2013 Boise State Preview – Offense

Posted Jun 2, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Boise State Bronco Offense

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Boise State Preview | 2013 Boise State Offense
- 2013 Boise State Defense | 2013 Boise State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: It always seems like Boise State’s offense is rebuilding in some way, but it’s always effective. Overall it took a step back last season, lacking the pop and explosion it enjoyed with Kellen Moore, Doug Martin, Titus Young and Austin Pettis around, but it did its job. Now the pressure is on offensive coordinator Robert Prince to keep the production rolling. It might not have been pretty, but quarterback Joe Southwick and his serviceable group of veteran receivers kept the mistakes to a minimum and came up with an effective year. The running back situation isn’t deep, and the line has to replace three starters, but the ground game should be solid with Jay Ajayi and Derrick Thomas a good twosome to take over for D.J. Harper, and the blocking up front will be fantastic – especially in pass protection – led by all-stars Matt Paradis at center and Charles Leno, Jr. at left tackle.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Joe Southwick
248-371, 2,730 yds, 19 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Jay Ajayi
82 carries, 548 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Matt Miller
66 catches, 769 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Joe Southwick
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore RB Jay Ajayi
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Holden Huff
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Charles Leno
Top three all-star candidates: 1) C Matt Paradis, 2) Leno, 3) WR Matt Miller
Strength of the offense: Efficiency, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Line Depth, Explosion


Senior Joe Southwick had the impossible task of replacing Kellen Moore, and while he didn’t bomb away and he didn’t make the passing game sing, he did a nice job overall completing 67% of his throws for 2,730 yards and 19 touchdowns with seven picks. He even added a little mobility with 121 yards. At 6-1 and 202 pounds he’s not all that big, and he doesn’t have a huge arm, but he’s accurate and he doesn’t make a slew of huge mistakes, spreading out his interceptions over seven games, and he got better as the year went on finishing up with nine touchdown passes and no interceptions over his final four outings. There’s nothing special about his game, and he’ll never be Moore, but he can move the offense and be an ultra-reliable leader for the Broncos.

The tentative No. 2 option is junior Grant Hedrick, but he’ll be pushed. He saw a little bit of garbage time over the last few years completing 12-of-17 throws last season for 116 yards, but he’s more of a runner and can come in on goal line packages scoring three times with 32 yards. The 6-0, 200-pound former Oregon Player of the Year is more than a Wildcat option, but he’s not the passer that Southwick is. He’ll have to hold off redshirt freshman Nick Patty, a fantastic scout teamer who might be the future of the attack. Small, he’s just 5-10 and 200 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 two years ago, 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.

Watch Out For … Ryan Finley. The Broncos have a slew of young quarterback options ready to replace Southwick next season, but the 6-4, 185-pound Finley offers something different – size. A pro-style passer with the arm and ability to be more of a downfield playmaker, he’s smart, mobile and potentially the right guy to take the passing attack to a whole other level.
Strength: Accuracy. You can’t play quarterback at Boise State if you’re hovering around a 55% completion rate. This group of quarterbacks can move better than Moore could, and all of them can connect on short-to-midrange passes. You can’t teach accuracy, and this coaching staff doesn’t have to.
Weakness: The really, really big moment. Kellen Moore was Kellen Moore because he came up huge against the big guys. Southwick was fine overall, but two of his worst games came against Michigan State and San Diego State – both losses – and he struggled against BYU and Fresno State. In those four games he threw just one touchdown pass and three picks. However, he was terrific in the bowl win over Washington.
Outlook: You know what you’re going to get. It’s Boise State, so the quarterback play will always be effective. Southwick will complete close to 70% of his passes, he’ll move the chains and he’ll be ultra-effective. The backup options are more experienced in the system and strong enough to step in if needed.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

The running game had to replace Doug Martin, and it did just fine with D.J. Harper tearing off 1,137 yards and 15 scores. 6-0, 215-pound sophomore Jay Ajayi is the next man up after finishing second on the team with 548 yards and four scores. He came up with a big performance when needed against New Mexico tearing off a 71-yarder for a six-carry, 118-yard, one score day in the tight win, and as the season wore on he was good for around eight carries a game. A strong, pounding back, the Texas native won’t do much as a receiver like Harper did, but he has wheels to go along with his bulk and could turn into another Martin-like runner.

Adding instant depth is JUCO transfer Derrick Thomas, a 6-0, 207-pounder from Butler CC who ran for 829 yards and seven score last year on the way to the NJCAA national title game. More than just a runner, he’s a quick receiver who can become a third down option in the same backfield as Ajayi.

5-11, 238-pound sophomore Jamal Wilson is a linebacker playing fullback. He’ll never get the ball outside of the occasional catch, but he’s a tough, physical blocker who got in a little bit of work last season. He’s built like a brick wall and should make the position his over the next three years.

Watch Out For … Aaron Baltazar. Thomas is the instant helper, but the Broncos need running backs and the 5-11, 185-pound true freshman could provide a flash of lightning as a runner, receiver or kick returner. The California native is physical and could be moved to defensive back if absolutely needed, but the Broncos need him in the backfield.
Strength: The look. Boise State running backs always seem to have a nice blend of size and speed. Whether it’s Ian Johnson, Doug Martin or D.J. Harper, the Broncos generate yards in chunks, and this group is no different.
Weakness: Proven difference-makers, Ajayi has never carried a full workload, and Thomas is a JUCO guy looking to prove himself. The depth is lacking in a big, big way, and if Ajayi goes down there will be huge problems.
Outlook: The running game will be fine. The passing attack carries the Boise State offense, but Ajayi fits the mold and should be able to tear off 1,000 yards now that he’s getting more of the work. Thomas is ready to become a factor right away, and he’ll need to with a big hole among the reserves.
Unit Rating: 6.5


The receiving corps is loaded and should come up with a huge season, and it all starts with junior Matt Miller at the outside X position. The Broncos needed a new No. 1 target to step up and shine two years ago, and the 2009 Gatorade Montana Player of the Year did his part with 62 catches for 679 yards and nine scores. He came up even bigger last season as Joe Southwick’s main man with 66 grabs for 769 yards and five touchdowns, but his only truly big day game against Nevada with seven catches for 127 yards and a score – his first 100-yard game of his career. The 6-3, 218-pounder isn’t a true deep threat, but he’s an ultra-reliable chain-mover with great hands and route running ability.

Also returning is senior Kirby Moore, Kellen’s brother, who followed up a nice 2011 with 36 catches for 368 yards and a touchdown. At 6-3 and 206 pounds he has the size and he doesn’t miss on an assignment, but he’s purely a midrange target who can come up with a few grabs per game. He’ll combine with 6-4, 215-pound senior Geraldo Boldewijn, a prototype target with size, speed and raw skills, but without the production to match. The Amsterdam native caught 18 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns, but he’s always going to be raw, playing just one year of high school ball before joining the Broncos.

5-6, 158-pound sophomore Shane Williams-Rhodes is a smallish all-purpose playmaker who caught 25 passes in his first year, but he didn’t to anywhere averaging just 5.7 yards per grab with a score. The quickness and moves are there, and he can run a little bit getting 21 carries for 97 yards and two scores, but his real worth is as a kickoff returner averaging 24.9 yards per try. As promising as he might be, he’s not as fast as Dallas Burroughs, an Idaho state championship sprinter who might not be big at 5-8 and 171 pounds, but he can fly. Now he has to use his wheels more after catching just four passes for 100 yards last season.

6-4, 238-pound senior Gabe Linehan is a reliable receiver when healthy, catching 23 passes for 242 yards two seasons ago, but he was lost for the season early on with a hamstring injury after catching just one pass for 23 yards. A good all-around athlete, he has go-to guy potential, while 6-5, 221-pound sophomore Holden Huff is more like a big wide receiver at the position seeing spot starting time in Linehan’s absence catching 17 passes for 250 yards and four scores. He’s not going to block anyone, but he’s a playmaker going two-for-two in the bowl win against Washington scoring on both of his catches.

Watch Out For … Kendal Keys. The Broncos signed a slew of good-looking receiver prospects, but it’s Keys who should turn out to be the best on the lot. The 6-2, 196-pounder out of San Diego is a deep ball threat with great hands and No. 1 target route-running potential.
Strength: Experience. This was a veteran crew coming into last season, and now it’s really loaded with experience with Miller, Moore and Williams-Rhodes all knowing their roles and the depth developed enough to step in and do more.
Weakness: Really big plays. There were a few home runs, but not a lot of them with the receiving corps averaging a meager 11 yards per catch. This is an effective group, but it’s not flashy and it’s not going to stretch the field.
Outlook: It’s a solid receiving corps, but it’s not spectacular. Everyone runs great routes and everyone sucks in everything that comes their way, but there isn’t a Titus Young or Austin Pettis who’ll destroy defenses. Miller and Moore are very good, very sound receivers who’ll make the passing game rock, and the return of Linehan gives the Broncos a terrific pair of tight ends.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Offensive Line

The line is fine, but it has to come up with a few big replacements. However, the two returning starters are in the key spots led by 6-4, 294-pound senior Charles Leno at left tackle. The veteran did a nice job of keeping Kellen Moore clean at right tackle, and he followed it up with an All-Mountain West season doing the same for Joe Southwick. He’s not a blaster, but he’s quick and athletic with the ability to handle everyone’s speed rusher. He’ll be the star again on the outside, while former defensive lineman Matt Paradis is back in the middle after starting every game at center. A bit of a surprise, he was supposed to be a key backup, but he turned into a First Team All-Mountain West performer with great athleticism and decent 6-3, 293-pound size. He’s a technician as well as a team leader.

Looking to take over at right tackle is Reed Odhiambo, a 6-4, 309-pound big hitter who’s going to be great for the ground game, but he has to prove he can be steady in pass protection. He got his feet wet last year and did fine, and with his smarts and big frame he should be able to rise up and be fine for the next three years. Also stepping into a starting role on the right side is 6-5, 299-pound senior Jake Broyles, who’s built like a tackle but will work at guard after missing most of last season hurt. A spot starter a few years ago, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy with an ankle problem he hasn’t been able to shake after suffering a toe injury two years ago.

Pushing hard for a guard job and at the ready if Broyles goes down again is redshirt freshman Travis Averill, arguably the team’s top recruit two years ago with 6-3, 292-pound size and terrific athleticism. He packed on over 20 pounds since coming to Boise, and while his future might be at tackle, he’ll start out working in the guard rotation.

The left guard job is also open with 6-3, 297-pound senior Spencer Gerke ready to take on the role after starting six times last season in the interior. A good recruit for the program in 2009, he has been a steady part of the rotation and learned on the fly, and now the job is his. A tough run blocker, he’s not going to bury his man, but he’ll generate a push.

Watch Out For … Eli McCullough, a future starting tackle who needs to hit the weights hard. At 6-4 and 265 pounds he has the frame and he has the strength, but now he needs the raw bulk. It might take a few years, but he’ll be a key part of the offensive line puzzle with all-star potential at left tackle.
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. The line gave up eight sacks two years ago, and in a rebuilding mode allowed just ten last season. Don’t expect anything to change.
Weakness: Power. The Boise State lines are always more effective than dominant, relying more on technique and scheme then raw blasting ability. Even so, this group should be able to hold its own, even if it’s not able to destroy anyone for the ground game.
Outlook: There’s a nice mix of proven veterans and promising career spot-starters who seem ready to step up. It might not be the most talented line in the Mountain West, but as always, it’ll be among the most effective. It’ll be a functional group that goes beyond the measurables and talent.
Unit Rating: 7.5
- 2013 Boise State Preview | 2013 Boise State Offense
- 2013 Boise State Defense | 2013 Boise State Depth Chart