the Bengal QBs. Just as important, Mike Dominguez, (another RSFR DLineman), showed his value to the Bronco Defense, scoring 2 QB sacks.
The most telling stat for the DLine is the net rushing yards for the #10 D1AA team..8 yards.
Wes Nurse makes the INT early in the game.
|Matt Cilley (AP)|
Linebacker is one of the strongest areas for the Broncos with returning starters Travis Burgher and Andy Avalos, but it was RSFR starting MIKE Korey Hall who had the most impressive showing on Saturday. Hall showed why he beat out backups Chris Barrios and Clint Furr (who left the team), in the preseason practices. In on nearly every play, Hall has the speed and hitting ability to make Bronco fans think of former Native Idahoan MIKE, and current Washington Redskin Bryan Johnson. The combination of Hall and Avalos gives the Broncos 2 big-time hitters with outstanding speed who should have opposing OC's scheming for the rest of the season. Watch for Jared Hunter, a tall (6'4) RSFR who backs up Burgher. Hunter pushed Burgher for PT this fall and should slip seamlessly into the starting spot next year.
The Bronco Defensive backfield is deep, fast, and experienced. There is no way around it, the DB's could very well be the strength of the Bronco's this season. Starting CB's Julius Brown and Gabe Franklin are good enough to be put on an island on every play, allowing the LB'rs and Safety's to blitz on nearly every play should they get the call. Safety Wes Nurse has become a legitimate All-WAC Safety, and Chris Carr is a more than adequate replacement for QMike. Nickelback Cam Hall is big at 6' 210lbs, and runs a low 4.4. The backups at CB are Terrial Hall and Gerald Alexander, both of whom are good enough to start on most teams right now, whereas the backup S's are the aforementioned Cam Hall, Deshan Cabaong, and Brad Allen.
Defensive Players to watch: DT Dane Oldham, LB Korey Hall, LB Andy Avalos, CB Gabe Franklin, S Wes Nurse.
The Bronco Offense lost 8 starters from the squad that lead the nation in scoring last year. Time to rebuild right? Well... the jury is still out on that. There are some things that were shown for sure on Saturday though.
QB: Ryan Dinwiddie is still RD. He doesn't throw INT's, he makes the right reads, he throws the ball very hard and very accurately, and he is the unquestioned leader. The backup spot to RD seems to have been won by RSFR Jared Zabransky, a taller, more mobile QB than RD, who despite his youth has become a leader on the squad as well.
RB: The Bronco's are led on the ground by David Mikell. DMike is looking to shine this year after working behind Brock Forsey for 3 years. DMike averaged 6.2 ypc against a Bengal DLine that includes 2 NFL hopeful's. He also showcased his speed on a 43 yard run just before the half. Donny Heck backs up DMike and averaged an even better 7 ypc. The interesting twist at RB is Quinton Jones, a RSFR with [4.3 40 & 10.6-100] speed. QJones gives the Broncos another dimension.
FB: Greg Swenson and Brad Lau. Neither are flashy, but they are both fast, strong, and don't miss their assignments. Lau gave the Broncos a peak at the future, scoring a TD in the 4th quarter by out sprinting the Bengal CB, and then overpowering their Safety to get into the endzone.
TE: The Broncos have a mix of TE's to fit all of their different offensive packages. From 6'5 250lb 5th year Senior blocking TE Kevin Louwsma, to 6'2 True Freshman TE Derek Schouman. Also in the mix is JR Andy Weldon, SR Trent Lundin, and another True Freshman, Sherm Blaser.
|DMike can't bring in the pass early in the game.||
Matt Cilley (AP)
WR: If anything is still unknown about this Bronco team, it is the WR position. The leading receiver, (Tony McPherson), had 3 catches for 71 yards. The bad news, the one known commodity, Tim Gilligan, was injured early in the game and never returned after leaving the game in the 2nd Quarter. The good news, there seem to be a number of options that all had good games and made their cases for the starting spot. SR Jerry Smith from Nampa, ID had a number of balls thrown his way, and came away with a TD, but JR Tony McPherson may have had the best game, leading the team in yardage despite splitting playing time with 7 other WR's. Lawrence Bady pulled in 2 passes, including a long TD pass from 3rd string QB Mike Sanford. Drisan James and Tim Gilligan both also had 2 catches, while the remaining receptions went to RB's and TE's.
What is ironic is that quite possibly the 3 WR's that had the best summer, (outside Gilligan), were silent. JC Transfer Chrisean Christopher is Redshirting, while JC Transfer Mark Onibokun is coming back from an injury and so his play was limited, and Wyoming Transfer Brett Ralph is rehabbing an injured quad and sat out the ISU game. While Christopher will not see game time this year, both Onibokun and Ralph are being counted on to be big contributors. Look for Ralph in the Idaho game as it will be his first game in 3 seasons, (he played at Wyoming as a True Freshman, but then went on a mission).
OL: The Bronco OLine was hit hard by graduation last season. Gone are All-WAC OLinemen (Scooter) Scott Huff, and Rob Vian. Back, however, are starting T's JR Rusty Colburn and SO Daryn Colledge. New to the lineup are SR Center Mike MacLeod, SR Guard Tyrone Tutogi, and JR Guard Mike Ansel. Look for former starter SR Jason Turner and RSFR Ryan Keating to get substantial playing time as well.
Offensive Players to watch: QB Ryan Dinwiddie, RB David Mikell, RB/WR Quinton Jones, WR Tim Gilligan, OT Daryn Colledge.
During the run of success the Broncos have enjoyed over the past 4 years, the special teams have been just that, special... and this year appears no different. K Tyler Jones was 2 for 2 with FG's, hitting from 35 and 43 yards. Jones has hit from 50+ last season, and has rarely has his kickoffs returned.
Having a true Punter is a new experience for the Broncos, but True Freshman Kyle Stringer, (who walked on and earned a scholly during fall practice), is just that. He not only gets 40+ yards per kick, but more importantly gets a lot of air under his kicks.
Kick returning is still a question mark.. but only because the Broncos only received 1 kickoff. Of course, David Mikell did the most with that, going 44 yards.
Punt returning is a joy to watch for the Broncos. Tim Gilligan has been returning punts for 2 seasons, and was one of the leaders in the NCAA last season with over 14 yards per return. However, last night with his injury, Gilligan only returned 2 punts for 49 yards, (1 for 25, 1 for 24), but his replacements were more than adequate. Local walk-on Brad Allen had 6 returns for 88 yards with 1 going 49 yards, and Chris Carr had 1 return, making the most of it with a 48 yard return.
Special Teamers to watch: K/P coverage Brad Allen, K Tyler Jones, KR David Mikell, PR Tim Gilligan.