Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Football Preview

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Chris Petersen has to replace seven All-Mountain West performers this spring.

<p> Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>

The 2012 season was the most nondescript and least heralded in some time at Boise State. And yet, Chris Petersen's bunch won at least 10 games for the seventh straight season and twelfth time in 15 campaigns. Despite losing seven All-Mountain West performers from the starting lineup, expectations will be higher in Boise, Idaho, in 2013 than they were a year ago. The quarterback is back, the defensive line will be incredible and the receiving corps is deep and talented. Petersen and the Broncos are poised for yet another stellar year on the blue turf.

Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 11-April 15

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 5

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Joe Southwick, 248-of-371, 2,730 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Jay Ajayi, 82 car., 548 yards, 4 TDs
Receiving: Matt Miller, 66 rec., 769 yards, 5 TDs
Tackles: Jeremy Ioane, 70
Sacks: Demarcus Lawrence, 9.5
Interceptions: Jeremy Ioane and Darian Thompson, 2

Redshirts to Watch: OL Mario Yakoo, OL Travis Averill, DB Chris Santini, QB Nick Patti, LB Ben Weaver, RB Devan Demas, DE Darien Barrett, CB Chaz Anderson

JUCO Transfers to Watch: RB Derrick Thomas, CB Cleshawn Page, K Tyler Rausa, DT Deuce Matale, DT Justin Taimatuia, CB Mercy Maston

2013 Schedule

Note: Only opponents have been set for the Mountain West. Times and dates are to be determined.

Aug. 31 at Washington
Sept. 7 Tennessee-Martin
Sept. 14 TBD
Sept. 21 TBD
Sept. 28 Southern Miss
Oct. 5 TBD
Oct. 10 TBD
Oct. 19 TBD
Oct. 26 at BYU
Nov. 1 TBD
Nov. 9 TBD
Nov. 16 TBD
Nov. 23 TBD
Nov. 30 TBD

Home dates, times to be determined: Air Force, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming
Road dates, times to be determined: Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State

Offensive Strength: The passing game. Joe Southwick returns under center as do the six of the top seven receivers, including the top two pass-catchers in Matt Miller and Kirby Moore.

Offensive Weakness: The running game. Star running back D.J. Harper and three starting offensive linemen, including all-MWC blocker Brenel Myers, must be replaced up front. That said, there is no lack of talent at either running back or offensive line.

Defensive Strength: Defensive line. Mike Atkinson was an elite player who will be missed at nose tackle. However, the top four defensive ends return as do four of the top six defensive tackles.

Defensive Weakness: Cornerback and linebacker. Two All-MWC cornerbacks and two All-MWC linebackers are gone from the roster in '13. Finding replacements at these two positions is important this spring.

Spring Storylines Facing the Broncos:

1. Develop cover corners. There aren't too many question marks on this depth chart but Petersen will have to replace three cornerbacks, including two All-Mountain West performers in Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins. Corey Bell and Donte Deayon have some experience and should get first crack at replacing the two stars, however, fans can look for Deon'tae Florence, Jonathan Brown and Bryan Douglas — who is still recovering from a torn ACL — to provide support. A host of newcomers — junior college recruits Cleshawn Page and Mercy Maston and redshirt freshman Chaz Anderson — will likely get plenty of looks as well. The Mountain West has some big-time offenses so finding covermen will be paramount this spring for Boise State.

2. Plug holes along the offensive line. Myers was a star at right tackler and will be missed as will both guards Joe Kellogg and Michael Ames. The good news is first-team All-MWC pivot Matt Paradis returns at center while second-team left tackle Charles Leno is back as well. These are two elite pieces to build around for Petersen. Names like Spencer Gerke and Jake Broyles, both guards, have some starting experience and will be the first names into the starting lineup. This group has to replace three starters but the two returning are excellent and should help lead the new faces up front on offense.

3. Find depth at linebacker. J.C. Percy led the team in tackles and was a first-team All-MWC linebacker. Tommy Smith received honorable mention honors from the conference as well. Both are gone and Petersen is left with little in the way of experience at the heart of his defense. Blake Renaud and Tyler Gray got plenty of playing time a season ago and will get the first crack at the starting jobs this spring. Dustin Kamper is a senior who will be asked to step up in spring camp. Travis Saxton, Ben Weaver, Andrew Pint and Christopher Santini will see time as well.

4. Is Jay Ajayi ready to carry the load? Harper wasn't a traditional workhorse back like his predecessor Doug Martin, but he was a veteran who made plays. His 15 rushing touchdowns and 1,137 yards will need to be replaced. Jay Ajayi is the top returning rusher and, at 222 pounds, plays much more like Martin than Harper. He can carry the load and could be the Broncos' next great star at tailback should he grasp the starting job this spring. Jack Fields will be his top competition but figures to be the backup. Depth could be an issue at this position so expect new faces like junior college transfer Derrick Thomas and redshirt freshman Devan Demas to get plenty of chances as well.

5. Pick a kicker. Fans in Boise don't want to hear about the field goal kicking game and how important it can be. It's a bit of a sore subject, understandably so. Michael Frisina is gone after making 15-of-20 kicks last year and Petersen is left with three options: junior Dan Goodale, junior college transfer Tyler Rausa and redshirt freshman Sean Wale. Choose carefully, Coach Pete.

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