2009 Boise State Preview - Offense
Boise State WR Austin Pettis
Boise State WR Austin Pettis
Posted Jun 4, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Boise State Bronco Offense

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2009 - Offense

2009 CFN Boise State Preview | 2009 Boise State Offense
2009 Boise State Defense | 2009 Boise State Depth Chart
2008 BSU Preview | 2007 BSU Preview | 2006 BSU Preview

What you need to know: There are some major question marks, but there were concerns last year, too, and the Broncos rolled once again with the nation's 12th best scoring attack and averaged 441 yards per game. It all starts with QB Kellen Moore, a cool, calm playmaker who makes everyone around him better. As long as he gets time and his receivers can come up with yards after the catch, the nation's 11th most efficient passing attack will be fine even though four of the top five pass catchers from last year are gone. Ian Johnson was one of those top receivers, and he was also the leading rusher. However, he won't be missed as much as many might think with D.J. Harper ready to help fill the void in a regular rotation with Jeremy Avery. The line will be out of this world ... next year. This is a young group without any seniors and with injury problems on the right side. However, if everyone's healthy, the line will be great in pass protection once again and should be serviceable for the ground game.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kellen Moore
281-405, 3,486 yds, 35 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Jeremy Avery
111 carries, 614 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Austin Pettis
49 catches, 567 yds, 9 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Kellen Moore
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OT Matt Slater
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Titus Young
Best pro prospect: Senior FB Richie Brockel
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Moore, 2) RB Jeremy Avery, 3) WR Austin Pettis
Strength of the offense: Kellen Moore, Young talent
Weakness of the offense:
Receiver, Offensive line combination


Projected Starter
There was a battle for the starting job throughout last offseason, with left-handed sophomore Kellen Moore barely coming up with the starting nod. It turned out to be the right move as Moore completed 69% of his passes with 25 touchdowns and ten interceptions, while rushing for a score. At 6-0 and 184 pounds he's not big and he doesn't have a rifle arm, but he's deadly accurate fitting the Bronco mold. He set the Washington state high school record for touchdown passes with 173. Ultra-efficient and generally mistake-free, outside of a three-pick day in the win over Nevada, he's great at getting the ball to his receivers on the move and he's a great decision maker for his age.

Projected Top Reserves: Moore is the unquestioned starter, but 6-5, 220-pound junior Michael Coughlin isn't a bad option if needed. Big, strong, and accurate, he hasn't gotten much of a chance, completing 3-of-5 passes for 13 yards and a score last year, but he has the talent to push the passing game deep to keep the offense moving. Very smart and ready to step in, he's a good No. 2 passer to rely on.

Redshirt freshman Drew Hawkins will be developed for the future. The son of former Boise State head man, and current Colorado head coach, Dan Hawkins, Drew is 6-2, 175 pounds, and has an accurate arm. He's a smart passer, but he isn't his brother, Cody, and he doesn't have big-time upside.

Watch Out For ... Moore to be even better. There's no worry about any sort of a sophomore slump after a strong spring. He has a better command of the offense than last year and should be even sharper.
Strength: Moore's efficiency. The offense doesn't ask the quarterbacks to do anything crazy, it's all about getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers as quickly as possible. Moore can do that.
Weakness: Backup experience. Moore was so good and so durable, and needed all the time he could get in his first year, that there was little time for Coughlin to step in. While Coughlin should be fine if he has to step in, the difference between Moore and Coughlin could mean the BCS.
Outlook: Moore was terrific in his first year at the helm, and while he might not be spectacular, he'll be consistently good. He's a leader and a star to build around for the next three seasons, but there needs to be more development and playing time for the backups. The team can't become too reliant on Moore without having Coughlin at the ready.
Rating: 8

Running Backs

Projected Starter
While Ian Johnson was the signature star of the running game, Jeremy Avery was just as effective when he got his chances. The 5-9, 171-pound junior finished second on the team with 614 yards and four touchdowns, highlighted by a 156-yard, two touchdown day in the win over Idaho averaging a school record 14.2 yards per carry.
While he's a good receiver, he wasn't used as much as he should've been with just 16 catches for 226 yards. Flashier than Johnson, when he gets into the open he'll make big things happen.

Senior fullback Richie Brockel is a hard-hitting blocker who can pave the way for the running game or be used as a receiver. He only caught ten passes for 94 yards and two scores, but he has the hands to do far more and can be used like a tight end or H-Back if needed. The 6-2, 244-pounder has to get healthy after missing time this spring, and when he gets right, he'll be a good NFL prospect getting a long look from the next level types.

Projected Top Reserves: While Avery is likely the No. 1 runner, junior D.J. Harper will be No. 1A. The 5-9, 192-pound junior ran for 265 yards and four touchdowns with steady work throughout the season, and now he'll see an increased role. Experienced, he has been the No. 3 option in the rotation for the last two seasons and will be just fine if he has to handle the ball for ten or more carries per game. With a bit more power than Avery, he can run it inside or out.

Redshirt freshman Matt Kaiserman was the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year in 2007 after rushing for 1,782 yards and 26 touchdowns, and catching four scores, in his senior year. 6-0 and 194 pounds, he's not all that big, but he's slippery, fast, and has a nose for the goal line. He'll eventually be used in a variety of ways.

Watch Out For ... running back-by-committee. While Johnson had a disappointing final season with just 766 yards, he was still the team's leading rusher and the top option. The Broncos will now use more of a rotation with Avery the top back but with Harper a step behind.
Strength: Kellen Moore. Because of the accuracy and the proficiency of the short to midrange passing game, the running attack doesn't need to carry the offense. That's not to say the ground attack will be ignored, but it won't have to be everything for the attack.
Weakness: Power. Johnson wasn't all that big, but he always cranked out the hard yards when needed. Avery and Harper are willing backs who'll run inside whenever they have to, but they're not going to run over anyone.
Outlook: The running game took a step back in production last season, but that was partly because the passing game became even more efficient and productive. It'll be a major stretch to get anywhere near last year's mark of 1,980 yards, and will likely be more like a 1,600-yard season, with Avery and Harper combining forces to average over five yards per carry and to crank out more home runs.
Rating: 7


Projected Starter
Gone are most of the top targets from last year, but one key player, Austin Pettis, returns. The 6-3, 200-pound junior finished second on the team with 49 catches for 567 yards, and he led the way with nine scores with all of them coming in a midseason stretch of seven games, highlighted by a nine-grab, 126-yard, two touchdown day against Nevada. He came from out of nowhere two years ago to be the team's second-leading target. The second-team All-WAC honoree will be the No. 1 target at the Z position.

Stepping in at the outside X position will be junior Titus Young after making just ten catches for 168 yards and a score and running for 52 yards and two touchdowns in just three games before getting suspended. He's an electrifying playmaker who averaged 16.8 yards per grab and will be the team's most dangerous deep threat. Now that he's back in everyone's good graces, for now, he should become a special weapon.

Working at the H will be Tyler Shoemaker and he's about to become a major factor now that he has an expanded role. The 6-1, 214-pound sophomore caught seven passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and now he'll be a key midrange target with good hands and nice route running ability.

6-5, 250-pound junior Tommy Gallarda will return at tight end after making six catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Mostly a blocker, he has the ability to be used more in the passing game after spending the last few years figuring out what he's doing. A star high school defensive end, he's a receiver now.

Projected Top Reserves: The scout team star is ready to show what he can do in the spotlight. 5-9, 194-pound sophomore Mitch Burroughs didn't get any work last season, but he lit up the defense in practices and now will see time in the rotation both at the Z and at the H. Very quick and tough, he can stretch the field and go over the middle equally well.

Backing up Young at the outside X position will be Chris Potter, a 5-11, 165-pound redshirt freshman who played quarterback as a high school senior and will now be used as a deep threat. Even though he's not a  speedster, he has good upside as an emerging playmaker who'll be used in a variety of ways.

6-4, 232-pound sophomore Kyle Efaw caught 17 passes for 262 yards, and he can also block. With good deep speed and the ability to stretch the field, averaging an impressive 15.4 yards per catch, and now he'll be used more in two tight end sets as a receiver while Gallarda will be used more as a blocker.

Watch Out For ... Young. Now that he's back in the mix, he'll be the home-run hitting gamebreaker who should make a huge impact in several games. He's a tremendous prospect who's about to blow up into a WAC all-star.
Strength: The offense. The coaching staff and the BSU passing attack always gets production out of the passing game as long as the receivers are good route runners. This year's corps can move and will know what its doing. Three should be plenty of big plays made on the move.
Weakness: Jeremy Childs. While Pettis is a good veteran and Young will be tremendous, losing Childs and his team-leading 72 catches, 802 yards, and seven touchdowns will hurt. Vinny Perretta and Julian Hawkins, the team's No. 3 and 4 receivers, respectively, are also gone. The receiving corps isn't starting from scratch, but it's rebuilding.
Outlook: There are several big losses, and there's no way the passing game can lose three great veterans without taking a step back, but Pettis and Young will form a strong 1-2 combination and Efaw is a good tight end who needs to get the ball thrown his way on a more regular basis. But for the corps to fantastic it'll need to get immediate production out of Burroughs and Potter.
Rating: 6

Offensive Line

Projected Starters
There's a battle at left tackle with Matt Slater holding a slight lead going into the fall, but he has to be consistent in every practice. The 6-4, 289-pound junior played in every game last season and was a good reserve. More of a beefed up tight end than a mauling blocker, he's good in pass protection.

Getting the first look at left guard will be sophomore Cory Yriarte, but he needs more playing time and he'll be pushed hard for the job. The 6-1, 284-pounder is a short, squatty blocker, but he gets good leverage, is versatile enough to play center, and should be strong for the running game if he can be consistent. He's a talented player who blocks bigger than his size.

Back at his center job is Thomas Byrd after starting every game. While he's not huge at 5-11 and 282 pounds, he's good. The sophomore is an athletic, tough-as-nails blocker who'll make all-star teams before his career is over. He gets excellent leverage and he rarely makes mistakes.

Is Nate Potter healthy? A strong spot starter last year, he'll get the full-time job at right tackle, Kellen Moore's blindside, if he's ready to go after missing spring ball hurt. At 6-6 and 281 pounds, he's a tall, athlete blocker who was great in pass protection after being put in the unenviable task of replacing Ryan Clady. He isn't an all-star yet, but the sophomore isn't far off.

Also trying to get back to 100% is junior right guard Kevin Sapien after missing all of spring ball. Able to play either guard or tackle, Sapien is more of a natural on the inside as a good run blocking 6-4 and 289 pounds. A pro prospect, albeit a fringe one, he has tremendous upside because of his versatility and his athleticism. He could stand to add a bit more weight, but he's fine as is.

Projected Top Reserves: Looking to work in a rotation with Potter at right tackle is redshirt freshman Michael Ames after serving three years on a church mission. He's not all that big at a beefed up 267 pounds on a 6-4 frame, but he's quick, and he's mature. He'll be strong in pass protection.

Until Sapien is healthy, 6-2, 291-pound junior Will Lawrence will be a key piece to the puzzle. Originally a defensive lineman, the mauler from Maryland is expected to be a tough run blocking option at right guard with size, strength, and upside.

Pushing for time at left tackle behind Slater will be sophomore Garrett Pendergast, a great prospect who was rated as a top high school defensive tackle. He got bigger, a log bigger, and now he's up to 288 pounds on his 6-4 frame. He's good enough, and big enough, to be a backup at either tackle spot.

6-2, 301-pound redshirt freshman Joe Kellogg will battle Yriarte for the starting left guard. 15 pounds heavier than Yriarte, Kellogg is a big, smart blocker who won't make too many mistakes despite his lack of playing time. He's the better run blocking option of the two.

Watch Out For ... a ton of movement and juggling in the lineup. Thanks to injuries and newcomers to the starting mix, four jobs are still up for grabs with Byrd the only one certain to start. There's good potential in the line, but it might take a little while to find the right combination.
Strength: Seasoning. Last year the line was about all the young talent that was stockpiled for the future. Now that promise has to become production with good prospects all across the front five. Several players have been waiting to get their chance to shine, and this is it. There aren't any seniors in the mix, so this group will only get better.
Weakness: Experience ... potentially. If Sapien and Potter are hurt for any length of time, the line goes from being promising, with a little bit of rebuilding to be done, to having to start from scratch.
Outlook: The line was supposed to be a major problem going into last year considering all the reloading needing to be done, and it came through with a dominant year in pass protection. It wasn't the most physical group, but it got the job done. This year's line needs to figure out who the five best players are and run with it. Cohesion is a must considering four positions are still in limbo going into the fall.
Rating: 6.5