No. 22 Boise State Broncos (11-2)
Coach Chris Petersen (seventh season, 84-8 at Boise and overall)
Returning Starters: 12, 5 offense, 5 defense, 2 special teams
Recruiting Rank: 53
Strength of Schedule: 83
Boise State looks to once again continue the success that has been established under head coach Chris Petersen. The Broncos are the only FBS program that has 10-or-more wins in each of the last seven seasons and that is largely due to Petersen, the winningest active coach in the FBS.
The schedule is definitely backloaded for Boise State, who were co-champions of the league last year, along with Fresno State and San Diego State. Each team posted 7-1 conference marks in the final year of the league as a 10-team conference.
Boise closes its 2013 slate with four straight conference road games against some of the league’s better teams - Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State and Utah State. The last two games in particular could go a long way in deciding who plays for the conference title in December.
The Broncos return 12 starters, including five on either side of the ball, from the team that beat Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Fifth-year senior quarterback Joe Southwick is back after throwing for 2,730 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. Southwick is one of four fifth-year seniors back to lead the offense.
The others are left tackle Charles Leno, Jr., center Matt Paradis and wideout Kirby Moore. Redshirt junior receiver Matt Miller is the other returning offensive starter. Moore and Miller give Southwick sizable options on the outside. Both are 6-foot-3 and combined for 102 catches for 1,137 yards and six touchdowns last season.
The Broncos will have to find a replacement for running back DJ Harper, who has moved on after rushing for 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns last year. Sophomore Jay Ajayi is the probable choice after rushing for 548 yards and four scores as a redshirt freshman. Sophomore Jack Fields, who totaled 135 yards on the ground last year, should see increased playing time.
"I think we’re making progress there," Petersen said about the run game this spring. "We’ll put the tape on, but it’s been fairly consistent a lot of spring."
The Broncos defense allowed just 15.8 points per game and forced 36 turnovers with a plus 20 turnover margin. The defense will again be led by end Demarcus Lawrence, who tallied 9.5 sacks as a redshirt sophomore. The 6-3, 244-pound Aiken, S.C., native will be joined by senior tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, sophomore end Sam Ukwuachu, and safeties Jeremy Ioane and Darian Thompson as returning starters on a unit that led the MWC and ranked 12th nationally in total defense.
The biggest losses were at linebacker and cornerback, where leading tackler J.C. Perry and top corner Jamar Taylor have graduated. But there's a reason the Broncos have seven straight 10-win seasons, they have great depth. Defensive linemen Tyler Horn and Corey Bell, linebacker Blake Renaud and cornerbacks Bryan Douglas, Donte Deayon and Ebo Makinde should all help keep the Broncos among the league's best.
Boise State will have a new placekicker, but senior punter Trevor Harman is back while Shane Williams-Rhodes returns to handle kick return duties and will likely handle punt return duties as well. Junior receiver Dallas Burroughs could also be in the mix.
Boise's recruiting class includes 19 freshmen and several junior college transfers - cornerbacks Cleshawn Page and Mercy Maston, running back Derrick Thomas, kicker Tyler Raush and defensive tackles Justin Taimatuia and Tutulupeatau Mataele.
PPG: 30.2 (55th)
YPG: 391.3 (69th)
RYPG: 168.2 (56th)
PYPG: 223.2 (71st)
Fum Lost: 9
Int Lost: 7
TOs Lost: 16
PAPG: 15.8 (8th)
YAPG: 315.6 (12th)
RYAPG: 146.2 (47th)
PYAPG: 169.5 (6th)
Fum Gained: 18
Int Gained: 18
TOs Gained: 36
TO Margin: +20 (2nd)
2012 season stats listed unless otherwise noted.
RB Aaron Baltazar
Chula Vista, CA (EastlakeHS)
LB Tanner Vallejo
Grass Valley, CA (NevadaUnionHS)
OL Charles Leno Jr.
r-Sr. 6-4 294
2012 All-Mountain West Second Team, 26 straight starts, & offensive line ranked sixth overall in sacks allowed.
OL Matt Paradis
r-Sr. 6-3 293
2012 All-Mountain West First Team, 13 starts, started at center last 2 yrs, & offensive line ranked sixth overall in sacks allowed.
QB Joe Southwick
r- Sr. 6-1 202
66.8 comp percent, 2730 pass yds, & 19 TDs.
WR Matt Miller
r-Jr. 6-3 218
66 receptions, 769 rec yds, & 5 TDs.
DL Demarcus Lawrence
r-Jr. 6-3 244
48 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, 4 FFs, & 2 FRs.
DL Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe
r-Sr. 6-3 303
37 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, & 2 FRs.
DE Sam Ukwuachu
r-So. 6-4 232
35 tackles, 7 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF, & 3 FRs.
S Jeremy Ioane
r-Jr. 5-10 189
70 tackles, 2 TFLs, & 1 FF.
at Michigan St L 17-13
vs Miami(OH) W 39-12
vs BYU W 7-6
at New Mex W 32-29
at S Miss W 40-14
vs Fresno St W 20-10
vs UNLV W 32-7
at Wyoming W 45-14
vs SanDiegoSt L21-19
at Hawaii W 49-14
vs ColoradoSt W49-14
at Nevada W 27-21
vs Wash W 28-26*
*MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
vs Air Force
at Fresno State
vs Southern Miss
at Utah State
at Colorado State
at San Diego State
vs New Mexico
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How would the Boise State Broncos do in the SEC? Boise State would be even better in the SEC. The Broncos showed this weekend that they could win against an SEC team with massive size. More importantly, the boost they would receive from recruiting and conference respect as well as having the best coach in the country would leave no doubt to their validity as a top notch college football program. Of course because of geography and other reasons, this move will never happen, but we still speculate.
Just this past weekend Boise State went into SEC country and stomped the Georgia Bulldogs. Because of last season’s follies for the Bulldogs, many detractors of the Broncos would argue that Georgia is not a quality team. Despite Coach Mark Richt having his first losing season (6-7) with the Bulldogs last year, he did compile a record of 96-34 with Georgia before Saturday. They also brought back some key starters and hauled in a top recruiting class. They had six players named to the SEC Coaches Preseason All SEC Team and three to the first team offense including quarterback Aaron Murray. Also according to Rivals.com, Georgia recruited the fifth ranked class in 2011. All of these factors gave them a preseason top 25 ranking and many experts were hyping them as a rejuvenated team full of talent. Now Boise State doubters are denouncing their victory over UGA when many of the same people were hyping the Bulldogs as a superior team before the game. Georgia did gain close to the same amount of yards as Boise State in their game Saturday, but they lacked the veteran leadership of a sharpshooter quarterback like Kellen Moore and the execution that the Broncos had to put the ball in the end zone.
Boise State proves size doesn’t matter; it’s the motion of the offense that counts. The Broncos’ critics think just because they have a smaller offensive line than many big conference teams that they are a spread “air it out” style offense. Boise State is not a typical spread style or gimmick air raid offense; they use multiple formations, move players around, and run the ball effectively. Their offensive line does average less weight per starter than a starter from the SEC, but the difference in size is not as drastic as often portrayed and they overcome what they lack in size with talent. They played the largest offensive line in the SEC this past weekend with an average of 335.8 lbs. per starting lineman, but the SEC average is 310.6 lbs. per starting offensive lineman which is more comparative to Boise State’s 289.4 lbs. per starting lineman. On the other hand, their defense is not undersized and the average weight of their defensive lineman is near the same as that of an SEC defensive lineman. The average weight of a starting defensive lineman for the Broncos is 281.25 lbs. and the average weight of an SEC starter is 277.24 lbs. Georgia’s defensive line is exceptionally large even for the SEC with an average of 321.7 lbs. per starter. (Projected starters and weights from Sporting News College Football 2011 Preview magazine were used to calculate average weights.)
An excellent coach like Petersen in a power conference like the SEC would be a recipe for a national championship. Boise State’s Coach Chris Petersen could arguably be the best coach in the country. In his five years with the Broncos, he has compiled a record of 61-5 with five consecutive 10 win seasons and two of them undefeated ending with Fiesta Bowl wins. He is the only coach since 1900 to win 13 games in his first season with an FBS team and he is the only coach ever to win two Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year Awards. 11 of the 25 winners have won either a BCS, AP, or USA Today national championship with a much higher percentage of dual winners over the past 11 years. Six of the last nine Bear Bryant award winners not including Petersen have went on to win a national championship.
The Broncos' recruiting would only get better if they moved to a power conference like the SEC. There were four SEC teams ranked in the Rival Recruiting top 10, eight in the top 20, and 10 out of the 12 SEC teams were ranked in the Rivals Top 50 Recruiting Team Rankings for 2011. In 2010, an astounding 11 out of 12 teams in the SEC were ranked in the Rivals Top 50 Recruiting. According to Rivals Recruiting Team Rankings, from 2002-2011 Boise State has never been ranked in the final top 50. It is evident that they have overachieved based on recruit rankings. Inclusion into a power conference would only boost their recruiting due to higher notoriety, more publicity, and introduction into new markets. The Broncos have just moved to the Mountain West Conference and may achieve their first top 50 Rivals rankings if they can maintain their spot at 40 currently for the class of 2012. Their success thus far exemplifies the capability of their coaches to find hidden talent and develop players.
Boise State would be a better team, but would not have the same amount of wins in a power conference. It would be inevitable that the Broncos would eventually have issues with playing on the road and in different climates even though they have an excellent road record as of late. On the other hand, I believe their home record would be similar to what it has been. They are 64-2 at home since 1999 and have beat teams like Oregon on the Blue. I think they would still garner many wins each season just less road wins. Boise State would still have more talent if they were in a power conference and their coach is capable enough to gain notoriety in a BCS conference to finally achieve a slot in the national championship game. They just proved they could handle a larger team. The SEC would only make them a better team.
Here are highlights from last week's game between Boise State and Georgia: