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You can read the entire Boise State preview in Athlon Sports' 2011 magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP 25
#5 Boise State
Mountain West PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Chris Petersen, 61–5 (5 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Brent Pease | DEF. COORDINATOR: Pete Kwiatkowski
Senior quarterback Kellen Moore, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting last year, and senior tailback Doug Martin, who has a career average of 6.0 yards per carry, lead what should be another high-scoring Broncos offense.
Left tackle Nate Potter and center Thomas Byrd, seniors who earned All-WAC honors last year, highlight a strong offensive line that rarely allows defenders to touch Moore. The lefty led the nation in pass efficiency last year. He’s on pace to smash the FBS record for career wins by a quarterback, having posting a 38–2 mark in his first three seasons. His two losses were by a total of four points.
Moore does face some challenges this year, however. The Broncos lost standout wide receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young, and offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left to take a job at Texas. Former wide receivers coach Brent Pease, who served as a coordinator at Baylor and Kentucky, replaced Harsin in what should be a seamless transition. Pease, a former quarterback, will give Moore plenty of chances to chuck it, but he also wants to take advantage of Martin, who accumulated 1,598 yards from scrimmage last season.
Boise State will beat Georgia and win its third-straight opener against a BCS foe.
The Broncos return the bulk of a defense that ranked in the top seven in the nation in scoring defense (second), total defense (second), rushing defense (seventh), pass defense (fourth), pass efficiency defense (second), sacks (first) and tackles for a loss (second).
The line, regarded as one of the best in college football last year, returns all but one player. Ends Shea McClellin and Tyrone Crawford and tackles Billy Winn and Chase Baker combined for 25.5 sacks last year, more than nearly half of the FBS teams.
The question marks are on the back end, where the Broncos need to replace four-year starting strong safety Jeron Johnson, three-year starting cornerback Brandyn Thompson and two-year starting nickel back Winston Venable. Johnson led the team in tackles in each of the past three years. All-WAC safety George Iloka is back, and middle linebacker Byron Hout, whose 2010 season ended early because of a broken foot, is an important cog in the run defense.
Kellen Moore, QB Has 74 touchdown passes against nine interceptions over the last two seasons.
Doug Martin, RB Senior bruiser averaged 6.3 yards per carry last season.
Shea McClellin, DE Tenacious pass rusher on the nation’s best defensive line.
|Sept. 3rd||at Georgia (Atlanta, GA)|
|Sept. 17th||at Toledo|
|Oct. 7th||at Fresno State|
|Oct. 15th||at Colorado State|
|Oct. 22nd||Air Force|
|Nov. 5th||at UNLV|
|Nov. 19th||at San Diego State|
|Dec. 3rd||New Mexico|
The Broncos must replace four-year starting kicker/punter Kyle Brotzman, which could lead to some adventures in the kicking game. The staff recruited Jake Van Ginkel to fill the kicking job, but the Broncos had four field goal kickers in spring ball, too. Senior punter Brad Elkin was redshirted last year to preserve him for this season. The Broncos should have outstanding return units but struggled covering kickoffs last season — an area of concern considering that their non-conference schedule is laced with some of the best kickoff returners in the nation.
For the third straight year, the Broncos open the season with a showcase game that could push them into the national title conversation. They face Georgia in Atlanta after beating Oregon (2009) and Virginia Tech (2010) in the past two openers. And the schedule should help the Broncos sway skeptics. All five non-conference opponents played in bowls last year, and the Broncos will host fellow BCS buster TCU in a November showdown in the schools’ only meeting as Mountain West Conference rivals. If the Broncos beat Georgia and TCU — and look good doing it — they might be able to finish the historic quest for a title shot that they began last year.
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