Sunday, February 12, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Boise State Broncos

2016 was a season of recurrent dominance on one side (San Diego State), and a resurgence on the other (Wyoming). The strength of the MWC was once again on the Mountain Division side of the league, as both Boise State and Air Force finished with 10 wins after bowl season was over with, and New Mexico finished with 9 wins. Wyoming, finished with 8 after being one of the worst programs in America in recent seasons. The Cowboys made it to the MWC title game after holding off charges from both Boise State and New Mexico, and while the season could have finished better for the Cowboys, the surge in success in Laramie had to be recognized as a huge move forward for Craig Bohl and his Cowboy program. In the West, Hawaii showed signs of life under Nick Rolovich, but the rest of the division, not including San Diego State, tanked once again, that side of the league will have 3 new head coaches in 2017. Here is a look back at the season that was in 2016.

Boise State Broncos
10-3 (6-2)

2016 Schedule
Beat Louisiana-Lafayette 45-10
Beat Washington State 31-28
Beat Oregon State 38-24
Beat Utah State 21-10
Beat New Mexico 49-21
Beat Colorado State 28-23
Beat BYU 28-27
Lost to Wyoming 30-28
Beat San Jose State 45-31
Beat Hawaii 52-16
Beat UNLV 42-25
Lost to Air Force 27-20
Lost to Baylor 31-12 (Cactus Bowl)

MVP Offense: RB Jeremy McNichols
McNichols was the latest in a run of very good backs at Boise State, as he rushed for 1709 yards and 23 scores while averaging 5.44 yards per carry as a junior in 2016. That was a solid increase in yardage over 2015, when he still managed to rush for over 1300 yards. He carried the football 24.15 times per game, and averaged 131.46 yards per game, taking pressure off of a young QB in Brett Rypien. McNichols also caught another 37 passes (3rd on the team) for 474 yards and another 4 scores, and averaged 12.81 yards every time he caught a pass.
MVP Defense: Sam McCaskill, DL
McCaskill was a raging force on the line for the Broncos, as he finished with 50 tackles, a team leading 14 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, and 5 PBUs on the season. He led a solid Bronco defense that allowed just 23.3 points per game, even though they were on the lower end nationally in yards allowed. Still, Boise State managed to allow 24 points or less 6 times, not a terrible number in the scoring happy modern era of college football.
Others of Note: Brett Rypien had a strong Sophomore effort, passing for 3646 yards and 24 scores to just 8 picks. He completed 61.9% of his passes, but that number was a slight drop from his freshman campaign, which is something to keep an eye on. Thomas Sperbeck was his usual self, posting a receiving line of 80-1272-9, averaging 15.9 yards per reception in his final season as a Bronco. Cedrick Wilson was also a beast in the passing game as a junior, hauling in a line of 56-1129-11.
Ben Weaver was productive as a senior at LB, leading the team with 108 tackles, or 8.31 per game. Sophomore David Moa was the beneficiary of the work that McCaskill put in, as he collapsed the backfield often from the other side, finishing with a team leading 10.5 TFLs, and he led the team in sacks with 8.5.Chancellor James led the team with just 3 picks, as the Broncos intercepted just 7 passes all season. Jonathon Moxey led the team with 13 PBUs.
Sean Wale was the king of the kicking game, as the senior punter wrapped up his career with a 44.96 yard average.
Best Win: BYU 28-27, Washington State 31-28
The Broncos opened the season 7-0 before a loss to Wyoming started a season ending skid of sorts. An early win against Washington State was an up for grabs affiar against a PAC-12 team that I had selected before the season to compete for and win the PAC-12 North, while BYU was a team still finding themselves a bit, but still managed to drag the Broncos to the final minutes. Both teams ended up in bowls, and ended up being quality wins.
Worst Loss: Baylor 31-12
Baylor was a 6 win team on a major losing streak heading into the Cactus Bowl, but it seemed that when Boise State fell short of winning the Mountain Division, this was not a locale that the team cared about on any level, as it would have seemed that they never bothered getting off of the bus. Boise State never scored their final points until late into the 4th and garbage time, meaning that this loss was way worse than the final score indicated. After that 7-0 start, the Broncos finished just 3-3, and there were some signs that the team came apart a bit across the board.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 Troy, 9/9 at Washington State, 9/23 Virginia, 10/7 at BYU
The schedule is tough, but not unmanageable in 2017 out of conference play. Troy is an emerging program right now, Washington State gets back Luke Falk, and traveling to BYU will not be easy, and never is. The one almost lock that I do see is a home game against a Virginia team that is completely under construction under Bronco Mendenhall.

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