Saturday, March 31, 2012

Broncos Ready to Reload at Running Back

After producing Doug Martin, arguably the nation's best and most durable running back, Boise State is ready to unleash new talent on the gridiron this fall.

D.J. Harper (5-9, 201) was granted a sixth year of eligibility due to injuries that kept him out of most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and the Texas Tornado is prepared to make the most of it.  Harper has run for 1,655 yards and 24 touchdowns in essentially three seasons of action and is the man in the Bronco backfield.  Harper ranks 9th in school history in rushing touchdowns and is 15th in career rushing yards.

Yet the Bronco way has never been built on one guy.  Now that Martin has shown what a Boise State running back can do and likely will become the second Bronco back to be drafted in the second round, the opportunity is there for someone to begin building a case for becoming the next great Bronco runner to reach the NFL.

Devan Demas (5-9, 176) and Jack Fields were members of the amazing Bronco recruiting class of 2012, and at least one of those will likely play as a true freshman.  Interestingly enough, Fields is a lot like Doug Martin in that he has great speed but can also hit the inside holes with power, while Demas is similar to Harper, a guy with breakneck speed on the outside.  Demas, from Harper's Cypress Creek High School in Texas, accumulated 2,114 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns in earning All-District as a senior.  

Fields (5-10, 196) was a three-year starter at Americas High School in El Paso, Texas.  He earned second team All-Texas after rushing 280 times for 2,478 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior.  Fields was also named co-Most Valuable Player at the Texas 5A level.  Can you imagine trying to stop the duo of Demas and Fields?  Much like stopping the duo of Martin and Harper.  Again, at least one will likely play this fall and perhaps both--tough to keep them off the field.

Drew Wright (5-9, 201) returns for his senior season after enjoying his most productive season for the Broncos.  Wright gained 218 yards and scored three times last year for the #6 Broncos.

Raphiel Lambert (5-7, 205) found it tough to break through the depth chart but with Martin gone, he might get a chance to show what he can do.  Lambert carried 199 times for 1,741 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior in high school, an amazing 7.4 yards per carry.  That is the talent level Boise State has in reserve.

Jay Ajayi (6-0, 211) was the heir apparent at running back until off-the-field problems got in his way and given the talent of Demas and Fields, he may be hard-pressed to resume his place in the pecking order.  Ajayi came in as one of the nation's top running backs in 2011 after rushing for 2,240 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior.  But one thing we are blessed with in Boise is a coach of the high caliber of Chris Petersen, who knows that men are not judged by their statistics but rather their character, and Ajayi is finding that out.  

Phillip Hogan (5-6, 163) walked on to the program and redshirted last season.  Hogan earned all-conference honors while rushing for 500 yards as a senior in Honolulu, Hawai'i.  

Fullback Dan Paul (6-0, 251) was one of the most missed players last season--the Broncos could have used one more block last year on several key plays, especially in the lone loss against TCU.  Paul had to sit out the entire season battling back from injury and his absence showed how great he is.  Paul doesn't carry the ball often, but his value in blocking and receiving makes him one of the great unsung heroes at Boise State.  I say unsung meaning the outside world, for any Bronco fan knows how great Paul is.

Armand Nance played mostly tight end in high school but Coach Petersen knows the value of having a beast like Nance in the backfield and he will at least begin his career at fullback.  People that talk about Boise State losing starters from last year's team have no idea of the talent such as Nance that is waiting in the wings.  The 6-2, 245-pound machine of destruction will wreak havoc on opponents, perhaps as early as this season.

Jamal Wilson (6-1, 240) played linebacker in high school but  he'll be another Clydesdale in the Bronco backfield.

You can't replace a Doug Martin--he was one of the best backs ever to put on a Bronco uniform, but looking at the four-deep for Boise State at running back this fall and adding a healthy Dan Paul, the team is in excellent hands.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Draft Countdown Projecting Shea McClellin and Doug Martin to Go in Second Round

The Draft Countdown, which is one of several web sites that do "mock" drafts of the upcoming NFL Draft, now show both Shea McClellin and Doug Martin going in the second round.

Walter Football agrees with that, and they extend the Mock Draft through five rounds.  According to them, Billy Winn will be drafted in the third round and George Iloka, Tyrone Crawford and Nate Potter will be chosen in the fourth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pro Day Tomorrow at Boise State

Tomorrow is the day that Boise State seniors will be able to show one final time why they are the best choice for NFL teams in the upcoming Draft.  The seven Broncos invited to the NFL Combine already showed what they can do--now it will be up to the other seniors to land a spot in the NFL.

Inside Look at the Boise State Receivers

Blue Football Through and Through has already previewed the Boise State offensive line for next season and found the unit to be in excellent shape.  What about the receivers?

The Broncos lost just one wide receiver in senior Tyler Shoemaker.  Everyone else returns and with that experience, and some new Broncos ready to take action this fall, the Boise State wide receivers should be better than they were last year.  

Junior Geraldo Boldewijn (6-4, 200) and freshman sensation Matt Miller (6-3, 213) both return as starters for Offensive Coordinator Robert Prince.  Prince could be the best OC Boise State has ever had.  Let me repeat that--Prince could be the best in a long line of great coordinators for Boise State.  He not only has the experience, having coached in the NFL, but has the creativity in play-calling and I get the sense that the players relate to him.  Miller was on several Freshman All-America teams and shattered Titus Young and Austin Pettis's school records for receptions, yards and touchdowns by a freshman.  Boldewijn got better as he went through the 2011 season and Boise State is counting on him to really blossom this fall.  Together, that height is going to be hard to cover for opposing cornerbacks.

The real news out of Spring camp is that Kirby Moore is having a great camp.  The 6-2, 204 junior is coming into his own and very likely could be the third starter at wide receiver.  Senior Chris Potter (5-9, 156) will have something to say about that, but right now, most people believe Moore will win out.  Senior Mitch Burroughs (5-9, 186) and brother Dallas Burroughs (5-9, 172, So.) give the unit speed and no matter who starts, count on this brotherly tandem to see a lot of action.  Junior Aaron Burks (6-2, 191) gives Boise State more experience.

Troy Ware (6-1, 185) redshirted his freshman year but is another talented wideout that is said to be doing very well in practice.  Ware has great hands and if he steps it up, the receiving corps will be so good that the job for whomever starts at quarterback will be much easier.  Don't be surprised to see freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes either.  With the seven talented receivers ahead of him, the Broncos certainly don't need to burn Rhodes' redshirt.  But with his ability at punt and kickoff returns and excellence in running reverses, Rhodes is the kind of player you want on the field as soon as possible.  He has the speed to make opponents pay, whether they be Nevada or Michigan State, and that is something coaches like.

Senior Tyler Jackson (6-0, 191) will also look to break through for playing time this fall, with incoming recruit D.J. Dean (6-1, 180) likely to either grayshirt or redshirt.  Hilton Richardson (6-3, 215) is another freshman in reserve.  

So the options are many for Prince and Bronco head man Chris Petersen.  There can be no doubt that the Bronco receivers will excel this fall.  At this point we just don't know all of the starting lineup.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Could this be the year for Odhiambo?

Word is that Rees Odhiambo has broken into the two-deep at offensive tackle.  Here's a guy who hasn't been playing that long and with the Bronco coaches, could really improve while he's here.

All Four QB's Looking Good

We are just three practices into spring ball and all four Bronco quarterbacks look good. That's the word we are hearing from Boise State.  I see benefits to all of them and would feel comfortable with any of them starting.  We know the Senior Class of 2011 was amazing and fans should expect a drop-off, if only because the starters this year will likely be much younger than the teams they are facing.  If there isn't, great, but don't let the expectations game get you wanting too much.  In any case, 2-3 losses isn't the fault of the quarterback but just that the team is raw.  Remember that.

What we will see is more running from Boise State's quarterbacks than we have seen.  All four throw a good ball and are intelligent QB's.  Odds for the freshman are stacked against them, given that only one freshman has ever started at Boise State.  But that freshman is the one they are now replacing and went on to become one of the best college quarterbacks the game has ever seen.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Story Lines to Follow for Boise State Spring Ball

The media makes a big deal about so-called eight starters lost on defense and the "shoes to fill" on offense.  Those who follow the program closely know that many of those eight "starters" on defense platooned, were hurt part of last year, or started because of injuries to others.  We also know of the huge depth on both offense and defense built up by years of outstanding recruiting classes.

Of course, until those promising players actually step on the field, we don't know if they will produce at the level they are capable of.  Then, there's academic performance, attitude, strength and conditioning, and living up to the other responsibilities (staying out of trouble) that they are expected to do to be a part of the Boise State Bronco team.

With Spring Practice starting this morning, there are several things that Blue Football Through and Through will be following.  One is the battle to replace All-American Nate Potter, who likely will be one of a stellar class of Boise State seniors to be drafted into the NFL.  Faraji Wright is one of those guys I personally thought would have already been starting by now, but has not matured into the type of consistent road grader that Boise State needs for its offense to run the way its drawn up.

There are the five defensive linemen who graduated, and that is the biggest area hit on the team.  It was perhaps telling that Boise State recruited JC DeMarcus Lawrence with this last class.  This move tells us two things--1) they don't think there are two ends who are ready to play Top 10 football and 2) the coaches likely expect Lawrence to start.  Bronco coaches don't usually go after JC recruits and when they do, they have had outstanding success (Jerard Rabb, Winston Venable and Tyrone Crawford are just recent examples).  Other contenders at the position are Tyler Horn, Darren Koontz and Kharyee Marshall.  I would like to believe that recent d-line recruits are also good enough to step up but we'll wait and see how they do in spring ball.

Safety is the other are of the defense hit with the loss of amazing four-year player George Iloka.  But I don't see it as a concern.  Lee Hightower came on last year and played both corner and safety and seemed to get better as he got adjusted to the speed of college ball.  Other contenders are Hazsen Moss, who played outstanding on special teams, and Jeremy Ioane.

Then of course there's the kicker, which is the kicking position.  Boise State has had more troubles with this position than any other since Chris Petersen took over in 2006.  Never was this more the case than last season, when the crowd held their breath on mere extra points.  So far, Boise State has not taken my advice of hiring a kicking specialist to coach the kickers--to me, it's worth the money to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on another coach that actually knows the mindset of kickers and knows what to look for in recruits, then works with the kickers to make them better.  After all, that few hundred thousand dollars would have already paid off in the form of two BCS Bowls (upwards of $15-20 million) that were lost because of missed field goals the last two seasons.  But oh well.

Sean Wale was brought in to try to rectify the kicking game.  Boise State has not had a dependable field goal kicker with the game on the line since the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma (Anthony Montgomery).  Jake Van Ginkel was brought in with the Class of 2011 but didn't see the field.  Since the team never carries more than one scholarship for placekickers, the winner of the Kicker Derby will likely get the scholarship.

It will be an interesting Spring.  Key dates to remember:  Pro Day for last year's seniors is March 22, the annual Spring Game, one of the most attended in the nation, is April 14 at 5 p.m., with Boise State's final practice slated for April 16.  The Spring Game is the only practice which is open to the public.

Spring Football Is Here

The battle to be Boise State's new quarterback begins today as the Broncos begin spring practice.  The defensive line is another are of concern where five of the top lineman all graduated.  Other things to watch:  who will step up as the clear winner at placekicker and who will emerge as one of the top running backs to complement D.J. Harper

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quarterback Ryan Finley Commits to Boise State

Boise State has their quarterback in the 2013 class.  The lucky recruit is Ryan Finley, a 6-4 quarterback from Paradise Valley High School in Arizona.

Finley was 239-of-381 for 2,908 yards and 25 touchdowns vs. only 7 interceptions.  Finley has a nice touch on the ball and makes excellent decisions.  He also rushed for 111 yards and four TD's.  Rayn runs a 4.6 40 and has a 35-inch vertical jump.  Better yet, he has a 4.5 G.P.A., meaning he has already taken advanced college courses for credit in high school.

"It’s a place he really wanted to go to," said Donnie Yantis, Paradise Valley coach. "It’s a top-five program. Petersen is one of college football’s best coaches. It was a no-brainer.”

Paradise Valley is the same school that has already given the Broncos cornerback Ebo Makinde.

Finley seems to be another of those guys we all envy; you know, the kind of guy that does everything well.  He scored 18 points a game in basketball, was the #1 tennis player at Paradise Valley and also was a high jumper as a sophomore.

The Broncos also offered quarterback Cooper Bateman from Salt Lake City and Jared Goff from Kentfield, California with the understanding that the first one to accept would become a Bronco.  And Finley won the sweepstakes.

Finley chose Boise State over California, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Northwestern.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Boise State Ties Florida State for the Modern Record for Wins in 14 Years

When it's all said and done, Boise State may hold every modern college football record known to man.  With 152 wins from 1998-2011, the Broncos have tied a record many people said would stand forever.

When Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles consistently were among the best teams in the nation from 1987-2000, and put together a 152-19-1 mark, it seemed like a safe record.  That is until Boise State came along.

The Broncos were 152-27 from 1998-2011, and the first year of that period was the third year that Boise State played major college football.  It was the year that Dirk Koetter came to Boise and ignited a flame that burns red-hot to this day.  Koetter came in and had the Broncos playing better than they had since they played in the 1994 I-AA National Championship game.  Koetter's team was 6-5 his first season, then a 10-3 season that culminated in Boise State's first major college bowl game and victory.

Boise State hasn't looked back since.  Dan Hawkins took over in 2001 and led the team to four more bowl games.  Then you have the coaching genius of Chris Petersen, who has led the Broncos to a 73-6 record since taking over in 2006, including two Fiesta Bowl wins and three other seasons in which his team should have been rewarded with a BCS bowl appearance.

Given what has been building over 14 years, and knowing what Petersen and his staff are capable of, it shouldn't surprise anyone if they break more records this fall.

Boise State's 13-Year Record the Best Since 1904

Of all of Boise State's records, this may be the most impressive.  For the farther out you go, the more you take out all the "flashes in the pan".  A one-year record or five-year record is impressive, but could be the result of one or two star players or one very successful coach.  

But when you break your own school record of 140 wins in a 13-year period (1999-2011) by six wins, that's something that people have to stand up and take notice.  Then when you consider that the 13-year period featured not one but three head coaches, it makes it even more special.  Boise State not only broke their school record, but the modern record, and  the 13-year win total of 146 wins is the most since 1904.  When you consider all that, you realize that Boise State is not only the dominant team in college football but the most dominant team in a century.

Pennsylvania was the last team to enjoy that kind of success, and there really isn't anyone else close in the 106 years since.  Pennsylvania of the Ivy League was 146-20-6, slightly worse than Boise State's 146-22.

The all-time record is held by Yale, which went an incredible 156-8-5 from 1888-1900.  Pennsylvania is second with 155-24-2 from 1892-1904.  And Boise State is third.

Boise State Has Done It!

For the first time, Boise State now leads the nation or is tied for the lead in every time frame since they began playing major college football in 1996.  By this, I mean looking at the most wins for the last two years, the last three years, the last four years, etc.  all the way back to the period from 1996-2011 (16 years).

Last year, Boise State was slightly behind in that 1996-2011 period, but with their 12-1 season in 2011, they have tied Virginia Tech for that record. 

Any skeptics--check it out for yourself. 

Boise State Sets Modern Record for Wins in Six-Year Period

Boise State has outdone itself.  

Breaking their school record of 69-9 set in the 2009 season, the Bronco football team is now 73-6 in the last six years (2006-2011), setting another NCAA modern record.  The list below shows the top teams for wins in a six-year period.  Multiple entries are allowed, but no year in a streak can overlap with another streak.

The Broncos have recently set modern football records for wins in a three-year period (38), wins in a four-year period, wins in a five year period, wins in a seven-year period, wins in an eight-year period, wins in a 10-year period, wins in an 11-year period, wins in a 12-year period and wins in a 13-year period.  And now wins in a six-year period with 73.

Although many of the teams on the all-time list did not play each other, it is interesting to note that Boise State played three of the Top 30 teams head-to-head:  TCU (in 2008 and 2009), Virginia Tech (2010) and Oklahoma (2006).

And the Bronco juggernaut continues to roll...

Here are the All-Time Leaders in Wins for Six Years (Records are Since 1909):

1.    Boise State 73-6 (2006-2011)
2.    Nebraska 70-7 (1994-1999)
3.    Texas 69-9 (2004-2009)
4.    Oklahoma 68-11 (2000-2005)
5.    Miami of Florida 67-5 (1986-1991)
6.    Florida State 66-8 (1995-2000)
7.    Brigham Young 66-9 (1979-1984)
8.    Ohio State 66-11 (2002-2007)
8.    TCU 66-11 (2005-2010)
10.  Alabama 65-7 (1974-1979)
11.  Florida 65-10-1 (1992-1997)
12.  Marshall 65-13 (1997-2002)
13.  Florida 65-15 (2005-2010)
14.  Florida State 64-9 (1987-1992)
15.  Notre Dame 64-9-1 (1988-1993)
16.  Miami of Florida 64-10 (2000-2005)
17.  Boise State 64-12 (1999-2004)
18.  Georgia 64-15 (2002-2007)
18.  LSU 64-15 (2002-2007)
20.  Oklahoma 64-18 (2006-2011)
21.  Oklahoma 63-5-2 (1971-1976)
22.  Nebraska 63-11 (1979-1984)
22.  Tennessee 63-11 (1993-1998)
24.  Kansas State 63-12 (1995-2000)
25.  Virginia Tech 63-18 (2005-2010)
26.  Penn State 62-6 (1968-1973)
27.  Arizona State 62-9 (1970-1975)
28.  Pittsburgh 62-9-1 (1976-1981)
29.  Ohio State 62-12-1 (1993-1998)
30.  Nebraska 61-9-3 (1970-1975)

Boise State Is the Fourth School in History to Win 7 Straight Games in 10 Straight Years

Boise State became just the fourth college football team in NCAA history to record seven consecutive wins in ten consecutive seasons last season.  The Broncos hold the modern record and join Princeton (21 consecutive years from 1883-1903), Yale (13 straight years from 1886-1898) and Harvard (10 straight years from 1886-1895).

The Broncos have had some great teams in the last 10 years and some that had their problems, but they have been able to win seven or more games in a row every year since 2002.  

Boise State Breaks Nebraska Record for Wins in a 7-Year Period

Move over, Cornhuskers!

With Boise State's 12-1 season last year, the Broncos relegated Nebraska to the title of former modern record holder for the most college football wins in a seven-year period.  Nebraska held the record for 12 years, as the Cornhuskers amassed a record of 81-8 from 1993 to 1999.  But now Coach Chris Petersen's team holds the mark at 82-10.

Boise State was 9-4 in 2005, 13-0 in 2006, 10-3 in 2007, 12-1 in 2008, 14-0 in 2009, 12-1 in 2010 and 12-1 again last season.

We're going to need a book pretty soon to hold all of the modern NCAA records that Boise State holds.

Boise State: The Only Modern College Football Team to Win 12 Games Four Years in a Row

Boise State set yet another modern record last year when they became the only college football team since the 19th century to win 12 or more games four years in a row.

The Broncos were tied with Oklahoma (2002-2004) and USC (2003-2005) with three such seasons until the Broncos went 12-1 with a 56-24 victory over Arizona State.  Boise State thus became the champion of 12-win seasons in the last 112 years.  Boise State has now set numerous modern NCAA records, which I will be detailing in the days to come as we get ready for Spring Football.

Friday, March 2, 2012

2012 Boise State Football Schedule Taking Shape

The Mountain West has announced scheduled days for conference football games.  Subject to change, here is the Boise State football schedule as we know it:

DATE                                       OPPONENT                                                           LOCATION                             TIME       TV
Aug. 31 (Friday)                    at Michigan State                                                 East Lansing, MI                    TBA         ESPN
Sept. 8 (Saturday)                Open
Sept. 15 (Saturday)             Miami (Ohio)                                                        Boise, ID                                TBA
Sept. 22 (Saturday)             BYU                                                                        Boise, ID                                TBA
Sept. 29 (Saturday)              * at New Mexico                                                  Albuquerque, NM                TBA
Oct. 6 (Saturday)                  at Southern Miss.                                                 Hattiesburg, MS                    TBA
Oct. 13 (Saturday)               * Fresno State                                                      Boise, ID                                TBA
Oct. 20 (Saturday)               * UNLV                                                                  Boise, ID                                TBA
Oct. 27 (Saturday)                * at Wyoming                                                       Laramie, WY                          TBA
Nov. 3 (Saturday)                * San Diego State                                                Boise, ID                                TBA
Nov. 10 (Saturday)               * at Hawai'i                                                            Honolulu, HI                          TBA
Nov. 17 (Saturday)              * Colorado State                                                  Boise, ID                                TBA
Nov. 24 (Saturday)               * at Nevada                                                           Reno, NV                                TBA
Dec. 1 (Saturday)                 Open
                                *Mountain West Conference Game
                                Home Games in Bold