2011 Boise State Preview
Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Posted Jun 9, 2011

America, what does Boise State have to do to get your love? Year after year the Broncos come up with dominant campaigns, and yet last season everyone couldn't wait for the one slip needed to get them out of the national title hunt. Will the move to the Mountain West finally bring some much-deserved respect? Check out the 2011 CFN Boise State Preview.

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2011

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Chris Petersen
6th year: 61-5
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 28, Def. 27, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Boise State Players
1. QB Kellen Moore, Sr.
2. OT Nate Potter, Sr.
3. DE Shea McClellin, Sr.
4. RB Doug Martin, Sr.
5. DE Tyrone Crawford, Sr.
6. C Thomas Byrd, Sr.
7. S George Iloka, Sr.
8. DT Billy Winn, Sr.
9. LB Byron Hout, Sr.
10. DT Chase Baker, Sr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 3 Georgia (in Atlanta)
Sep. 17 at Toledo
Sep. 24 Tulsa
Oct. 1 Nevada
Oct. 8 at Fresno State
Oct. 15 at Colorado State
Oct. 22 Air Force
Nov. 5 at UNLV
Nov. 12 TCU
Nov. 19 at San Diego State
Nov. 26 Wyoming
Dec. 3 New Mexico

America, what else do you want Boise State to do?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's not fair that the Broncos had to play one or two tough games a year and then got to mop up the weak and the sad in the WAC, but it's not like they're just getting by. Including the Oregon State win and the Maaco Bowl victory over Utah, every game but two – the win over Virginia Tech and the loss to a Nevada team that went 13-1 – was by 13 points or more. Of those 11 wins, ten of them were by 23 points or more.

Over the last five years of the incredible run the program is on, the Broncos have gone 61-5 with the last three losses by a grand total of seven points. Of those 61 wins, six of them were against BCS conference teams – with one loss to Washington – and 52 of the victories were by double digits. Again, a lot of the wins might be on 85 mile-per-hour fastballs, but Boise is putting them into the upper deck.

Even so, even though the team did everything it was asked to do, including beating Virginia Tech on the road, blowing away Oregon State, and obliterating everything in its path, there was sheer hatred when it came to the idea of a BCS Championship appearance. It took a late November road game against a very good, very experienced Nevada team, along with a few missed field goals, for the dream to die, and America breathed a collective sigh of relief.

And Boise State went back to being Boise State.

How did the Broncos respond to the soul-crushing defeat? They squeaked by Utah State 50-14 and eventually pounded Utah into a 26-3 Maaco Bowl pulp. This program is a machine on both sides of the ball finishing second in the nation in total offense, scoring offense, total defense, scoring defense, passing efficiency, tackles for loss, and pass efficiency defense, while leading the country in sacks, but it just can't get any national respect whatsoever outside of Kirk Herbstreit.

America, it's time to ditch your preconceived notions of what a successful college football program should be. Just because Boise State is tucked away in Idaho, and just because it doesn't get the four and five-star super-recruits like Alabama, Texas, or Ohio State, that doesn't mean the brand of football is any less successful. Wisconsin, Iowa, and TCU get praised up and down for finding guys who are the right fit, and Boise State, after eight ten-win seasons in the last nine and ten in the last 12 deserves at least a little benefit of the doubt.

Would Boise State be having this kind of success in the SEC? No, but it would certainly have rocked in the ACC, Big East, or Pac-12 over the last few years and has done more than enough to at least be involved in an honest, unbiased discussion about the national championship if it goes unbeaten.

This year's team isn't as good as the 2010 version, but the schedule is right, getting TCU at home, and the Mountain West slate isn't so tough that the Broncos can't get through it unscathed. It all starts on offense with a strong line paving the way for Doug Martin and a strong running game, while Heisman finalist Kellen Moore is good enough and talented enough to help make up for the loss of star receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis.

The defense that camped out in opposing backfields throughout last year is loaded up front and has a good-looking veteran linebacking corps, and the secondary should be fine with a little time, even if it's not as strong as it was last year. All the D has to do is not get bombed on while the offense does most of the heavy lifting, and this group can do that.

So, college football, are you going to be okay if Boise State is deep in the national title hunt this time around? If the Broncos can beat Georgia in the opening game of the season, you might have to finally accept it.

What to watch for on offense: Who's going to catch the ball? Nate Potter and Thomas Byrd will lead the way for yet another strong offensive line, and Doug Martin should be among the Mountain West's best running backs. Kellen Moore is a special, efficient quarterback who'll be on several All-America short lists, and he's good enough to make everyone around him better. He'll have to be. With offensive Bryan Harsin off to Texas and Brent Pease taking over the reins, Job One is to find replacements for Titus Young, who was taken in the second round by Detroit, and Austin Pettis, a third round pick by St. Louis. Tyler Shoemaker has been around and knows what he's doing, and tight end Kyle Efaw is fine, but they're not elite targets. There's hope for Geraldo Hiwat to build on his great offseason, and there are several decent untested prospect, but receiver is the team's one big concern.

What to watch for on defense: The pass rush. If it's possible, the Boise State pass rush that led the nation and was second in tackles for loss could be even more dangerous and even more effective despite the loss of all-star end Ryan Winterswyk. He was the leader and the star on the outside, but his departure means more time for Tyrone Crawford, a pass rushing terror who came up with seven sacks in a reserve role. Shea McClellin is a terrific veteran end who'll end up with at least six sacks, and tackles Billy Winn and Chase Baker are terrific on the inside. With the great pass rush, the rebuilding secondary will get a little time and the decent linebacking corps should look phenomenal at times.

The team will be far better if … the kicking game gets settled. Kyle Brotzman might have missed two season-changing/defining kicks against Nevada, but he was a good one who was reliable, consistent, and had decent range. He could also punt a little bit, and while he wasn't always great, he was good enough for a team that didn't need an elite punting game. Now the Broncos will have to try out a true freshman, Jake Van Ginkel, at kicker and has to hope for Brad Elkin to be ready to shine as the new punter. The kicking game could be the difference between beating Georgia and TCU and finishing 10-2.

The schedule: It's a two game season, and no, the non-conference home revenge game against Nevada isn't one of them. For a program used to being in the national title discussion, the opening day battle with Georgia in Atlanta means everything. Win that, and it'll be another year of talking about whether or not the Broncos belong in the national title chase considering they'll almost certainly be the favorites in the rest of the 11 games. While non-conference games at Toledo, Tulsa, Nevada, and at Fresno State are interesting, any team worthy of the BCS shouldn't have a problem with any of them. In a welcome to the Mountain West gift, Boise State gets both Air Force and TCU at home meaning the toughest conference road game of the year is at San Diego State. There's no excuse to not come up with a ten win season, at least.

Best offensive player: Senior QB Kellen Moore. He might not look the part of a top NFL draft pick and he might not have the biggest arm and best athleticism, but the lefty has been one of the winningest quarterbacks in college football over the last few years and he has been among the most efficient. He led the nation in pass efficiency adding yet another fantastic chapter to his great career with 10,867 yards with 99 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions. Granted, he had two phenomenal receivers in Austin Pettis and Titus Young to throw to, and he's been able to enjoy ten days to throw behind an air-tight rock of an offensive line, but he's the main reason the offense has been so effective and so explosive.

Best defensive player: Senior DE Shea McClellin. While he received First Team All-WAC honors, he was still in the shadow of Ryan Winterswyk. This year, the 6-3, 258-pound veteran should be the star and the best player on what should be among the most productive lines in America. He's quick, consistent, and always in the right place at the right time doing something big, including a 36-yard interception return for a score against Toledo.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore WR Geraldo Hiwat. There are some decent veteran receivers coming back, but there isn't anyone who'll make defensive coordinators worry. Hiwat needs to change that. At 6-4 and 200 pounds, the Amsterdam native has the size, and he's extremely quick and fast for his size, but he's still raw. A star this offseason, if he's a gamebreaking, No. 1 type of target, the offensive production isn't likely to dip.

The season will be a success if … The Broncos win the Mountain West title. If they beat Georgia in the opener the expectations and the season changes; the national title will be in play. But with the new conference and the new spotlight, just winning the Mountain West and possibly getting a BCS bid would be a success. Of course, if you're a die-hard Boise State fan and you've been waiting to get over the hump, the bar can be reasonably raised even higher.

Key game: Sept. 3 vs. Georgia (in Atlanta). The November 12th home game against TCU might turn out to be just as big, and it'll almost certainly be for the Mountain West title, but the season for Boise State, and for college football, might hinge on the performance in front of the hostile crowd in Atlanta. Last year, the Broncos were able to do it against Virginia Tech on the road and the national title expectations kicked in. The same might be true with a win over the Dawgs.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Boise State 49 for 303 yards – Opponents 8 for 56 yards
- First Half Scoring: Boise State 369 – Opponents 55
- Touchdown Passes: Boise State 38 – Opponents 8

- 2011 Boise State Preview | 2011 Boise State Offense
- 2011 Boise State Defense | 2011 Boise State Depth Chart
- Boise State Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006