2007 Boise State Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 3, 2007

Preview 2007 Boise State Bronco Offense

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know:
As the Fiesta Bowl showed, there isn't a more creative offensive coaching staff in the country, but the attack, led by a Heisman caliber back in Ian Johnson working behind a tremendous line, could look positively vanilla (by Boise State standards) early on. Ryan Clady leads a dominant front five with four starters returning, and they'll need to be even stronger in pass protection with the quarterback situation unsettled. Taylor Tharp is a good, accurate passer, while Bush Hamdan is a big-armed runner who'll throw it all over the place. The receiving corps has potential, but the top four pass catchers have to be replaced. Even so, look for several different formations and several different looks from game to game.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Taylor Tharp
11-13, 88 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ian Johnson
277 carries, 1,713 yds, 25 TD
Receiving: Vinny Parretta
17 catches, 124 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Ian Johnson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Taylor Tharp and/or junior QB Bush Hamdan
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Jeremy Childs
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Ryan Clady
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Johnson, 2) Clady, 3) C Jeff Cavender
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, Ian Johnson
Weakness of the offense:
Experience in the passing game


Projected Starter
The starting job is still up for grabs. 6-2, 210-pound senior Taylor Tharp was the best of the bunch in spring ball, but not by much, and he'll have to be tremendous this fall to get the job. He has a little bit of experience, and was strong in mop-up duty completing 11 of 13 passes for 99 yards with a touchdown and an interception last year, but he's not going to run, and he has to show he can make the receiving corps better. He has an accurate arm, but not a big one, and the potential to be a great game manager after so many years in the system.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 196-pound junior Bush Hamdan is neck-and-neck with Tharp for the number one gig. He isn't anywhere near the passer that Tharp is, but he's a good runner with a big arm. Can the team live through a passer who'll complete half his passes? With the potential to take off and add more to the ground game, it's possible Hamdan could still be the man.

In the hunt for time is 6-6, 220-pound sophomore Nick Lomax, the son of former NFL star, Neil. He's an athletic bomber who might be the option if the coaching staff wants to build for the future, but for now, he's pushing for backup work along with Michael Coughlin.

Watch Out For ... the situation to still be unsettled late in the game. It's a question of who can move the team the most effectively. Jared Zabransky was maddening at time with his decisions, but he was the ultimate gamer. That's what the coaching staff is looking for.
Strength: Both options can play. It would be nice if a Zabransky emerged from the mix, but the team can win with either Tharp or Hamdan.
Weakness: Limitations. It would be nice to have a quarterback who could throw accurately like Tharp while having Hamdan's arm and running skills.
Outlook: It's easy to hand off to Ian Johnson 25 times a game, but it'll be up to whoever limits mistakes and makes the plays on third downs. The quarterback battle will be the talk of the WAC, and there might be some looking over the shoulder by whoever gets the nod against Weber State.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starter
5-11, 194-pound junior Ian Johnson had a great freshman season showing flashes of greatness as a home-run hitter, but he proved last year with a 1,713-yard, 25 touchdown season that he could be tough around the goal line as well as a flashy runner with a gaudy 6.2-yard average. The concern about him was whether or not he could become a workhorse, and he answered that with nine games with 20 caries or more with a low yardage game of 88 yards in a blowout of Utah. Out this spring to rest and gear up, he's hitting the weights to get bigger and stronger to handle the pounding. While he's a good receiver, he only caught eight passes for 55 yards

Projected Top Reserves: With Johnson sitting on the sidelines in spring ball, 5-9, 161-pound redshirt freshman Jeremy Avery got plenty of work to try to grow into a number two role. While he's not all that big, he's tough runner who can find his way into the end zone and can fly when he gets the ball in space.

Redshirt freshman Jarvis Hodge is a bigger backup option than Avery, but he doesn't have the same burst. He's 5-9, 193 pounds with enough speed to crank out yards in chunks, but when the team is looking for another runner besides Johnson and Avery, it'll likely look to receiver Vinny Perretta.

When the team uses a fullback, which won't be all that often, it'll be up to power running senior Jon Helmandollar to step in. The 215 pounder was a star around the goal line with 13 touchdowns over the second half of the 2004 season, sat out the 2005 season, and saw his role reduced last year, running for just 47 yards and a score, with the emergence of Johnson.

Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to be very, very aware of the amount of work Johnson gets. By no means will the star be handled with kid gloves, but the second the game has been decided, he'll be on the bench. He's the key to the offense; he can't be hurt.
Strength: Speed. Johnson can tear off big runs, Avery is a flash of lightning, and Hodge can move. Throw Vinny Perretta the mix, and the Broncos have a ton of big play runners to work with.
Weakness: Proven backups. The more Avery can show right off the bat that he can be a producer, the more Johnson can decrease his workload. In a perfect world, Johnson gets just under 20 carries a game with other runners contributing, but that remains to be seen if it can happen.
Outlook: Ian Johnson is one of the nation's elite running backs with the talent to carry the offense on his back. As long as he stays healthy, he could be a threat for 2,000 yards with the great line he has in front of him. However, if Avery and Hodge turn out to be solid, getting Johnson 1,5000 yards, and around 600 between the top backups, would be more desirable.
Rating: 8.5


Projected Starter
With the loss of all the top receivers, 6-0, 184-pound sophomore Jeremy Childs has to step up and become a star at the X after catching 14 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. He was a big-time recruit for the program two years ago (he could've gone to almost any Pac 10 school)
after catching 85 passes for 1,258 yards and 22 scores as a high school senior at Los Alamitos High in California. It's not a stretch to say he could eventually be far better than any of last year's starters (who are all in NFL camps).

5-9, 194-pound do-it-all junior Vinny Perretta, who'll get a little work at tailback as well as receiver, will start on the inside Z position. He caught 17 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, was third on the team in rushing with 55 carries for 316 yards and three scores, and threw one legendary five-yard touchdown pass to tie up the Fiesta Bowl. While he's not a number one receiver, he's a talented, quick target who makes plays.

Trying to take over for star tight end Derek Schouman will be 6-2, 244-pound senior Ryan Putnam after serving mostly as a blocker. He caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, and while he won't be Schouman as a receiver, he'll be good enough to keep the chains moving.

Also in the two-tight end mix will be 6-2, 247-pound sophomore Richie Brockel after making two catches for 20 yards in a limited role. He's a smart, tough athlete who can also serve as a fullback if and when the offense uses one. Early on, he'll be more of a blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: While he won't replace Childs, junior Toshi Franklin showed enough this spring to make him a key backup on the outside. He hasn't made a catch yet in his Bronco career, but he's a good athlete with the hands and wheels to come up with a few deep plays.

With 6-3, 231-pound size, junior Julian Hawkins is one of the team's most interesting options on the outside. More of a big tight end than an X receiver, he could pose major mismatch problems.

Working behind Perretta will be a combination of junior Tanyon Bissell and sophomore Aiona Key. The 6-4, 194-pound Key is one of the best athletes in the corps, and is tough enough to serve as a good downfield blocker, while Bissell is more of a special teamer and possession receiver. Each will see plenty of action when Perretta lines up at tailback.

6-3, 247-pound senior Sherm Blaser is the main backup tight end. Out last year after suffering a foot injury, he should be a decent receiver with nine career catches to his credit. He can also block.

Watch Out For ... lots of Bissell and Key. Wanting to keep Ian Johnson fresh, Perretta will see plenty of action in the backfield and could end up with more than the 55 carries he got last year. That means someone else has to become a reliable target at the Z for that to happen.
Strength: Quickness. Perretta is tough to contain, and Childs has the total package. The backups can all run good routes and they can all find the openings.
Weakness: Experience. You don't lose targets like Schouman, Legedu Naanee, Jerard Rabb and Drisan James without taking a hit, even if Perretta, James and Franklin all appear to be ready to step in and shine.
Outlook: While the passing game won't be as efficient or as effective, it could be dangerous if the new starters play up to their potential. The biggest issue will be at tight end, Putnam and Brockel aren't Schouman. Coming up with the right rotation will be vital, and living through the inevitable growing pains of the new starting quarterback, whoever that turns out to be, will be necessary.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The veteran line that did a phenomenal job last year gets four starters back, anchored around All-American Ryan Clady at left tackle. The world got to see just how good he is in the Fiesta Bowl, and now the 6-6, 319-pound junior is starting to get the attention that WAC fans knew he deserved all along. A punishing run blocker, he's also tremendous in pass protection with a great combination of size, quickness and strength.

Next to Clady at left guard will once again be 6-4, 304-pound senior Tad Miller. Benefiting from playing next to a star, Miller will be an All-WAC caliber player himself in his fourth season as a starter. He's among the league's steadiest, most consistent blockers.

In the middle returns 6-2, 286-pound senior Jeff Cavender, after seeing time throughout his career at other spots on the front five. The original idea was to start him at right guard again, but a torn ACL to expected starter, Paul Lacariello, forced the move back to the middle, where he started as a sophomore. While not a dominant blocker, he's physical and has all-star technique. He'll make the All-WAC team.

With Cavender moving to center, 6-3, 331-pound junior Andrew Woodruff, who was a tackle last year, will step into a more natural spot at guard. One of the team's strongest players, he's a punishing hitter who turned out to be surprisingly strong in pass protection. His versatility is one of the keys to the line.

In the vacant right tackle spot, for now, will be 6-5, 300-pound senior Dan Gore, but he could quickly become a backup if Woodruff moves outside. The former defensive lineman learned the ropes last year as an unused reserve, and with his size and athleticism should do well with a great foursome to work around.

Projected Top Reserves: The combination on the line partially depends on the Achilles heel of 6-2, 293-pound senior Pete Cavender. One of the team's top blockers, he tore his tendon in fall practice last year and missed the entire season. The line moved on without missing a beat, but if he's ready, he'll step in at right guard and Woodruff will move back outside to tackle.

Also in the hunt for the right guard spot will be senior Jeff Biedermann, who's versatile enough to play center and just experienced enough to see time. While he isn't Cavender, he's good enough to potentially allow Woodruff to move.

Watch Out For ... Woodruff to spend most of his time at right tackle. It's not that Gore can't play, it's that Woodruff, despite being a perfect fit at guard, did such a good job on the outside. Expect Biedermann or Cavender to allow it to happen.
Strength: Experience and talent. This isn't just an overachieving group that happens to be good because it plays in the WAC; this line can beat up anyone. With four returning starters, there's no reason to expect a slip from last year.
Weakness: Depth. All the returning experience makes it hard for younger players to see meaningful time. It might be tough early on to rotate the backups in to get them the work needed to be ready.
Outlook: The line is going to be a killer as is, but it could be truly special if Pete Cavender is 100%. Lucariello's knee injury threw a wrench into the overall plans, but this is still the WAC's best line and there isn't even a remotely close second. However, there can't be any more major injuries.
Rating: 8.5



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