2008 Boise State Preview - Offense
Boise State RB Ian Johnson
Boise State RB Ian Johnson
Posted Apr 18, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Boise State Bronco Offense

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2008 - Offense

2008 CFN Boise State Preview | 2008 Boise State Offense
2008 Boise State Defense | 2008 Boise State Depth Chart
2007 CFN Boise State Preview | 2006 CFN Boise State Preview

What you need to know:
The nation's fourth best scoring attack, and 12th best overall offense, has some very good parts and some very, very iffy areas. The running backs are incredible with Ian Johnson, Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper as dangerous a trio as any in the country, and the receivers, led by Jeremy Childs and Vinny Perretta, are deep and talented. The quarterback situation will be fine, but a new starter needs to be found among four options. Kellen Moore has the inside track, but senior Bush Hamdan is close behind. The problem is an offensive line that's thin, loses four starters, and has no developed depth whatsoever. Overall the production should continue, but consistency should be a problem early on.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Michael Coughlin
6-14, 95 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ian Johnson
207 carries, 1,041 yds, 16 TD
Receiving: Jeremy Childs
82 catches, 1,045 yds, 9 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Ian Johnson
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman OT Nate Potter
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Titus Young
Best pro prospect: Johnson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Johnson, 2) WR Jeremy Childs, 3) WR Vinny Perretta
Strength of the offense: Running back, wide receiver
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, experienced quarterback


Projected Starter
For the second straight year there's a major quarterback battle with several decent options. Last year, Taylor Tharp won the job and did a great job of keeping the production rolling. While it's still a battle going into the fall, 6-1, 174-pound redshirt freshman Kellen Moore might be the main option to build the offense around for the next four years. While he's not all that big, he fits the Bronco mold with good accuracy, a strong arm, and excellent mobility. He set the Washington state high school record for touchdown passes with 173. If he's consistent in fall practices, he's the option.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 192-pound senior Bush Hamdan was barely beaten out by Tharp last year for the job, and he ended up completing just four of six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. While he's not an elite passer, he's a good runner with a big arm. Can With the potential to take off and add more to the ground game, it's possible Hamdan could still be the man even with Moore and his upside making him the likely No. 1.

6-6, 216-pound junior Nick Lomax, the son of former NFL star, Neil, is a big, athletic bomber who hasn't been able to crack through and make a true run for the starting job. He completed six of 13 passes for 76 yards in his limited time, and now he's the likely third man in the mix.

6-5, 216-pound sophomore Michael Coughlin is being given a bit of a look for the starting job after starring on the scout team. A big, strong, accurate passer, he has to shine when he gets the chance after completing just six of 14 passes for 95 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his limited time.

Watch Out For ... Moore. Close to being thrown into the fire as a true freshman, Moore wouldn't be representing a rebuilding phase for the Broncos, but he'd signal the direction the program would be going in. If he's the starter, he's the face of the program for the foreseeable future. Or at least when Ian Johnson graduates.
Strength: Four decent options. Boise State could plug you into the quarterback job and get 30 touchdowns and 3,000 yards. There isn't a bad choice among the four, but the question will be who can add the biggest spark while being the most consistent.
Weakness: Experience. Everyone has had a chance to dabble here and there with a little bit of playing time, but it was Tharp's show last year. There's a big difference between getting to come off the bench and being the main man who'll have to look over both shoulders after every bad throw.
Outlook: Moore and Hamdan are the main options in the battle for the starting job with Coughlin and Lomax fighting for third. Boise State doesn't rotate its quarterbacks, so the winner this fall is it. It doesn't really matter who the starter will be. He'll hand off to Ian Johnson 25 times a game, complete 65% of his passes, and have a stunning touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
How good is senior Ian Johnson? He ran for 1,041 yards and 16 touchdowns, averaged five yards per carry, and caught 25 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown yet had what was considered an off season. After tearing off 1,713 yards and 25 touchdowns as a sophomore, yeah, he was a bit down
, but he was also hurt last season missing time in two games with a bruised kidney and wasn't quite back to form for a week after coming back. It turned out to be a problem in the bowl game getting just four carries in the loss to East Carolina. After bulking up a little bit, he's hoping to be able to take more of a pounding. The 5-11, 195-pounder, when he's right, has tremendous burst, is a great workhorse, and is automatic around the goal line.

Projected Top Reserves: With Johnson sitting on the sidelines for two games last year, now-sophomore Jeremy Avery filled in and the ground game didn't miss a beat. While he's not a full-season workhorse like Johnson, the 5-9, 172-pound Avery is great when needed rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown against Louisiana Tech and 124 yards and three scores in the win over Fresno State. All three times he got ten carries or more he went over 100 yards, finishing the season with 672 yards and eight scores with a gaudy 6.5-yard-per-carry average. A flashy receiver, too, he caught 14 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

5-10, 191-pound sophomore D.J. Harper is hardly a bad third option. The team's third leading rusher last year came up with 376 yards and six touchdowns, and showed off the speed and power this spring that should make him an even bigger part of the mix. He can bang it between the tackles or take it outside equally well.

Eventually, redshirt freshman Doug Martin will play a big part in the ground game. The offensive scout player of the year, he's a 5-10, 204-pound power back with excellent breakaway speed.

When the team uses a fullback, which won't be all that often, it'll be up to junior Richie Brockel to step in and be a blocker and receiver. He only ran once last year for two yards, but as a part fullback and part receiver, he caught 12 passes for 104 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-2, 249-pounder gives the offense several options.

Watch Out For ... Avery and Harper to get more work. They both proved they can carry the workload, and while it'll still be Johnson's ground game, the less he has to do, the better.
Strength: Speed. Johnson can tear off big runs, Avery is a flash of lightning, and Harper can move. There's a home run waiting to happen no matter who's carrying the ball.
Weakness: The line. It could be tough to repeat the numbers with a new offensive line trying to get its feet wet. These backs need just a little bit of room and they'll be gone, but they can't do it alone.
Outlook: The ground game tore off 2,404 yards and 35 touchdowns last season, and while everyone of note is back, the potential issues on the line, and a new quarterback, will mean everyone will tee off on the backs. If healthy, Johnson is a lock for 1,000 yards, possibly 1,500, and Avery and Harper are good enough to combine for 1,000 yards no matter what Johnson does.
Rating: 9


Projected Starter
Is Jeremy Childs back on the team or not? Suspended at the end of last year, and for spring ball, after getting nailed for plagiarism, he's still trying to get back in the mix. The passing game needs him after an 82-catch, 1,045-yard, nine touchdown season as the team's most dangerous weapon. He was a big-time recruit for the program a few years ago (talent-wise, he could've gone to almost any Pac 10 school), and he proved it right away. With 6-0, 196-pound size, excellent speed, and the production to blow up when needed, he's a true number one target. The only downside, outside of the off-the-field issues, is his lack of scoring production over the second half of last year catching just one touchdown pass over the final five games.

5-9, 190-pound senior Vinny Perretta is a dangerous runner as well as a receiver, but he only saw time in four games last season after suffering a shoulder injury. He made nine catches for 120 yards and ran five times for 30 yards and a score in his limited role, but he's mostly known for his legendary five-yard touchdown pass to tie up the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. While he's not a number one target, he's a very quick, very good complementary receiver.

Taking over at tight end will be 6-2, 233-pound senior Chris O'Neill after catching 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Good in a rotation so far, and will be used in a tandem with fullback/tight end Richie Brockel, O'Neill will be used more in the passing game this year and should be a steady blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: While he's not Childs, 5-11, 165-pound sophomore Titus Young is a major-league playmaker who showed even more flash and potential this spring. After finishing third on the team with 44 catches for 639 yards and five touchdowns, and averaging 14.5 yards per catch, he'll be used even more on the outside as a deep threat. If Childs has any problems, Young can step in and produce.

6-3, 200-pound sophomore Austin Pettis came from out of nowhere and became the team's second leading receiver catching 46 passes for 465 yards and six touchdowns as he came on over the second half of the season. Most of his production came in blowouts, making 23 catches for 260 yards and five touchdowns in a three-game stretch against San Jose State, Utah State and Idaho, but he showed enough upside to be a key target behind Perretta.

With 6-3, 222-pound size, junior Julian Hawkins is one of the team's most interesting options on the outside. More of a big tight end than a wideout, he poses major matchup problems. Fifth on the team with 23 catches for 208 yards, he's a strong midrange threat who provides more bulk and muscle to the mix.

Working his way into the lineup will be senior Toshi Franklin, a slightly disappointing 6-1, 180-pound backup who was a top player in spring ball last year but only caught seven passes for 73 yards. He has good hands and decent enough speed to start doing more.

6-4, 224-pound redshirt freshman Chris O'Neill is a local product, and while getting him to stay home might not have been a big problem, he was still a great recruit for the program. Very athletic and very promising, he's the receiving threat the team was missing at tight end last year.

Watch Out For ... Perretta. The passing game went on to be just fine without Perretta, but he's a veteran playmaker who adds a few new dimensions to the offense with his running ability and good hands.
Strength: Young talent. Childs, assuming he doesn't bolt early for the NFL, will have a year left, and Pettis and Young are sophomores. Efaw is a potential playmaking tight end. There are good pieces to build the future of the receiving corps around, but that future is now.
Weakness: A number one if Childs is out. Perretta could be a very productive main man if needed, but he's a better running mate. Is Pettis or Young ready to make the next step up?
Outlook: Assuming Childs is back and all is fine, the receiving corps will be among the deepest and most dangerous in the WAC. Perretta is a fantastic veteran, Young is a rising superstar, and Pettis is a solid target who'll only get better. This is a good group that'll make the new starting quarterback better than he really is.
Rating: 8

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
Who's going to replace Ryan Clady? Boise State might have gotten better as a program, but it still doesn't get players of Clady's caliber hanging around all that often. Trying to step in and be productive will be 6-6, 269-pound redshirt freshman Nate Potter, a good-looking prospect who projects to become a top pass protector.

The one returning starter is 6-3, 336-pound senior Andrew Woodruff, a solid veteran who started every game at right tackle in 2006 and moved inside to guard last year. While he played right guard, he'll likely move to the left side, and could even step back out to tackle if needed. One of the team's strongest players, he's a punishing hitter with surprising mobility for his size.

Working at the other guard spot, most likely on the right side, will be 6-3, 281-pound senior Jon Gott, a backup on the left side so far. Even after a good spring, he'll need to push to keep the job with youth movement underway. He hasn't been a major factor so far playing in only three games last season, but his seniority makes him a leader by default.

Taking over at center will be 6-0, 277-pound redshirt freshman Thomas Byrd, and he's a good one. A short, squatty blocker with excellent leverage, he should be a fixture in the middle of the line for the next four years. He's an athletic, tough run blocker who'll earn All-WAC honors before his career is over.

Right tackle will be an issue with 6-5, 261-pound sophomore Matt Slater stepping in after serving as an unused backup last year. Looking more like a pumped up tight end than a mauling lineman, he's a good athlete who should be great in pass protection. At least that's the hope.

Projected Top Reserves: Looking for playing time at one guard spot, most likely on the left side, will be senior Ben Iannocchione, a former West Virginia Mountaineer who was a one time superstar recruit who just never panned out.

Adding a bit more size at tackle is 6-3, 270-pound redshirt freshman Garrett Pendergast, a promising prospect who was rated as a top high school defensive tackle as well as a good offensive line prospect. He'll play behind Potter on the left side, but he could end up seeing time at both outside spots.

An up-and-coming center prospect is 6-1, 289-pound redshirt freshman Cory Yriarte, a strong interior player who might end up being moved to guard if Byrd really is the answer in the middle for the foreseeable future. Yriarte is a promising run blocker who should see his share of action.

Watch Out For ... the good pass protection to continue. The Bronco line only allowed 19 sacks last season, and while this year's group won't do that, it's athletic enough to keep the number to around 25.
Strength: Young potential. This is a line that should grow over the next three seasons with redshirt freshmen and sophomore Kevin Sapien playing prominent roles. While it would be nice if it all came together right away and the line became a rock, that's asking for a bit too much.
Weakness: Size. Last year's group wasn't just experienced, it was really big. Gone are the 300 pounders and in are the trimmer, quicker blockers who might not be as punishing right away for the running game.
Outlook: Uh oh. The line won't be too bad with several good recruits from the last few seasons ready to take over, but with four new starters and absolutely no developed depth whatsoever, this will be the make-or-break unit for the team's season. This might be a case of having to take the lumps now and hope for a big payoff by the end of the year or even next year, but that day should come. It just might not be early on.
Rating: 6