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2010 Football Season Preview: Boise State Broncos

2009 Record: 14-0 (8-0 in WAC)
2009 Bowl: Fiesta Bowl (beat TCU 17-10))
Final 2009 AP Ranking: #4
Head Coach: Chris Peterson (49-4 at Boise State)
Non-Conference Schedule: Virginia Tech (9/6), at Wyoming (9/18), Oregon State (9/25), Toledo (10/9)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 42.2 points per game (1st in WAC, tied for 1st in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 186 (4th in WAC)
Passing Yards/Game: 264 (3rd in WAC)
Total Yards/Game: 450 (3rd in WAC, 10th in Nation)

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 17.1 points per game (1st in WAC, 13th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 120 (2nd in WAC)
Passing Yards/Game: 179 (1st in WAC)
Total Yards/Game: 300 (1st in WAC, 14th in Nation)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +1.50 per game (1st in WAC, 3rd in Nation)
Penalties: 56 yards per game (6th in WAC)

Returning Starters
Offense: 11
Defense: 10
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Kellen Moore, Jr (277 of 432 for 3536 yds, 39 TD, 3 INT, 252 ypg)
Rushing: RB Jeremy Avery, Sr (209 carries for 1151 yds, 6 TD, 5.5 ypc, 82 ypg)
Receiving: WR Titus Young, Sr (79 rec, 1041 yds, 10 TD, 5.6 rec/game, 74 rec ypg)
Tackles: SS Jeron Johnson, Sr (91)
Sacks: DE Ryan Winterswyk, Sr (9)
Interceptions: CB Brandon Thompson, Sr (6)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #4
Lindy's: #2
Mark Schlabach: #3
Phil Steele: #6
Rivals: #4
Scout: #8
Sporting News: #3
Sports Illustrated: #3

2010 Pre-Season WAC Prediction
Athlon Sports: #1
Phil Steele: #1

2010 Bowl Predictions
Athlon Sports: Rose Bowl
Phil Steele: Kraft Foods Bowl (vs. Stanford)

Boise State beat Oregon in a season opening grinder that will long be remembered for what happened after the game. The Broncos went on to go undefeated and then knock off TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State needed a break to get into the National Championship game but did not get it last year. This year they have a really tough opening week game against Virginia Tech. Then also have a pretty tough match-up with Oregon State in their third game of the year. If Boise State gets past Virginia Tech it looks like they will once again be in position to play in the National Championship game if things break their way. When I was doing this preview I pulled Chris Peterson's record off of Wikipedia and was more than a little bit surprised at his 49-4 record. Sure, Boise State is playing a lot of teams that do not match up with them but only losing 4 games over a 4 year period (while also playing out of conference games like Oregon and beating the likes of Oklahoma and TCU in their bowl games) is amazing. Another stat that stood out for me was Kellen Moore's TD to interception ratio which was 39 to 3 as a sophmore last year. Moore was a big factor in Boise State's turnover margin which was a very healthy +1.5. When you are getting the ball 1.5 times more than your opponent good things are going to happen. Boise State returns practically everybody from their undefeated team of last year. If you are a Broncos fan you can't help but be confident going into the year. We caught up with Kevan Lee of the SB Nation Boise State Blog One Bronco Nation Under God (OBNUG) to find out what to expect from the 2010 Boise State Broncos.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?


Experience. Boise State returns 20 of 22 starters, except that the coaching staff told no one their starting job was safe this season. That's right. The Broncos will have Fiesta Bowl veterans nervously watching the two-deep roster every week.

Defense. Boise State's defense is better than its offense, and it took me a good year-and-a-half to wrap my head around that one.

Beating WAC teams. Especially Nevada.

Coaching. And I do not even mean gameday coaching, although that is really good, too. Boise State has great year-round coaching from recruiting to training to teaching to motivating to managing and everything in between.

Running back. There are four players who have had 100-yard games. And I love them all equally. (That's not true. I love Doug Martin best.)


Killer instinct. Boise State let too many teams hang around last year. It was bad times. Not only did it cost them some respect from pollsters and the national media (Beating Tulsa by a touchdown? Mark May finds that very disagreeable), but it also made it very hard on my life-crippling gambling addiction.

Bowl games. Except for the Fiesta Bowl.

Depth behind Austin Pettis. When Pettis went down last year, the Bronco offense was not itself. Sadly, the Pettis cloning project I tried to underfund this offseason went south and I blew the cash I raised on Lego Harry Potter.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

Well, it's certainly not a WAC team. Am I right? Who's with me?

/realizing the joke's on me

/getting depressed

/watching 2010 Fiesta Bowl DVR

/feeling better

Obviously, the answer from most all sane Bronco fans will be Virginia Tech. The Hokies are a preseason Top Ten team with the kind of depth and talent that non-BCS schools simply don't see all that often. And those sane Bronco fans are right; VT will be a test.

But I am most fearful of Oregon State. Beaver fear courses through my veins for a number of reasons. A) Oregon State is a very well-coached team that is one of the most consistent programs in the Northwest. B) The game is not receiving the cataclysmic attention of the Broncos' Labor Day opener with the Hokies, and therefore it stands to reason that players and fans might be overlooking it. C) The Rodgers' brothers were birthed by video game Bo Jackson. D) The game follows a tough test on the road against Wyoming.

I peed my pants a little writing that paragraph.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

DE Shea McClellin. The pecking order of Boise State defensive linemen goes like this: DE Ryan Winterswyk, DT Billy Winn, DT Chase Baker, JUCO transfer and never-taken-a-snap-before-with-the-defense DE Tyrone Crawford, afro'ed DE Jarrell Root, MLB Byron Hout, and then McClellin. To say that people don't talk about McClellin enough is to say that not enough people watched Better Off Ted. Of course they didn't watch. There was too much else to do.

Well those people were missing out, both because Better Off Ted was excellent and so is the Better Off Ted metaphor in this case, McClellin. The former high school RB from small-town Idaho blossomed as a starter last season, and he looked absolutely superb in spring practice. He has one of those Jared Allen motors, which helps him compensate for the quasi-RB way he plays defensive end.

Best of all, McClellin often lines up as a linebacker when the Broncos switch from their traditional 4-2-5 into the 3-4 or the 3-3-5. It is terrifying to watch, and I am 30 miles away in my papasan chair.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Kellen Moore is the best offensive player on the team, as well as the planet, and probably in the history of the world. It's a fact. Ask any Bronco fan.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

DT Billy Winn. Oho, did I throw you off the scent by singing hallelujahs at Shea McClellin in the above paragraphs? McClellin may be a force at DE, but a DEs impact is much more acute and narrow than a DT. Winn can control football games when is playing his best. He has that rare DT ability to hold the line of scrimmage and absorb blockers while still possessing a passing game push. His bull rush is top notch. And even he gets into the linebacker action when the Broncos go to the 3-3-5.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach its full capability?

CB Brandyn Thompson. This question inspired a post over at OBNUG where I blamed my premature disappointment on Thompson's inability to replace Kyle Wilson man to man. Am I being unreasonable? Of course I am. Thompson doesn't even have dreadlocks or his own wrapped RV.

However, just because Wilson's shoes are impossibly large to fill doesn't mean that Thompson gets a free pass. The Boise State defense got used to relying on Wilson's lockdown corner skills so much so that the D transformed into a blitzing, risk-taking unit that didn't need to pay any attention to one whole half of the field. Can Thompson pull the same sleight of hand this season? His up-and-down 2009 had hints of greatness and hints of awfulness. We'll see.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

LT Faraji Wright. The Broncos did a very strange thing this offseason. They moved their best offensive lineman, LT Nate Potter, to guard. Why? Because Faraji Wright told them to, that's why.

Wright and Wright clone Charles Leno were such up-and-coming stars in the BSU system that Bronco coaches were forced to make room for them. Inside went Potter, and Wright and Leno were left to duke it out for starting honors in his place.

I'm going with Wright for the starting role based on what little I have seen of him in practices and scrimmages. Plus, his name is not synonymous with the man who ruined late night television. Had there been a Charles O'Brien, I would have voted for him.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

DE Tyrone Crawford. There is only one spot on the Boise State defense that had to be replaced this offseason (although the Bronco coaching staff said everyone's spots are fair game, so there goes that fun stat).

You will hear a lot about CBs Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor, stepping into the vacant spot at cornerback. But chances are that you will hear Crawford's name plenty, too, once the season kicks off. A Canadian JUCO transfer, Crawford is expected to seriously contend for a starting spot this season on the defensive line. Will he overtake Winterswyk or McClellin? Quite possibly. But even if he doesn't, the Boise State coaches rotate their defensive linemen often enough that he will make an impact.

Former DE Byron Hout (he of the LeGarrette Blount punch) was moved to MLB to make room for Crawford, and Hout was a really good DE. Crawford must be something special.

Make sure you check out OBNUG prior to and after the big Virginia Tech showdown. You can also follow them on Twitter @OBNUG.

Previous WAC Previews
Fresno State Bulldogs
New Mexico State Aggies

Next Up: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

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