Thursday, August 27, 2009

CFI Countdown: #16 Boise St. Broncos

2008 Record: 12-1 (WAC: 8-0)
Bowl Game: Lost Poinsettia Bowl to TCU 17-16
Location: Boise, Idaho
Stadium: Bronco Stadium (30,000)
Head Coach: Chris Peterson
Overall: 35-4 (4th season)
@ Boise St.: 35-4 (4th season)
Link to Boise Football Page

They call it a “Decade of Dominance”. Boise St.’s 108 wins are second most in the country during that span with 64 home wins, 70 conference wins, nine bowl appearances, eight conference championships, eight 10-win seasons, and seven straight years ranked in the top 25, including three finishes in the BCS top 10. So a 10- or 11-win season and a BCS bowl appearance in 2008 would amount to business as usual. It would also serve as further proof that the Broncos have more than arrived as a program—they are a true model of consistency.

When the Broncos Have the Ball

Offensive Coordinator: Bryan Harsin (4th season)
Scheme: Multiple Sets
Starters Returning: Six
Key Losses: RB Ian Johnson, WR Jeremy Childs, WR Vinny Perretta, OT Andrew Woodruff, OG John Gott

Headman Chris Peterson couldn’t have asked for more from a freshman quarterback, as Kellen Moore delivered a WAC title and an undefeated regular season while putting up some prolific passing numbers on his way to Freshman of the Year honors. Not only is Moore accurate, he has that “it” factor that cannot be taught, but that winning quarterbacks possess. Moore is hoping to show he has pretty strong arm as well this season. Looking to stretch the field will be a pair of athletic wideouts in juniors Titus Young and Austin Pettis. Don’t be surprised to see the tight ends get a little more involved in the passing game as well. They will miss heart-and-soul Ian Johnson, but are confident that juniors Jeremy Avery and D. J. Harper can pick up the slack. More concerning is their offensive line, where they must replace two starters and have seen some drop off from previous seasons. The leader is sophomore center Thomas Byrd who impressed as a freshman last season. Other players will need to step up if they are to meet all their goals—don’t be surprised to see some newcomers emerge.

Top Pro Prospects: 1) K Kyle Brotzman (JR), 2) WR Titus Young (JR), 3) QB Kellen Moore (SO)

When the Other Team Has the Ball

Defensive Coordinator: Justin Wilcox (4th season)
Scheme: 4-2-5
Starters Returning: Six
Key Losses: DT Sean Bingham, DT Joe Bozikovich, LB Tim Brady, LB Kyle Gingg, S Ellis Powers

While junior defensive end Ryan Winterswyk is the lone returning starter along the defensive front, sophomore ends Byron Hout and Jarrell Root flashed some talent as freshmen, as did tackle Billy Winn (Freshman All-American). None of them would be considered beefy, but all three are athletic and mobile, capable of knifing into the offensive backfield to make an impact play. That is not to say there isn’t concern when it comes to facing a power running game (see week one vs. Oregon). At the next level, junior Derrell Acrey figures to be in the rotation along with more youngsters seeing their first significant action. The secondary boasts two of the better defensive backs in the nation, regardless of conference. Senior cornerback Kyle Wilson, who easily could have left for the NFL after his junior season, returns to lock down his side of the field. Just as likely to make a big play is junior free safety Jeron Johnson. Rounding out the secondary are returning starters, junior corner Brandyn Thompson and sophomore strong safety George Iloka.

Top Pro Prospects: 1) CB Kyle Wilson (SR), 2) SS Jeron Johnson (JR), 3) DE Ryan Winterswyk (JR)

The Schedule

Let’s be honest, no offense to the Idahos and Utah States of the world, but Boise’s goal of another WAC title and BCS bowl will come down to two games—both at home—against Oregon to kick off the season on September 3rd (Thursday Night) and versus Nevada on the second to last week of the year (November 27th). That is not to say there aren’t any other games where they could slip up, it’s just that they never seem to. Four road games that won’t be walks in the park—Fresno St. can be tough, Louisiana Tech should be better, leaving the mainland for Hawaii is never easy, and Tulsa is one of the better teams in Conference USA.

Pivotal Point

Keep up the home cooking! Since 1999 Boise has the best home winning percentage in the nation at 97 percent—that’s 64-2, folks! In fact their only home loss since losing their home opener in 2001, was a 27-21 loss to Boston College in the MPC Computers Bowl (in a game the Eagles led 27-0) with Dan Hawkins in charge. Since then, they are 19-0 at home under Chris Peterson, including a win over the Oregon St. Beavers. To reach a second BCS Bowl in four seasons they must protect the blue field.

CFI Final Analysis

The Broncos are one of the more intriguing teams this season. Even though they finished undefeated in the regular season in 2008, they weren’t necessarily a vintage Boise St. team. They can be this year, especially if the offensive and defensive lines gel early. This is season is also different because of where they start—at home against a ranked BCS conference foe and at #14 in the AP Poll, their highest pre-season ranking ever. Of course, it’s where they finish that matters—BCS Bowl or bust!

College Football Insiders Top 25 Countdown:

The Next 25 (26-50) Plus 18 Bowl Teams
#25 West Virginia Mounainteers
#24 Tennessee Volunteers
#23 Clemson Tigers
#22 Pittsburgh Panthers
#21 Michigan St. Spartans
#20 Utah Utes
#19 Oregon Ducks
#18 Florida St. Seminoles
#17 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Contact Daniel Mogollon via email

Photo Credit: Media Relations Boise St. University