2009 College Football Season Preview: Boise State

Matt McGuire’s 2009 College Football Season Previews.

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Boise State Broncos (Last Year: 12-1)

2009 College Football Season Preview:

Star Players:
QB Kellen Moore, RB Jeremy Avery, WR Austin Pettis, TE Kyle Efaw, T Nate Potter, G Kevin Sapien, DE Ryan Winterswyk, DL Billy Wynn, ILB Derrell Acrey, CB/PR Kyle Wilson, CB Brandon Thompson, S Jeron Johnson, P Kyle Brotzman.
Draft/Graduation/Transfer Losses:
RB Ian Johnson, WR Vinny Perretta, WR Jeremy Childs, WR Julian Hawkins, TE Chris O’Neil, T Andrew Woodruff, G Jon Gott, DT Sean Bingham, DT Joe Bozikovich, OLB Tim Brady, ILB Dallas Dobbs, OLB Kyle Gingg, S Ellis Powers.

2009 Boise State Broncos Offense:

Despite not being known as a program that can recruit on a top-25 level annually, Chris Peterson somehow finds talent that can win, and quite frankly what is more important than winning?

This team should have no problem replacing running back Ian Johnson with talents such as Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper. This offense is predicated on speed, speed, and more speed within the zone blocking schemes. The tailbacks are expected to find open running lanes with their vision and athletic offensive line.

Let’s not forget the best one of the best quarterbacks in the entire western region in Kellen Moore, which is really saying something since he was a redshirt freshman in 2008. Coming back next season, Moore will be an even more confident quarterback in terms of leadership, but it will be difficult to top last season’s passing statistics.

Moore completed 69.4 percent of his passes with an 8.61 YPA, which was good for 3,486 yards. It doesn’t get much better than that. He also had a very impressive 25 touchdown-to-10 interception ratio.

The reason I don’t see his statistics improving besides the fact they are remarkable is because of the loss at the receiving corps. Gone is first-team All-WAC selection Jeremy Childs, who bolted for the NFL and went undrafted. Also gone is senior Vinny Perretta who had 578 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2008. Don’t forget about Julian Hawkins either. Between Childs, Perretta, Hawkins, Ian Johnson, and tight end Chris O’Neil, the Bronocs just lost more than 2,000 receiving yards from last year’s roster!

Who is going to step up? Many expect second-team All-WAC receiver Austin Pettis to put up big numbers next year. Pettis might be a future NFL receiver with his 6-3 frame and good speed. Watch out for him to have a breakout season. Tight end Kyle Efaw and underclassmen receivers Titus Young and Tyler Shoemaker will need to pick up the slack.

Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has his hands full next season, but should put together another productive offense in Boise on the blue turf. The offensive line is very athletic and very undersized up front, but Harsin has overcome this before.

2009 Boise State Broncos Defense:
Boise State has never been known for having a speedy, intimidating defense, but with better scouting done and getting the commitments necessary to be a top-flight program, Boise State seems to find gems in the rough and really put together a unit that executes.

Let’s start up front for the Broncos. This line is led by the athletic Ryan Winterswyk. Winterswyk is 6-4, 260, with a big motor and has some range. He had 41 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in 2008. The coaching staff has gone on record expecting more production out of the junior bookend.

Another talent on this line is sophomore Billy Winn. Winn saw action at both defensive tackle and defensive end last season, and it will be interesting to see where the coaching staff decides to stick him to open in 2009. Also look out for defensive tackles Chase Baker and J.P. Nisby to have bigger roles in the upcoming season.

The linebacking corps lost two starters and a backup in Tim Brady, Dallas Dobbs and Kyle Gingg. Inside linebacker Derrell Acrey needs to become more of a leader next season and be the captain of the defense. There are several sophomores who will be competing at outside linebacker including Aaron Tevis and Bryan Hout, and somebody needs to step up.

Make no mistake about it, this is one of the best defensive backfields in the country, even with the loss of the emotional leader Ellis Powers who played the rover position at safety and linebacker.

However, this team has some pro potential in the likes of Kyle Wilson, who could be drafted in the first few rounds next year. Wilson is great in press man coverage and has a nose for the football. If he is beat deep, he has the speed to recover. Let’s not forget about his partner in crime, junior corner Brandyn Thompson.

Safety Jeron Johnson returns for his junior campgain. He plays with range and can bring the big hit, and it comes to no surprise because he was the only sophomore defensive back to be All-WAC (second-team).

The defensive backfield is one of the best in the country and a big reason why Boise State was fourth in the nation in defensive YPA at 5.5. I think the defensive line is even more talented, so expectations will be high in Boise.

2009 Boise State Broncos Schedule and Intangibles:
What is there to say about Boise State’s schedule that we don’t already know because the WAC is a horrible conference? Boise State has only lost two conference games in the past seven years. It’s a no-brainer that BSU will likely run the table again in conference…

…which means the only competition on the schedule is on Thursday Night Lights on Sept. 3 against Oregon at home. The Smurf Turf should be rocking as Oregon is looked at as one of the top teams again in the Pac-10. If Boise State can hurdle the Ducks, their schedule is set up for another undefeated season.

The non-conference schedule also includes Miami of Ohio, at Bowling Green, UC Davis, and at Tulsa. I have a major problem with this athletic department because they are coming off as a bunch of wussies for scheduling these creampuffs (except Tulsa). Boise State is in a terrible conference and they schedule Miami Ohio, Bowling Green, and UC Davis? Don’t expect me to ever vouch for this team to make the national championship when they schedule these cupcakes in the non-conference.

We need to address the Broncos special teams. Punter/Kicker Kyle Brotzman ranked second in the country with a 45.8 punting average. However, Brotzman is a mediocre kicker who only completed 65.4 percent of his field goal attempts.

Kyle Wilson is an explosive punt returner as he had three touchdowns with a 14.24 average. Wilson is one of the top returning punt return (say that five times fast) men in the country and is looking for a more prolific season in 2009.

Kellen Moore needs to step up next season as more of a leader with an inexperienced receiving corps. I don’t doubt that he can do considering his impressive freshman campaign, I am just saying he needs to.

Again, a BCS berth probably all comes down to on Sept. 3. A win puts the Broncos in the drivers seat and they control their own destiny. With Utah’s win last year, voters won’t be shy about putting Boise State into the BCS, though their schedule is incredibly too weak to be a true championship contender.

Sleeper Loss: Oct. 14 at Tulsa. Tulsa will probably have a high-powered offense and Boise State just might overlook this team. They went 11-3 last season and are deadly at home. Watch out for a loss here because Tulsa will be ready and it will be interesting to see how Boise fairs on the road.

2009 Boise State Broncos Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2009 Boise State Broncos Analysis:
Boise State should expect the same success they’ve had for the past seven years. Fan expectations are through the roof because it’s BCS or bust in Boise, as it should be. The only real challenges are against Oregon and at Tulsa. I personally expect one of these games to be a loss because I just don’t know if Boise State has the same offensive line they did last year and the receiving corps likely won’t be as good. I think the loss will be at Tulsa because playing a high-powered offense on the road is very tough.

Projection: 12-1 (WAC Champions)

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