On August 31st, 2019, TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida will showcase a talented team eager to get a monkey off its back.
The Case For The Broncos:
Boise State finished their 2018 campaign 10-3 with a cancelled bowl game. Foul weather sent the broncos packing and provided a sour salute to the senior class and others who left for the NFL draft. Four year starting quarterback Brett Rypien is currently fighting for a spot as a backup in Denver, and running back Alexander Mattison is making a name for himself in Minnesota as a 3rd round draft pick. Undoubtedly, the Broncos have been spoiled in the quarterback and running back department over the past decade–producing the most winningest quarterback (50-3 record) in Kellen Moore, and having 10 straight thousand-yard rushing yard seasons. Chase Cord, coming back from an ACL tear last fall, is the quarterback with the most experience, but Coach Harsin still hasn’t announced who will be under center for the first snap, or who will be taking handoffs. While there are still a few questions as to who will start and who will play on the scout team, one cold hard fact is the depth on the Boise State roster.
Boise State will exhibit their best group of offensive lineman since the classic 2007 Fiesta Bowl overtime victory over Oklahoma, with the help of marquee athletes such as Ezra Cleveland (redshirt junior), John Molchon (redshirt senior), Eric Quevedo (redshirt senior), and John Ojukwu (redshirt sophomore). After struggling to protect Rypien for the first half of last season, the boys up front rallied and came together. Whoever ends up being named as the starting QB will have quite the arsenal of receivers to choose from and can trust he will have time to throw the rock downfield. Octavius Evans was expected to put up big numbers in 2018 but was limited due to injury. Expect deep shots to him as his speed and knowledge of the playbook will give him an extra edge. John Hightower, arguably the fastest player on the team, also missed a large portion of last season due to injury. His speed on fly sweeps and bubble screen passes will make him dangerous, especially on third downs. Boise State was one of the top teams in the nation last year on third and fourth down conversions, completing 52% and 59% respectively. That number should be consistent throughout the season, especially with the other help of speedy receivers in CT Thomas, Akilian Butler, and Khalil Shakir. Great decision making downfield comes from great coaching, and Boise State is no stranger to incredible sideline help.
Entering his sixth season as head coach, Bryan Harsin brings the guts, experience, and sense of urgency to win it all; Boise State is the favorite to win the Mountain West Conference, and running the tables will put them in line for a berth in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. With the departure of Andy Avalos, the Broncos welcomed former Eastern Washington defensive Coordinator, Jeff Schmedding. The 15 years spent at Eastern Washington will bring a new sense of commitment and determination to dominate. Schmedding will have plenty to work with, as Boise State returns an elite defense, true to Bronco fashions. DeAndre Pierce, Kekoa Nawahine, Avery Williams, Kekaula Kaniho, Curtis Weaver (Mountain West Conference Defense Preseason Player of the Year), Riley Whimpey (tore his ACL last November, should return by October) have given opposing offenses fits, and the brains that Schmedding brings to the table should help orchestrate a lockdown defense.
Week 1 Prediction:
Although the buzz surrounding the game against the Seminoles and the Vegas line are favoring Florida State for its speed, expect the depth at skill positions and coaching experience to bring the Broncos out on top. Boise State: 31, Florida State: 27