Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Boise State Broncos

Boise State Broncos
The Broncos Had a couple of losses that were tough to swallow in conference play, and were games that they never would have lost a few years ago. Boise State lost to Wyoming, and then lost to Air Force in the regular season finale, and ended up in the Cactus Bowl, where a team that was completely uninspired got hammered by a Baylor team that was on a six game losing skid. That is not typical of this program to fall flat like that, so this season has to be about some unfinished business, and the Broncos are also scrapping this fall to reclaim their reputation as a Power Five killer. Will they be able to overcome the mistakes of last season and get back to the top of the heap in the Mountain West, and on the national scene?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Brett Rypien is back as a junior, and we should see some interesting year to year growth in the nephew of Washington State legend Mark Rypien. Brett played well at times, but when he did turn it over (eight picks last fall), it was at severely inopportune times. He will have to be able to play smarter and more under control this fall, but that is all possible. He passed for  yards and 24 scores last fall, and completed 61.9% of his passes.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
There are more questions than answers this season for the Broncos on the offensive side of the football. Jeremy McNichols being gone at RB is one of those glaring issues. He rushed for 1709 yards last fall, and then took his talents to the NFL draft. Alexander Mattison, a sophomore, has been ttagged as the potential starter, but has all of 67 career carries behind him. He has potential, but potential has to turn into reality.
Thomas Sperbeck is also gone at WR. Cedrick Wilson is back at WR, and is a big time threat. He caught 56 passes for 1129 yards and a team leading 11 scores last fall, and averaged just over 20 yards per catch. That is the good news. The bad news is that Sean Modster and AJ Richardson have been tagged as the other two starters at WR, and they combined for 13 receptions last fall. The entire receiving corps outside of Wilson coming back this season have a combined 29 catches.
Only two starters return on the line in LT Archie Lewis and C Mason Hampton. This unit will have to gel quickly for Rypien to have a chance to grow, and for  Mattison to be able to continue on as a member of a long line of successful Bronco backs.
The PK position is also open after Tyler Rausa, who struggled at times last fall, has departed. Joel Velazquez, a freshman, is slated to get the nod there.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
Three starters are slated to return on the line, and they will be instrumental in the new attacking style being implemented on defense. Durrant Miles is back at DE, while Jabril Frazier is returning at STUD end. They combined for 9.5 TFLs last fall. David Moa is back at DT, and could switch to NT. He finished with 8.5 sacks last season, and is the true star up front. Sonatane Lui will likely start as a sophomore at the open DT spot.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
There are no returning starters at LB for the Broncos this fall. Not one player slated to start heading into fall camp has started in a game with the exception of  Leighton Vander Esch, who was hindered by injuries last fall. Tyson Maeva played sparingly as a freshman, while Desmond Williams will be a freshman.
The secondary boasts only one returning starter in CB Tyler Horton, who finished with nine PBUs last fall to go with 35 tackles. Junior Michael Young is getting his first real action, as he is tagged as the starter opposite Horton at CB entering fall camp. Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce are slotted in as the starting safeties, and while they got some time in as freshmen last season, they are expected to take on much bigger roles as sophomores.
The Punting game is on reboot as well, as Joel Velasquez is expected to start here as well as at PK, which is a lot for a freshman to be taking on.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Troy, 9/9 at Washington State, 9/14 New Mexico, 9/22 Virginia, 10/6 at BYU, 10/14 at San Diego State, 10/21 Wyoming, 10/28 at Utah State, 11/4 Nevada, 11/11 at Colorado State, 11/18 Air Force, 11/25 at Fresno State
Final Overview
After what could be a three or four win opening month for the Broncos, depending on how they fare with Washington State on the road, things get real as we head into October. The middle month of the slate is a meat grinder for the Broncos, as the first three games of the month are all losable games with BYU, San Diego State, and Wyoming. November also has tough games with Air Force at home and Colorado State on the road. This will be no easy run for the Broncos in 2017, and that opener with Troy is a trap as well. If the young defense does not come together, and create more than nine turnovers that they created last season, Bryan Harsin's group could be in for some trouble. There will be no easy ride to the MWC title this fall.

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