2007 Boise State Preview

Posted Jul 3, 2007

What can Boise State do for an encore? After an amazing season complete with a program defining win, Ian Johnson and the Broncos will try to keep the momentum going despite a slew of big personnel changes.

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Boise State Offense Preview | 2007 Boise State Defense Preview
- 2007 Boise State Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN Boise State Preview

So now what?  

After years of being the underground secret that only the diehard fans knew about, Boise State showed the non-believers that their record wasn’t a fluke, and that there’s real, live, tough football being played up Idaho.  

Head coach: Chris Petersen
2nd year: 13-0
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 18, ST 0
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best BSU Players
RB Ian Johnson, Jr.
2. OT Ryan Clady, Jr.
3. S Marty Tadman, Sr.
4. CB Orlando Scandrick, Jr.
5. CB Kyle Wilson, Soph.
6. C Jeff Cavender, Sr.
7. OG Tad Miller, Sr.
8. DE Mike T. Williams, Jr.
9. DE Nick Schlekeway, Sr.
10. OL Andrew Woodruff. Jr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Aug. 30

Weber State

Sept. 8

at Washington

Sept. 15


Sept. 27

Southern Miss

Oct. 7

New Mexico State

Oct. 14


Oct. 20

at Louisiana Tech

Oct. 26

at Fresno State

Nov. 3

San Jose State

Nov. 10

at Utah State

Nov. 17


Nov. 23

at Hawaii

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 Sacramento St W 45-0
9/7 Oregon State W 42-14
9/16 at Wyoming W 17-10
9/23 Hawaii W 41-34
9/30 at Utah W 36-3
10/7 Louisiana Tech W 55-14
10/15 at NMSU W 40-24
10/21 at Idaho W 42-26
11/1 Fresno State W 45-21
11/11 at San Jose St W 23-20
11/18 Utah State W 49-10
11/25 at Nevada W 35-7
1/1 Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma W 43 42 OT

Of course, everyone always wants more, and will expect Chris Petersen and his Broncos to pull off Fiesta Bowl-like miracles every time out against the big boys. While the program really might be here to stay, it’s asking too much for that to happen again this year.

From the new BCS rules adding a fifth big game, to the Hawaii showdown being in Boise, to Fresno State being a bit down, to having a long-time veteran starter at quarterback in Jared Zabransky, to having a veteran defense that had been growing for a few years, everything came together perfectly for 2006 to be a dream season. It isn’t giving Boise State, a program that’s won 86 games in eight years, the proper credit to assume it can’t put together yet another tremendous campaign, but this isn’t last year’s team, and everyone will be gunning for them, more than ever.

The Broncos have been “the hunted” for a long time in the WAC, but now opponents will be looking for a trophy win, and the national spotlight is certain to be on Boise State every week. Teams with the question marks that this one has at quarterback, receiver, defensive tackle, linebacker and in the kicking game, tend to lose a few tight contests. It took a veteran team with supreme confidence that knew exactly what it was doing to come away with wins like the ones last year against San Jose State, Wyoming, and of course, Oklahoma. Yes, the bar is set so high now that losing just two regular season games might be cause for alarm.

Hawaii will be the “it” WAC team this year, Fresno State will rebound, San Jose State will be even nastier, and others, like New Mexico State, will have just enough firepower to pull off a few upsets. You’ll have to forgive Boise State if it’s not too worried, having being through it all before and still winning WAC title after WAC title. It just might be hard to get everyone excited about “just” being the conference champion, after they’ve seen Tempe.

What to watch for on offense: Ground Broncos. The offense has never gotten enough credit for its strong ground game, being regarded as a tricky, somewhat gimmicky attack. The Fiesta Bowl might have given the impression that Petersen and his staff use smoke and mirrors, but when times get tough, the running game kicks in with a power attack that’s surprisingly physical. Until Taylor Tharp or Bush Hamdan and the passing game settle in, expect the offense to revolve around star back Ian Johnson, running behind a good offensive line. However, with center Paul Lucariello out for the year with a torn ACL, it’ll take a while to come up with a steady starting five up front.

What to watch for on defense: More of the same, but not quite as much production. While the D will still be strong, don’t expect it to finish 14th in the nation again.  The run defense always looks good statistically, since few teams in the WAC know how to pound the ball effectively, but the Broncos can also get into the backfield. Relying more on speed and quickness than size and strength, the defense uses a nice rotation on the defensive front and well-timed blitzes to bring pressure from all angles. Expect it to be great at swarming around the ball and gang tackling.

The team will be far better if … the starting quarterback is efficient. Boise State lives off winning the turnover battle and coming through with clutch offensive plays when necessary. That starts with the quarterback, and Tharp and Hamdan have to prove they can be steady. The winner of the starting job isn’t going to be Zabransky when it comes to running the ball, but they have to connect on their third-down throws, keep the chains moving and provide just enough of a passing threat to take the pressure off Johnson and the ground game.

The Schedule: The Broncos get three early chances to build on their 2006 season, facing Washington in Seattle before sneaky-tough home games against Wyoming and Southern Miss. Fortunately, five of the first six games are on the screaming blue turf, before road trips to Louisiana Tech and Fresno State. While San Jose State has to come to Boise, the Hawaii game is in Aloha Stadium, on national TV on a Friday in late November.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Ian Johnson. How can he possibly top last season? All he did was run for 25 touchdowns and 1,714 yards, average 6.2 yards per carry, beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, and melt every woman’s heart and make every man vomit with a nationally televised marriage proposal after beating the Sooners. He bulked up to around 210 pounds to be able to take more of a pounding this year. Considering he handled the ball more than 20 times in eight games, he’s already used to getting hit.

Best Defensive Player: Senior S Marty Tadman. Boise State has plenty of issues on defense going into this year, but the secondary should be set with the return of corners Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson, along with Tadman, their second-leading tackler. Quick enough to be a good punt returner and instinctive enough to pick off 12 passes in his career, with two against Oklahoma, he’ll be the playmaker the rest of the defense revolves around.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Taylor Tharp or junior QB Bush Hamdan. While it would appear to be Tharp’s time to finally take over the reins from Zabransky, he’s in a tight battle. He doesn’t have anywhere near the mobility or arm of Zabransky, but he knows the system and has prepared himself for the last two seasons to step in. Even so, Hamdan ran more with the first team in spring ball.

The season will be a success if ... Boise State wins the WAC title…again. While that might seem like small potatoes now that the program has tasted the big-time, winning the conference title would be a nice achievement considering all the turnover, the bull’s-eye on the back, and the trips to Fresno State and Hawaii.

Key game: Nov. 23 at Hawaii. If all goes according to plan, the hype for this game will be building all year long, creating what could be the most-watched WAC game ever. Hawaii will be ready to make a statement in what should be the battle for the WAC title. By the end of the year, Boise State should have jelled, with all the new starters having 11 games of experience.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First half scoring. Boise State 298; Opponents 96
- Fourth down conversions: Boise State 17-21 (81%); Opponents 10-19 (53%)
- Rushing touchdowns: Boise State 39; Opponents 7


Related Stories
2007 Boise State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 3, 2007
2007 Boise State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 3, 2007
2007 Boise State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 3, 2007

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