BSU, OSU rivalry renewed Thursday evening

The fourth meeting between the Broncos and Beavers in as many years kicks off on ESPN Thursday, Sept. 7 at 4:47 p.m. PDT. OSU holds a 4-1 advantage in the series, but BSU has won the last 46 of 48 games at home.

LAST WEEK: After a devastating loss last year to open the season at Georgia, Boise State started the 2006 season with a polar opposite opponent in the Hornets of Sacramento State. Boise State scored on it’s first 4 possessions and didn’t allow SacState a first down until well into the second quarter. Boise State ran a very vanilla offense and still racked up 427 yards, all while holding SacState to 82 total yards and a measly 3 first downs all day. The hot or cold Jared Zabransky started the game red hot, and ended the day 11 of 20 for 181 yards and 2 TD’s, while the heavily counted on Ian Johnson had 89 yards rushing and 2 TD’s on 13 carries.

LAST WEEK: The Oregon State Beavers did almost everything right against Division I-AA Eastern Washington racking up 483 total yards while limiting the Eagles to just 126 total yards in a 56-17 victory. The defense forced EWU into three first half turnovers giving the offense a short field resulting in 28 points in just over 15 minutes of play. The Orange and Black "D" also held the Eagles to just 1 of 13 third down conversions while getting to the quarterback five times. QB Matt Moore completed an efficient 7 of 14 for 88 yards and two touchdowns while TE Joe Newton had a team high five catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. RB Yvenson Bernard rushed 19 times for 124 yards and two scores. Moore and Bernard sat out the second half as the second and third strings took over.

KEY INJURIES:

KEY INJURIES:

WHEN BOISE STATE IS ON OFFENSE: Boise State lives and dies with their QB Jared Zabransky. A Hermiston Oregon product, Zabransky is a very gifted natural athlete, who can just as easily beat you with his legs as he can his arm. Not a prototypical drop-back passer, he is at his best when he is moving around in the pocket. Behind Zabransky is Ian Johnson. Johnson was 2nd on the team in rushing last year, despite being the lone non-senior to get more than a handful of rushes. Johnson if your Jack-of-all-trades rusher, not the fastest, but fast enough, not the strongest, but strong enough. Ironically it was at Oregon State last year where Ian came into his own, leading the Broncos in rushing and absorbing one of the nastiest hits a Bronco RB has taken in recent years, only to shrug it off and turning negative yards into a positive run. Boise State returns it’s QB, top rusher, top receiver (Jerard Rabb), and all TD producers from last years game. Also look for TE Derek Schouman and WR’s Drisan James and Legedu Naanee to have an impact on the game. WHEN OREGON STATE IS ON OFFENSE: The bread and butter of the offense is the running game where the starting offensive line has combined for almost 100 starts. Perhaps the most talented lineman is sophomore left guard Jeremy Perry who leads the charge on many of the running plays. The entire line is built for mobility and they take great pride in their work ethic, technique and aggressive blocking. And speaking of blocking, for the first time in the second Riley era, the team used a fullback, freshman Micah Strickland, in many of their short yardage formations. RB Yvenson Bernard is one of the nation's best kept secrets after racking up over 1300 yards last season. The junior looked fantastic against EWU, using his blocks and weaving through defenders. Despite completing just 50% of his passes, QB Matt Moore turned in a perfect 2006 debut as far as Beaver fans are concerned: no picks. His backup Sean Canfield did receive plenty of repititions last week and if Moore struggles, don't be surprised to see Canfield in the game. The quarterback's favorite target is senior TE Joe Newton (6-7, 256) who set a school record for career touchdowns by a tight end (10) last week. Juniors Sammie Stroughter and Anthony Wheat-Brown man the split end and flanker spots, respectively. Stroughter is expected to have a big year while Wheat-Brown is one of the better athletes on the team who can battle for deep passes. Slot receiver Brandon Powers received his first start last Thursday. Speedy senior receiver Ruben Jackson is the first off of the bench as the coaches like to get the ball in his hands in the open field and on reverses. JUCO transfers Shane Morales and quick Chris Johnson are two other receivers to keep your eye on.
WHEN OREGON STATE HAS THE BALL: Boise State has been known as an offensive juggernaut in recent years, but this year if appears that the strength of the team lies on the other side of the ball. With only 2 losses to it’s 2-deep roster from a year ago, the Broncos have the horses to keep most teams frustrated offensively, however just as important as the returning players may be the new coaching philosophy that has been implemented. While not a new system, the Broncos have openly stated their goal is to become more physical, especially in the defensive backfield. To accomplish that, CB Gerald Alexander, (6’ 208lbs) has moved to safety, joining All-WAC 2nd teamer Marty Tadman. Orlando Scandrick returns at one CB spot, while the other side is manned alternately by 2 former starters, Austin Smith and Quinton Jones. The LB’rs have been ranked one of the 10 best in the Nation by the Sporting News. Headlined by 4th year starter Korey Hall and 3rd year starter Colt Brooks, those 2 dynamos are joined by a 2-headed Sophomore tandem in Kyle Gingg, (6’ 220lbs) and David Shields, (6’2 225lbs). Hall is on more watch-lists than Paris Hilton, yet ironically Brooks might be the more dynamic and vital to the team. Along the DLine, the Broncos are senior heavy. All-WAC DT, (and Oregon native) Andrew Browning anchors the line while new to the rotation Soph Phillip Edwards has made incredible strides to start opposite him. The outside boasts no fewer than a 6-man rotation with Nick Schlekeway, Mike Williams, and Mike Williams, (yes, a pair of Mike Williams’) taking the lions share of the snaps. (Mike G Williams and Mike T Williams). The Broncos boast one of the youngest Defensive Coordinator’s in the Nation in 1st year DC Justin Wilcox, (formerly Cal LB coach), but he is flanked by a bevy of experienced coach, including former Montana State, (Colorado anyone) Defensive Coordinator, and BSU All-American Pete Kwiatkowski at OL Coach. WHEN BOISE STATE HAS THE BALL: A lot has changed from a year ago. Two of the three linebackers got their first starts against Eastern Washington while the defensive line, especially the ends, is still looking for that playmaker. The secondary, whom the Broncos have picked on, returns all its starters from last year although CB Brandon Hughes will sit out this contest. SS Sabby Piscitelli has settled into his role and is not trying to do too much which puts him in a better position to intercept passes, something he does very well. He has 11 career interceptions, the most of any active NCAA player. Sophomore free safety Al Afalava is slowly making a name for himself with his solid hits. The corners are manned by sophomore Keenan Lewis and junior college transfer Coye Francies. Lewis is developing into a lockdown corner who is very physical at the line of scrimmage, but he may be slowed by a nagging ankle injury. Francies received his first Division I start and was not challenged much by the Eagles. The linebackers are led by SLB Derrick Doggett, who is one of the fastest 'backers on the team, MLB Alan Darlin, a run stopping specialist, and WLB Joey LaRocque, a junior college transfer who received his first start Thursday and is a mix between Doggett and Darlin. The defensive line had a difficult time getting pressure on Zabransky a year ago and that may be the case this year as well. Senior Ben Siegert (6-4, 288) and junior Curtis Coker (6-1, 309) are solid in the middle and helped hold EWU to -14 rushing. Gerard Lee and Pernell Booth are also in the rotation at the tackle positions. On the ends are senior Joe Lemma and junior Jeff Van Orsow, who each recorded a sack last week but still have a lot to prove. Junior college transfer Dorian Smith is in the rotation, but is still adjusting to D-I ball while sophomore Victor Butler is pushing for playing time.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Boise State has been a Special Teams demon over the past 7 seasons, and this year looks to be much of the same. Returner Quinton Jones has been named All-American by no fewer than 3 publications, (Athlon (2nd Team), Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook (1st Team), SI (Honorable Mention). Jones had 2 punt returns for TD’s last year cover 90+ yards, including one against Boston College in the MPC Bowl to spark the Bronco come-back that fell just-short. On the kicking scene, Senior Punter Kyle Stringer has one of the strongest legs you’ll see in a 5’8 player. Routinely pushing over 4 seconds on hang-time, Stringer is a definite weapon who also doubles as the Bronco’s kick-off man. Kicker Anthony Montgomery is a solid albeit not spectacular kicker. Accuracy seems to be his biggest obstacle. SPECIAL TEAMS: PR Sammie Stroughter already has a touchdown to his credit as he took a punt 51-yards for six points against EWU. He makes good decisions on when to catch a punt and is a dangerous north and south runner. The punt return unit was outstanding opening up running lanes. Junior Alexis Serna returns after winning the 2005 Lou Groza Award. He has made 69 consecutive extra points, but missed a 48-yard attempt wide right last week. The kickoff return unit only received two chances against the Eagles averaging 20 yards per return. The largest concern on the team is at punter where freshman Kyle Loomis sits. The Oregon native received his first start and boomed his first punt for 43 yards. He also had a 41 yarder, but turned in punts of 10 and 16 yards. He outkicked his coverage on the 41 yarder which resulted in a 60-yard touchdown return for Eastern Washington.
BOISE STATE CAN WIN IF: Jared Zabransky has less than two turnovers. One turnover and the Broncos should be able to withstand the pressure. This team is talented enough to play Oregon State pretty-much straight up on the road, but at home the Broncos seem to play in another dimension. The team is 45-2 on the blue since 1999, with those 2 losses coming to a Top-10 Washington State team in 2001 by 21 points, and a Top 25 Boston College Team in 2005 by 6. OREGON STATE CAN WIN IF: They control the clock with the running game keeping the ball out of Zabransky's hands and the fans in their seats. With questions on the defensive line, OSU's best defensive strategy is to let their experienced offensive line and running back grind it out on the ground keeping the pressure off of the Beaver defense and the ball out from the Bronco offense.
BOISE STATE WILL LOSE IF: Jared Zabransky throws more than 1 INT or has more than 1 fumble. It is unfair to put all of the pressure on 1 player, but such is the nature of the QB position. When Z plays within the gameplan, Boise State is very, very tough to beat at home. The last time Oregon State and Boise State played in Boise in 2004, it was technically a ‘rebuilding’ year for the Broncos, now all those star-struck sophomores are battle-hardened Seniors. Oregon State could very well win this game without the Broncos helping them with turnovers...but history has shown those situations be rare. OREGON STATE WILL LOSE IF: The time of possession between the Broncos and Beavers are similar and Zabransky is allowed 30 plus passing attempts. A similar time of possession would mean the Beavers had trouble running the ball which resulted in giving the Bronco offense more opportunities to score. The Beavers will also lose if the Bronco special teams return a punt or kick for a touchdown or give the offense a short field to work with via a return or blocked kick. Oregon State has lost its last four non-conference away games (Fresno State, LSU, Boise State, Louisville).
BOISE STATE LINKS:
Two-deeps | Roster | Schedule | Message Boards
OREGON STATE LINKS:
Two-deeps | Roster | Schedule | Message Boards
Kevin Hiatt may be a Vale, Oregon native, but he’s followed the Broncos since watching their come from behind D1AA Championship win in 1980.
Dan Norz is the publisher of BeaverFootball.com and, yes, he still loves the wishbone offense.

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