THE SHADOW OVER Boise State has lifted somewhat with the hiring of Bryan Harsin from Arkansas State but that's about next year and beyond, it doesn't much change the near term -- a Sheraton Bowl matchup with Oregon State. So let's talk about what's in store for the Beavs come Dec. 24 (ESPN, 5 p.m.)
The Beavers will be facing a Boise State
team that was shorter on talent than recent years. Boise State is 8-4, their worst regular season record since 2005.
Exacerbating things, the Broncos were hit with a good number of injuries, exposing depth that either wasn't ready or, again, wasn't as talented as the talking heads said they were headed into the 2013 campaign.
The biggest BSU injury was felt at quarterback, where Joe Southwick
had surgery on Oct. 21 to repair a broken ankle. He actually played the first series in the Broncos' regular season finale but it was clearly because it was Senior Day and it's up in the air if he'll play in the bowl game according to multiple reports. Southwick is 151-208 for 1,654 yards with 12 TDs.
out of Independence, Ore. has been the man behind center for BSU in his absence and has completed 68.2 percent of his throws (135-198) for 1,443 yards with 15 touchdowns against five INTs. The favorite target for the two QBs this season has been Matt Miller
(77 rec., 934 yards, 11 TDs).
But the Beavs figure to see a whole lot of running back Jay Ajayi
, who averages 111 hashes per game on the ground and is 17th in the country in rushing. Boise State ran the ball more than 55 percent of the time this season (525 of 947 plays.)
Over on defense, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence
(10.5 sacks) and linebacker Ben Weaver
(team-leading 86 tackles) are the headliners but the real story is Boise State's inability to consistently get off the field.
The Broncos rank 82nd in third-down conversion defense out of 123 FBS teams. On first down defensively, they rank 98th. Boise State shows up well in the rankings when it comes to red zone defense but they're 73rd in total defense and if you've watched their games, they don't seem to have the same spark in the fourth quarter this season.
Harsin will not coach Arkansas State's bowl game which allows him to begin working and recruiting for BSU now, but it's very rare for an incoming coach to also coach the bowl game at his new gig.
Interim BSU coach Bob Gregory will be there through Dec. 24 but Chris Petersen has declined to comment on which of his staff members will join him in Seattle (it has been reported RBs coach Keith Bhonapha is a slam dunk to head to UW and that he was the lone assistant not at practice last week.)
It figures more BSU assistants will make the move this coming week, Petersen has said he hopes to have his staff in place by the end of next week. It also seems likely some of those leaving will remain with Boise State through the bowl game. And that naturally opens up all kinds of possibilities for distraction.
Harsin previously worked at Boise State from 2001 to 2010 and was offensive coordinator for the Broncos from 2006 to 2010 before being hired by Texas three years ago. He was co-offensive coordinator at Texas prior to replacing current Auburn coach Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State.
By the way, no one has been screwed over more than Arkansas State the last three years. The Red Wolves have had three straight one-season-and-buh-bye head coaches: Hugh Freeze, Malzahn and Harsin.