Preview 2007 - Offense
2007 Boise State Preview
2007 Boise State Defense Preview
2007 Boise State Depth
2006 CFN Boise
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
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
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Ryan Clady
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Johnson, 2) Clady, 3) C
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
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.
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
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)
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
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
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.
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
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.