Bryan Harsin's club will be Mountain West favorites again, but there are some things they'll need to sort out this spring
In case you haven't figured it out by now, Boise State football operates on a different level year in, year out when compared to the rest of the Mountain West Conference. The Broncos may not win the conference championship every season, but they're the only team in the MW that spends most of each campaign firmly entrenched in the Top 25.
The 2020 season should be no different, but before we get to the Sept. 5 kickoff against Georgia Southern, the Broncos need to button up a few things on the practice field, leading up to their Spring Game on April 11.
The talent is there again for Boise State. Spring is where this team will grow, gel, and get locked in for a New Year's Six Bowl run.
5 Storylines to Watching During Boise State's Spring Practice
1. Hank Bachmeier's development
Bachmeier burst onto the national scene in the Florida State game last year as a nice story of a freshman with a lot of potential. With his freshman status came a certain tolerance for mistakes due to inexperience. Now heading into his sophomore year, Bronco fans will expect a more polished performance, and Bachmeier's bar for success will be set higher. There are no signs that he's not up to the task of leading this team, but the spring session will be a very important step in his maturation process as well as the goals of the team.
2. Receiver depth chart
Home-run hitter John Hightower is gone, off to the greener grass of the National Football League. That leaves Khalil Shakir, the leading receiver in terms of receptions in 2019, as the likely top target once again this season. Hightower's lid-lifting ability will need to be replaced, and that will be an interesting race this spring. One name to keep an eye on to assume that role will be rising sophomore Stefan Cobbs. He caught a couple of deep balls last year and has the look of a guy who can take on those types of duties full time.
3. Working in a new offensive coordinator
We'll use the term "new" loosely in this scenario, as the hire was made in-house. Eric Kiesau was promoted to the offensive coordinator position from his previous job as wide receivers coach. He did have the co-offensive coordinator title in 2019, but with head coach Bryan Harsin so heavily involved in the play-calling, there was not much room for Kiesau to put his fingerprints on the offense. That may change a little in 2020. Any new wrinkles that Kiesau will add should pop up sometime during the Spring Game.
4. Rebuilding the offensive line
This is the one position group on the field that should be most concerning to Boise State fans. The Broncos have a ton of offensive talent returning at the skill positions, but all of that could be wasted if Bryan Harsin can't figure out a solid starting group and rotation in the trenches before the end of spring. Right now, the offensive line only returns one player with any significant starting experience.
5. New faces in the defensive front seven
The Bronco secondary should be in pretty good shape with decent depth at the cornerback positions, but when you lose playmakers and tone-setters like David Moa and Curtis Weaver along the defensive line, you are always going to take a step back. Harsin would love to see some edge rushers step up and replace Weaver's production — especially in a pass-happy conference like the Mountain West. Keep an eye on what's happening at defensive tackle as well. The Boise State defense thrives when they have guys in the interior of the defensive line who can disrupt consistently. Scale Igiehon has the look of a guy who can be a household name in Bronco Country playing that role.
Another name to watch this spring is Demitri Washington. With the Broncos' top three sack masters gone (Weaver was first in the Mountain West and tied for fifth nationally with 13.5), Washington could be the guy to take charge in that department after collecting 4.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss in a reserve role last season.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.