2012 Boise State Preview – Offense
Boise State WR Matt Miller
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Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Last year there was a huge question mark about whether or not the Boise State offense could keep the production going after losing a pair of NFL receivers in Austin Pettis and Titus Young, question marks on the line and a new offensive coordinator. Now it'll be up to another new offensive coordinator, Robert Prince, to try to make the nation's ninth-best offense and fifth-best scoring offense going. The bigger problem is losing Kellen Moore at quarterback and Doug Martin out of the backfield. Fortunately, the line should be solid and the receiving corps is experienced and solid. D.J. Harper has to stay healthy at running back and a new quarterback – likely junior Joe Southwick – has to do the impossible and replace Moore, but Boise State always plugs in the holes and keeps on rolling.
Star of the offense: Senior RB D.J. Harper
Passing: Joe Southwick
23-30, 198 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: D.J. Harper
115 carries, 557 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Matt Miller
62 catches, 679 yds, 9 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Joe Southwick
Unsung star on the rise: Southwick
Best pro prospect: Harper
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Harper, 2) Southwick, 3) OG Joe Kellogg
Strength of the offense: Coaches, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Proven Quarterback, Doug Martin
Who gets to be the one who has to take over for Kellen Moore? It will still be a dogfight for the gig up until the opener, but junior Joe Southwick appears to be destined to be the main man. The 6-1, 191-pounder isn't all that big, but he has an accurate arm that's good enough to get the ball down the field. Unlike Moore, Southwick can run a little bit with the mobility to take off when needed to get positive yards. It was expected that he'd take over the starting job as the apprentice last season, completing 77% of his throws for 198 yards with a touchdown and a pick, but he has to continue to be consistent. He did nothing this offseason to suggest that anyone else is better for the job.
Will the coaching staff turn the ball over to a true freshman? Nick Patti is only 5-10 and 189 pounds, but he's a playmaker who has great skills that go beyond his size. In the mix for the Gatorade Player of the Year and a finalist for Florida's Mr. Football, the Orlando native is accurate and efficient with the ability to bomb away while also being able to take off when needed. He's more of a dual threat option than Southwick.
6-0, 191-pound sophomore Grant Hedrick saw mop-up time last year stepping on the field in eight games and completing 2-of-3 passes for 19 yards while running for 70 yards and a score. A great runner, the former Oregon High School Player of the Year is a Wildcat option who can be a change of pace in the rotation. Also in the mix is redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea, one of the team's top recruits last year with a live arm and the smarts to know what he's doing if given the chance. A great scout teamer and an excellent rusher, he might mostly be used as a good practice player.
Watch Out For … Patti. The thought was that Hedrick and Laughrea would be deep in the hunt for the starting job, but now they might be fighting for the No. 2 gig with Patti too good to keep down.
Strength: Mobility. Kellen Moore wasn't necessarily a sitting duck, but no one confused him for Denard Robinson. Southwick is a better runner and all the other options can move. The coaching staff can play around with the options.
Weakness: Kellen Moore. 1,157-of-1,658 for 14,667 yards, 142 touchdowns, 28 interceptions and an NCAA record 50 wins. Good luck replacing him.
Outlook: It's Boise State, so the next starting quarterback will be more than fine. Remember Bart Hendricks? Ryan Dinwiddie? Jared Zabransky? Southwick appears to be ready to keep the fun going, and while it's asking for way too much for anyone to be as magical as Moore, the passing production will continue.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The loss of Doug Martin is almost as big for the offense as losing Kellen Moore, but getting back D.J. Harper for one more season will ease the pain. Back after suffering a torn ACL, he finished second on the team with 557 yards and nine scores averaging 4.8 yards per carry, while catching 19 passes for 140 yards and a score. The 5-9, 201-pounder has to prove he can handle the workload after having so many problems with knee injuries, but when he's right he has a great blend of speed and power to go along with great hands.
5-9, 201-pound senior Drew Wright stepped up and produced as the team's third-leading rusher last season with 218 yards and three scores averaging 5.1 yards per carry. However, he's best known for a key fumble against TCU. A great special teamer, he'll get more of a role this season in the rotation with Harper and could end up being the featured back at times to keep everyone fresh. He'll combine with 6-0, 219-pound redshirt freshman Jay Ajayi, a big, tough back from Texas who averaged over ten yards a carry in his senior year of high school with 35 scores. Not just tough, he's also fast with the wheels to come up with yards in chunks – he might be like another Martin.
Senior Dan Paul redshirted last season, but now the 6-1, 265-pound former linebacker should settle in again at fullback. He has moved around positions over the course of his career, and he'll never carry the ball, but he's a blaster of a blocker and should be a key performer in the equation.
Watch Out For … Wright. Can Harper handle over 250 carries? He might need to be on a pitch count to make sure he's healthy and rolling for the big games, meaning Wright has to play a bigger role.
Strength: The passing game. Even without Kellen Moore the passing game will still be fantastic and will still be the main mode of travel. The running game doesn't have to carry the offense and the pressure will be off.
Weakness: Martin. With 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns and 28 catches with two scores, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer was as much a part of the attack as Moore and the passing game. Harper is really, really good, but he's not Martin.
Outlook: As long as Harper is alive and kicking the running game will be fine. It will take a rotation to keep everyone fresh with the more Wright and Alayi able to do, the better. Helping the running game will be a more mobile quarterback with all the options better than Moore at taking off.
Unit Rating: 6.5
The receiving corps needed new talents to step up and shine last year, and Matt Miller turned out to be everything the team needed tying for first on the team with 62 catches for 679 yards and nine scores. The 6-3, 213-pounder was the Montana Gatorade Player of the Year in 2009 and showed why with nice hands and route-running ability. While he might not be a top deep threat and he didn't have a blow-up game, he's ultra-steady and reliable.
Senior Mitch Burroughs is a 5-9, 186-pound quick option finishing third on the team with 49 catches for 500 yards and a score. While he's not exactly a dangerous target – his biggest game was a six-catch, 76-yard day against Toledo – he can be used as a runner and a returner averaging 13.3 yards per punt return. He's great when he gets the ball on the move.
6-4, 211-pound junior Geraldo Boldewijn has tremendous size and elite raw skills, but it hasn't quite come together despite catching 19 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He grew into a starting role getting the call three times last year, and now the Amsterdam native should be on the verge of making big things happen. He only played one season of high school football and is still learning the subtleties, but he's a talent.
Taking over the starting tight end job from Kyle Efaw is veteran Gabe Linehan, a 6-3, 240-pound junior who caught 23 passes for 252 yards and five touchdowns. A good pass catcher and a decent blocker, he's a good all-around option who could quickly grow into the go-to guy now that he'll get more time and work. He'll be backed up by Kyle Sosnowski, a 6-1, 223-pound sophomore who caught two passes for 11 yards. A big wide receiver playing tight end, he got two starts last year and he should flourish in two tight end sets.
6-3, 203-pound junior Kirby Moore turned out to be a nice spot starter after sitting out in 2010. He started out his career with a good 21-catch, 242-yard true freshman season, and last year he was able to combine with his brother, Kellen Moore, for 22 catches for 247 yards and a score coming on as the season went on. Also in the backup rotation will be Dallas Burroughs, and Idaho state championship sprinter who caught nine passes for 175 yards and a score as a true freshman highlighted by a 53-yard score against TCU.
Watch Out For … Boldewijn. After getting back into the equation midway through last season he showed off some of the skills and potential as a dangerous matchup nightmare. Now that he's been a part of the system for the last three years he should be ready to come up with a big season.
Strength: Experience. A mega-problem going into last year, the receiving corps loses co-leader Tyler Shoemaker and tight end Kyle Efaw but gets back Miller, Burroughs, Linehan, Moore and Boldewijn. It's a strong core of players to build around.
Weakness: Star talent. It's a strength in numbers situation but there isn't a Titus Young or Austin Pettis to dominate. The receivers are going to be good, but the corps is lacking a superstar to make the passing game elite. The numbers will come as a function of the offense more than on skill, but that will be enough.
Outlook: The receiving corps wasn't expected to completely fall off the map after so much turnover, but no one expected it to be as solid as it was. This year the targets will help ease in the new era at quarterback and should keep the passing game extremely efficient and effective. The stats will be better than the talent, but that's fine. Production is production.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The line led the nation in sacks allowed and plowed away for the running game led by senior Joe Kellogg, a left guard who has seen time at right guard and has been one of the team's most dominant run blockers over the last few years. At 6-3 and 303 pounds he's a big blaster to work the ground game around.
The big question mark will be at left tackle where Nate Potter is gone. 6-3, 275-pound senior Faraji Wright has been a backup seeing a little time in a few different spots as a left guard as well as at tackle, but now he's back after having injury issues in the past and should get a long look at the key spot on the outside.
Returning to his spot in the middle is senior Cory Yriarte, a smallish 6-1, 280-pound quarterback for the front five who overcame bad knee injuries to work in a rotation last year. He got a sixth year of eligibility and now should be a rock with good run blocking ability, but 6-1, 280-pound junior Matt Paradis will see time when needed. The former defensive lineman is versatile enough to work at either guard spot if he doesn't push for time at center.
Junior Charles Leno did a great job of keeping Kellen Moore clean at right tackle earning all-star honors. At 6-2 and 303 pounds he's built like a guard, but he has bulked up over the last few years while keeping his terrific athleticism. A nice talent, he could work at left tackle if needed even though he has found a home on the right side.
Junior Jake Broyles got a little bit of starting time last season and now will get a shot to take over the right guard full time. At 6-4 and 289 pounds he has a good frame with smarts and excellent strength for the interior. Built like a tackle he could move to the outside if absolutely needed. Backing him up is veteran Brenel Myers, a versatile blocker who can play either tackle spot but is better at guard. The 6-2, 282-pound senior has seen enough starting time to be fine no matter where he plays.
On the way is Travis Averill, arguably the team's top recruit and the star of the near future. He needs to beef up a little bit to add more weight to his 6-4 frame, but he's not far off at 270 pounds. A terrific athlete is considered a future tackle but he'll also work out at guard.
Watch Out For … the left tackle job. Leno could be the better option with his experience and talent, but Wright appears to be ready to handle the work. Nate Potter was a great talent who might be missed if there are any pass protection problems early on.
Strength: Pass blocking. It's the system as much as the talent, and even though there's a little bit of turnover, don't expect a slew of hits on the quarterback. Boise State won't give up just eight sacks like last year, but it won't be far off.
Weakness: Size. The line doesn't look the part in any way. The proof is in the production, but it's not like this is a front five out of central casting. There aren't any massive road graders and there isn't a Ryan Clady-like talent to get fired up about.
Outlook: With excellent veterans to rely on and decent, versatile options to play around with, the line will keep the production after a brilliant season. It'll help if the quarterback can get the ball out of his hands as quickly and decisively as Kellen Moore did, and it would be nice to have a Doug Martin-like runner emerge to make his own holes at times, but the line will be extremely functional and will be far, far better than the measureables.
Unit Rating: 8
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