NCAA Football

2010 College Football Preview: Boise State

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 14-0, 8-0
Bowl Game: Fiesta Bowl (W 17-10 vs. TCU)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): 4, 4
Conference finish: 1st WAC
Offensive rank: 10
Defensive rank: 14

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Jeremy Avery, 1,150 yards, 6 TD; Doug Martin, 765 yards, 15 TD
Passing: Kellen Moore, 3,536 yards, 39 TD, 3 INT
Receiving: Titus Young, 1,041 yards, 10 TD; Austin Pettis, 855 yards, 14 TD
Tackles: Jeron Johnson, 91 total tackles
Sacks: Ryan Winterswyk, 9 sacks (6 solo, 6 assisted); Billy Winn, 6 sacks (4 solo, 4 assisted)
Interceptions: Brandyn Thompson, 6 interceptions (1 touchdown)

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 6 vs. Boise State: The neutral site game to open the season will likely see stronger support for the Hokies than the Broncos. This will be a tough game for both sides with a high scoring Broncos offense and tough defense taking on the Hokies, who fielded one of the nation's top defenses a year ago and return the last season's 5th leading rusher in Ryan Williams.

September 25 vs. Oregon State: This will be another tough non-conference matchup for the Broncos who are eager to prove they deserve national championship consideration. Like they face Williams in the first week, they'll take on Jacquizz and James Rodgers in this one. How the defense plays against top tier talent like Williams and the Rodgers brothers will go a long way in influencing voters and fans as to whether the Broncos deserve consideration among the nation's top teams. If they stop or contain the stars, or at the very least win both matchups, critics will have little ammo in keeping them out of BCS title consideration.

November 19 vs. Fresno State: The Bulldogs gave the Broncos a run for their money in last year's early season matchup. Ryan Mathews went for 234 yards and three touchdowns and while he'll be off plying his trade with the San Diego Chargers when the two meet this season, Fresno State should have enough confidence to at least put up a fight. Fresno State faced three straight tough losses against Wisconsin, Boise State and Cincinnati after opening 2009 with a win over UC Davis. They mark a potential late-season trap game for the Broncos.

November 26 @ Nevada: Like the matchup the week before, this Friday night matchup will be nationally televised and represents a potential trap for a Broncos team who by this point could be looking ahead to the BCS bowl season with title aspirations. Coach Chris Petersen should, and all indicates are that he would, have his team focused on defeating the Wolf Pack to avoid what would be a crushing late-season upset.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)


Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Richie Brockel, FB/TE; Kevin Sapien, G; Kyle Wilson, CB

Key Returning Players

Kellen Moore, QB; Jeremy Avery, RB; Titus Young, WR; Austin Pettis, WR; Nate Potter, OT; Ryan Winterswyk, DE; Billy Winn, DT; Brandyn Thompson, CB; Jeron Johnson, S; Winston Venable, S

Offensive Overview

Boise State returns most of their offense from a season ago, but will be without starting guard Kevin Sapien, who has decided to hang up the cleats due to lingering injuries in his neck and shoulder. The offensive line let up just five sacks all season in 2009 (the lowest total in the nation) and have great depth, so the loss should not be devastating, but whenever you lose experience like Sapien's it's never a good thing. Sapien will remain with the team as an assistant to the coaching staff. Nate Potter will move from tackle to guard this season, with Faraji Wright probably moving to fill the left tackle spot.

Jeremy Avery returns after leading the team in rushing in 2009 with Doug Martin and D.J. Harper also expected to see their fair share of carries. With so much depth at the position, Boise State will have no problem rotating fresh legs into the lineup. Wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis and tight end Kyle Efaw return for 2010 after combining to catch 25 of quarterback Kellen Moore's 39 touchdown passes. That left 14 touchdown receptions for the Broncos' slew of pass catchers, many of whom will be back for the 2010 season.

At quarterback is preseason Heisman candidate Kellen Moore. Moore finished with over 3,500 yards and with a TD-INT ratio of 39-3. Incredible. The Boise State system obviously allows him to put up such great numbers, but to throw three interceptions on 431 attempts and 64.3% passing is fantastic. I don't care what system you're playing in. He's emerged as a formidable leader of last year's top ranked scoring offense and should only improve as he continues his career.

Defensive Overview

Boise State may be known for putting points on the board, but they've also been pretty good at keeping points off as well. Boise State returns all but one starter in 2010 (CB Kyle Wilson) after finishing ranked 14th in total and scoring defense (300.21 yards/game; 17.14 points/game). If there is any cause for concern, though, it's in the pass defense. The loss of Wilson to the NFL hurts and while Ryan Winterswyk and Billy Winn managed to record nine and six sacks each, respectively, the pass rush could use some work. Nonetheless, the line looked good in spring practice and managed to get pressure on the quarterback. Winterswyk will man one of the end positions with Shea McClellin set to start opposite him. Winn will resume his role on the interior with Chase Baker returning to play alongside.

The task of replacing Wilson will fall to junior Jerrell Gavins and a host of other young corners. Brandyn Thompson returns to start opposite Gavins coming off a seven tackle, two interception (1 returned for a touchdown) performance in the Fiesta Bowl win over TCU. Winston Venable will assume the nickel spot once again with Jeron Johnson and George Iloka manning the safety positions. The secondary will be tasked with limiting passing teams, something they struggled with in 2009. Don't forget, though, that the Broncos tied for second in the nation in interceptions last season with 24 behind only Texas with 25. They picked off TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, who had previously thrown just five interceptions all season, three times in the Fiesta Bowl (twice in the fourth quarter).

There's depth in the linebackers corps with Aaron Tevis returning at weakside, Hunter White at strongside and Daron Mackey and Derrell Acery returning in the middle. J.C. Percy also has a great deal of experience and will see plenty of time this season. The starting lineup may change throughout the season with all five players capable of starting. Like much of the rest of the team, the Broncos will utilize a rotation of players that will keep fresh legs in throughout the game.

Special Teams Overview

Replacing Kyle Wilson's 10.4 punt return average won't be easy, but the Broncos return several players capable of making an impact on special teams such as Chris Potter, who returned ten punts himself last season, averaging 12.9 yards per return. Titus Young handled the majority of kick returns with great success, averaging 26.8 yards per return and even taking two back for scores. Doug Martin was also outstanding on his six attempts, averaging 29.7 yards.

Kyle Brotzman returns to handle place kicking duties in his senior season after an 18 for 25 junior season. He hit all but one of his 64 extra point attempts, his first collegiate missed PAT. Four of his seven misses came from within 30 yards with the other three coming in the 40 to 49 range. He hit a long of 52 yards in 2009. Brotzman was also the team's punter, averaging a very respectable 43.9 yards per punt.

Head Coach: Chris Petersen

Chris Petersen has taken the Broncos to new heights since taking over as head coach in 2006 after five seasons as the team's offensive coordinator under Dan Hawkins, now of Colorado. In his first season at the helm, he guided the Broncos to an undefeated record and a win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl on a now legendary 'Statue of Liberty' play for the two-point conversation to win in overtime. Despite being the one of only two undefeated teams in the nation entering the bowl season, Boise State was passed over in favor of a one-loss Florida team to play in the BCS National Championship Game. Florida went on to beat an undefeated Ohio State for the title, leaving Petersen's Broncos as the lone undefeated team in the nation when all was said and done.

Petersen has led Boise State to conference titles in three of his four seasons with the lone exception being their 10-3 2007 season when Hawaii with Colt Brennan captured the WAC title. Petersen was rewarded for his success earlier this year with a five-year contract extension that includes automatic one-year extensions for every year that he leads the Broncos to at least eight wins in the regular season.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Austin Pettis, WR; Titus Young, WR; Ryan Winterswyk, DE; Brandyn Thompson, CB; Jeron Johnson, S

Season Prediction

WAC Champions

There's almost no disputing that Boise State will take the WAC title in 2010. What Broncos fans and college football fans around the nation want to know is whether this is the year that this team finally gets their shot at a the national title. They'll have to go undefeated, of course, but if they can down Virginia Tech in the first week and then Oregon State in their third matchup and sweep the rest of the competition, and considering they will probably start somewhere in the top three of the preseason rankings, Boise State could finally earn their shot at the ultimate prize. If they can accomplish all of that and are still denied their right to play for a title, then I don't know why these guys should even bother lacing up their cleats each week.

I doubt that any of those guys would ever quit, of course, but you get my point. Boise State has lost just 11 games since 2002 (four in 2005 and three in 2007) have finished undefeated twice in that span, fought their way into the BCS twice, beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2006 season and is coming off back-to-back wins over ranked Oregon Ducks teams. For the love of God, give these guys their shot!

Returning all but two starters and with two big non-conference games on the schedule, this is the Broncos' best chance to shake things up. Moore will get consideration for postseason awards if he puts up similar numbers to last year's campaign. Avery, Martin and Harper will form a deep backfield, Pettis and Young will serve as the primary receivers with depth not at all a problem and the offensive line returns four starters with depth also not an issue. On defense, the front seven look great and the secondary should be in for another good season provided they find a replacement for Wilson.

This could be a landmark season not only for the Broncos, but for college football as a whole. September 6 will be an important date, as Virginia Tech poses the biggest roadblock for the Broncos this season. A loss, and any title hopes they had are up in smoke. The good news for Boise State fans is they'll have plenty of time to prepare for the Hokies as they take 2010 one game at a time. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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