Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 4:08 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Boise State , who opens spring camp next Monday, March 7.
Spring Practice Question: Who'll become the Broncos' new playmakers on the edge?
The conventional wisdom was that 2010 was Boise State's now-or-never moment where the national championship was concerned, their make-or-break campaign as a legitimate BCS title contender. The Broncos lost just four seniors from their undefeated 2009 squad, had the prerequisite preseason poll positioning, got the legitimizing road win at Virginia Tech ... this was supposed to be their one big chance, and Kyle Brotzman blew it all in Reno.
So it's almost shocking to look over the Broncos' depth chart and realize how much talent they still have at their disposal. There's Kellen Moore, of course, but there's also 1,260-yard rusher Doug Martin, first-team All-WAC offensive linemen Thomas Byrd and Nate Potter, their team leaders in sacks (end Shea McClellin) and tackles-for-loss (opposite end Tyrone Crawford), first-team All-WAC safety George Iloka ... all in all, the Broncos have a healthy seven starters returning on both sides of the ball, many of them among the nation's best at their positions. And, most important of all, Chris Petersen is still in Boise, too. 2010 was a great opportunity, no doubt, but it's far from time to start writing the Broncos' obituary as a nationally-relevant college football team.
But that doesn't mean there aren't holes to fill, and as it turns out, nearly all of them are on the edges of the field. Start on offense, where both of the Broncos' bookend deep threats at wide receiver -- Austin Pettis and Titus Young -- are moving on to the NFL. Their primary replacement will likely be senior Tyler Shoemaker, a capable veteran who averaged an impressive 18 yards per-reception in 2010. But behind him, pickings are slim; the only other wideout with more than 8 receptions last season was redshirt freshman Geraldo Hiwat, a converted track star originally from the Netherlands who finished with 11. Hiwat has prototypical size (6'4") and speed, but is still learning the game. If he and the rest of the non-Shoemaker receiving corps can't keep defenses from blanketing Shoemaker, Boise's typically wide-open attack could find the field unusually compressed.
On defense, the Broncos must find replacements for arguably their two best defenders in end Ryan Winterswyk and linebacker/safety hybrid Winston Venable. Though Winterswyk rarely made a large impact on the stat sheet (with just 1.5 sacks in 2010), he did a terrific job of holding the edge against opposing running games--a big reason the Broncos finished the season ranked seventh in the nation in rush defense. Venable was a first-team All-WAC player who made plays all over the field, including in the backfield, where he totaled 9.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 sacks. No other player outside of the defensive line came close to those numbers.
So Boise's absorbed big losses both in terms of their ability to hold up against the run on the outside and to attack the backfield from there. There's players who can take up much of that slack -- McClellin, Iloka, Crawford, and memorable LeGarrette Blount- goader Byron Hout chief among them -- but at Boise, top-shelf athletes who can dominate on the edges just by taking the field are hard to come by. (It won't help that corner Brandyn Thompson and All-WAC safety Jeron Johnson have also moved on). The first question Petersen will have to answer this spring is who on defense will prevent the Broncos from giving their opponents a leg up on the outside ... and what receivers might give them that same leg up on the other side of the ball.
Tags: Austin Pettus, Boise State, Brandyn Thompson, Byron Hout, Chris Petersen, Doug Martin, George Iloka, Geraldo Hiwat, Jeron Johnson, Kellen Moore, Kyle Brotzman, LeGarrette Blount, Mountain West, Nate Potter, NL, Ryan Winterswyk, Shea McClellin, Spring Practice Primer, Spring Previews, Thomas Byrd, Titus Young, Tyler Shoemaker, Tyrone Crawford, Virginia Tech, WAC, Winston Venable
Posted on: December 21, 2010 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 3:44 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Thanks to the Las Vegas Bowl's offer (or, to be sponsorifically accurate, the offer from MAACO Bowl Las Vegas) of a "professional massage," Utah and Boise State were able to deliver their Sunday pre-game trash-talking, threats, and dish-smashing shoves in person.
But with the teams separated -- after Sunday's incident, probably for good, at least until kickoff -- Ute wide receiver DeVonte Christopher had to resort to the fans' standard medium of smack talk, the Internet. And via Twitter, he certainly made the most of it (emphasis added):
Christopher, a Canyon Springs High School graduate, posted on Twitter: "I can't wait to get out here wit these Boise State or should I say Girlse State they a bunch of cheerleaders...lol."While Christopher is no doubt not the first person to come up with the "Girlse State" monkier, he is the first person to bring it this blogger's attention, and he is awarded full marks for both the attempt and for singlehandedly forcing his coach to create a Twitter policy .
That said, don't expect the tweet to actually do anything to ratchet up the acrimony between two teams that already sound like they don't care a whole for the other:
If anything ... untowards happens during the game, we might worry about the reactions from Utah's and Boise's new conference homes at the Pac-12 and Mountain West, respectively, on their incoming members' conduct reputations. Then again, you know what they say: what happens in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas stays in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 4:16 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College football's efforts to crack down on illegal head shots continued Wednesday, as the WAC suspended Idaho safety Shiloh Keo for the first half of the Vandals' next game for this blow to the helmet of Boise State backup quarterback Mike Coughlin :
Frankly, Keo is lucky he's only missing a half; he was initially suspended for the entire game but had it reduced on appeal. (Not that anyone at Boise can complain; Bronco cornerback Winston Venable also had a WAC-induced suspension reduced earlier this year.)
That Keo is suspended at all, though, further emphasizes the new, uh, emphasis in the sport this year on preventing head injuries. But is it coming at the expense of other kinds of equally nasty hits? The SEC raised eyebrows this week when it declined to punish Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley for a late blow to the back of Georgia 's Aaron Murray , and passed as well on issuing punishment to the two Bulldog linemen whose attempted retaliation on Fairley sparked a near-brawl. Notre Dame 's Kerry Neal went unpunished for this stomp on the torso of a Navy player.
The crackdown on blows to the head and concussions is, without question, an admirable one. But those are not the only dangerous -- and avoidable -- hits on the football field.
Posted on: September 29, 2010 4:30 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
When Boise State kicks off their conference season against powerhouse (cough) New Mexico State this weekend, they'll be doing so without one of their leaders on defense. Winston Venable, a senior safety, was suspended one half by WAC commissioner Karl Benson after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers. From Benson:
"After reviewing this play, it was determined that a flagrant personal foul should have been called by the game officials which would have resulted in the player being ejected" said WAC commissioner Karl Benson.
Rodgers, who wasn't even the ball-carrier on the play (it was a quarterback scramble by Ryan Katz), suffered a concussion and appeared to lose consciousness briefly.
The WAC was planning on suspending Venable for a game before a Boise State appeal cut the punishment in half. The Broncos obviously don't need to have Venable in their secondary to beat NMSU; heck, they could throw head coach Chris Peterson back there and still win by 30. But preparation and routine are important in football, and it'll be easier for Venable to stay in the proper mindset for the season if he's going through practice and preparing to actually be on the field come Saturday -- even if the game could be such a blowout that the rest of the starters will be ordered to sit at the half.
To the larger point, though, it's nice to see a commissioner's office take some proactive steps to combat this sort of thing. Venable's hit didn't make a lot of sense from a football perspective; he didn't try to shed the block, he just decided to initiate the inevitable contact rather than absorb it, and he laid a hellacious hit on Rodgers. Of course, while he was doing that, Katz was staying on his feet and picking up the first down. Tactically, it was a dumb decision, and it ended up being a pretty dangerous one too. Football's got to start actively avoiding that style of play; it's not "dirty" in the normal sense of the word, but it leads to enough brain injury -- on both sides and both immediate and cumulative -- that it's in everybody's best interests to stop such play.