What you need to know ...
If you're looking for a big drop-off now that Dan Hawkins
is gone and Chris Petersen is running the team and not the
offense, it's not going to happen. Bryan Harsin will handle the
attack and everything will keep on humming with the WAC's best
line paving the way for a good backfield and allowing QB Jared
Zabransky more time to try to get his groove back. The receiving
corps is loaded with experience and talent. If Zabransky can cut
down on his interceptions and be more efficient, 40 points a
game is an attainable goal.
Passing: Jared Zabransky
202-342, 2,562 yds, 18 TD, 16 INT
Rushing: Ian Johnson
119 carries, 663 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Jerard Rabb
38 catches, 572 yds, 5 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore OT Ryan Clady
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior OT
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Jeremy
Best pro prospect: Clady
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Clady, 2) OG Tad Miller, 3)
QB Jared Zabansky
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, overall
Weakness of the offense:
Is Jared Zabransky going to take
the next step up in his development and cut down on his
interceptions? He'll have his moments when he runs the offense
like a well-oiled machine, but he'll have to be more consistent
and show he can fight through the problems. Taylor Tharp is a
nice number two who can step in and keep things running well.
The key to the unit: If Zabransky is able
to use his mobility and experience to free-lance and make more
big plays than mistakes, things will be fine as long as he's
Quarterback Rating: 8
- Jared Zabransky, Sr. - 262-449, 59%, 2,562 yds, 18 TDs,
16 INT, 107 carries, 262 yds, 2.4 ypc, 11 TD
Zabransky has the tools and the experience to be the WAC's most
important player, but he has to improve after a junior slump.
The coaching staff had challenged him to become a better
thrower, and it didn't happen. While he's a dangerous runner
with the ability to tear off big gains at any time, he's not the
most polished of passers even though he can go through hot
streaks. His biggest problem has been with interceptions
throwing 29 over the last two years most famously with a four
pick day to open last year at Georgia. At a solid 6-2 and 203
pounds, he's as tough as they come physically, but he has to
show he can improve enough to be steadier.
- Taylor Tharp, Jr. - 21-37, 57%, 271 yds, 1 TD, 2
INT, 4 carries, 11 yds, 1 TD
Tharp stepped in at times during blowouts and got his feet wet.
Now he'll be expected to grow even more as the number two
quarterback and become a bigger part of the offense. He has a
decent arm and good mobility, but he needs more experience to be
counted on to be the main man.
- Bush Hamdan, Soph. - 3-8, 38%, 59 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
A promising reserve, Hamdan needs to start showing off a bit
more to hold off Nick Lomax from taking over the number three
spot. He's not huge, but he has a live arm and enough mobility
to be a running threat. He saw a little bit of time last year in
Boise State liked to use a tailback-by-committee approach
last season and it worked well finishing with the WAC's best
rushing attack. Lee Marks, Antwaun Carter and Jeff Carpenter are
gone, but the return of Jon Helmandollar, after taking a year
off for personal reasons, provides the combination
fullback-tailback that can make up for most of the losses. Ian
Johnson is an All-WAC caliber tailback with big-time speed. The
depth is average, so there might be more of a 1-2 punch this
The key to the unit: Ian Johnson and Jon Helmandollar
have to stay healthy. There aren't the options there were last
Running Back Rating: 7
- Ian Johnson, Soph. - 119 carries, 663 yds, 5.6 ypc, 4
TD, 5 catches, 46 yds, 9.2 ypc
Johnson came out of nowhere as a freshman to emerge from the
pack to be a standout. While he hasn't had to be a workhorse
with three 16-carry games, he's good enough to carry the ground
game. A bolt of lightning when he gets a sliver of daylight,
he'll be a home run hitter who'll be more of a factor in the
- Fullback Brad Lau, Sr. - 2 carries, 3 yds, 3 catches,
29 yds, 1 TD
A pure blocking fullback, Lau will likely get the ball in his
hands even less this year with the return of Jon Helmandollar to
power the ball. However, that doesn't mean he can't be used as a
short-yardage runner. At 242 pounds, he's great for the ground
game as the team's most physical fullback.
- Jon Helmandollar, Jr.
Helmandollar ended up sitting out last year taking away one of
the team's key all-around runners. While he's not huge at 5-11
and 215 pounds, he's a fantastic power runner who's unstoppable
on the goal line rushing for 13 touchdowns over the second half
of the 2004 season. He can be used as a fullback as well as a
tailback with good enough hands to become a big part of the
- Brett Denton, Sr. - 14 carries, 27 yds, 1.9 ypc
A pure backup, Denton has seen a little bit of time since his
true freshman season on offense and on special teams. He'll have
to play a bigger role this season combining with Max Davis for
the number three job.
- Fullback Michael Lose, Jr. - 1 carry, -2 yds
At 227 pounds, Lose isn't the physical presence starter Brad Lau
is and will have a hard time seeing too much work on offense
with so many players in the mix. He'll mostly make an impact on
It's a dangerous group with a great combination of
experience, speed and talent with the top three receivers
returning and three good tight end options. Drisan James is an
all-star talent who has to get the ball in his hands as much as
possible, while Jerard Rabb and Legedu Naanee are among the most
dangerous inside targets in the WAC. The real excitement is over
2005 top recruit Jeremy Childs, who'll find a spot somewhere
soon. There are three good tight ends to work with led by Derek
The key to the unit: Everyone has to take advantage
of their chances. All the veterans will have to take turns being
the number one guy.
Receiver Rating: 7.5
- Drisan James, Sr. - 34 catches, 518 yds, 15.2 ypc, 2 TD
James has been a fantastic number two receiver over the last few
years and earned second-team All-WAC honors after solidifying
himself as one of the league's most dangerous players. He only
scored twice, but he caught a 55-yard pass against Idaho and was
used occasionally as a runner. With his fantastic athleticism,
he'll be used even more this year to get the ball in his hands.
- Jerard Rabb, Sr. - 38 catches, 572 yds, 15.1 ypc, 5 TD
Rabb came over from the JUCO ranks and became the team's leading
receiver. Consistent from start to finish, the 6-2, 199-pound
senior proved to be a good inside target with a knack of turning
medium range passes into big plays. He's turning into a strong
route runner who should be Jared Zabransky's favorite target.
- Tight end Derek Schouman, Sr. - 17 catches, 177 yds,
10.4 ypc, 1 TD
An All-WAC caliber tight end, Schouman didn't quite blow up last
year like he was expected to as a receiver, but he remained a
fantastic blocker. At 6-2 and 233 pounds, he makes up for his
lack of huge size with a will to hit in the running game. After
only catching only catching one touchdown last year, he'll be a
bigger part of the red zone offense.
- Legedu Naanee, Sr. - 34 catches, 483 yds, 15.2 ypc,
Naanee went from quarterback to receiver to the team's most
dangerous receiver starting in ever game and leading the way in
yards per catch and touchdowns. He's 6-2 and 228 pounds with
tremendous athleticism, and he'll play a big role as a number
three receiver and a backup behind Jerard Rabb at the Z
- Vinny Perretta, Soph. - 12 catches, 169 yds, 14.1 ypc
The small, speedy sophomore saw a little time in the rotation,
but he didn't do much of anything until the bowl game when he
made four grabs for 84 yards against Boston College. He's quick
enough to be used as a kick returner and has the deep speed to
play behind Drisan James at the X.
- Jeremy Childs, RFr.
It's only a question of time before he becomes the team's top
receiver. He was a huge recruit for the program two years ago
with the talent to have gone almost anywhere on the West Coast
after catching 85 passes for 1,258 yards and 22 scores as a high
school senior at Los Alamitos High in California.
- Tight end Ryan Putnam, Jr. - 4 catches, 41 yds, 1 TD
At 244 pounds, Putnam is the team's biggest tight end and will
mostly be used in running situations. Even so, he caught a few
passes last season in blowouts and should be able to exploit the
openings created by the attention paid to all the other good
- Tight end Jared Hunter, Sr. - 2 catches, 31 yds, 15.5
The former linebacker moved over to tight end any was part of
the rotation. He caught a few passes, and has the makeup to be a
good receiver, but he'll mostly be a blocker.
All-American Daryn Colledge might be gone, but tackle
Ryan Clady and guard Tad Miller are all stars who'll lead the way for
the league's best line. There's more than enough experience and talent
elsewhere to easily match the production of last year's front five, and
now there's more depth and more options to play with. The most
interesting spot will be at right guard where the massive Andrew
Woodruff will step in for an injured Pete Cavender.
The key to the unit: Ryan Keating needs to shine at
right tackle. If he's solid, Jared Zabransky will have ten days to
Offensive Line Rating: 8
- OT Ryan Clady, Soph.
One of the best offensive linemen in the WAC, the 6-6, 319-pound
sophomore is the new star now that Daryn Colledge is gone. Clady spent
last year at right tackle where he had a stellar year. He was dominant
during stretches, and now should grow into an All-America caliber
blocker with a bit more experience.
- OG Tad Miller, Jr.
Certain to be in the hunt for All-WAC honors, Miller is back for his
third season as the starter at left guard where he has been a rock for
the running game. At 6-4 and 304 pounds, he's a big blocker who'll
combine with Ryan Clady to form the league's best left side.
- C Jeff Cavender, Jr.
With 24 straight starts, the junior knows what he's doing in the Boise
State offense. He made the successful move from tackle to center last
season and showed no problem handling the line calls. While he's not
necessarily an All-WAC caliber talent, he's a physical athlete on the
inside who'll be more than steady.
- OG Andrew Woodruff, Soph.
A spot starter last year, the 6-3, 311-pound sophomore is the biggest
player on the line and will likely get the starting spot after the loss
of. Pete Cavender to injury. He has a ton of
upside should be one the team's
- OT Ryan Keating, Sr.
Keating will slide into the job on the right side with Ryan Clady moving
over to the left. He's 6-4 and 319 pounds with with plenty of backup
experience; now he has to become a reliable starter.
- OG Pete Cavender, Jr.
The returning starter at right guard is out for the year after suffering
a ruptured Achilles' tendon. When he returns next year he'll see time at
both guard and center..
- OT Tony Volponi, Sr.
A backup for the last three seasons, the 315-pound senior has enough
experience to step in if needed on the left side behind Ryan Clady.
While he's nowhere near the talent that Clady is, he's a decent athlete
and isn't going to hurt the offense.
- OG Jeff Biedermann, Jr.
Part guard and part center, the 6-3, 303-pound is a physical blocker who
used to see time on the defensive line. He'll start out on the left size
behind Tad Miller.