Boise State football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Broncos, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About Boise State’s Offense
Look out … the Broncos could be special. It wasn’t always the most efficient offense, but the Broncos kicked it into high gear as the season rolled on. Now it should be absolutely dominant after finishing 15th in the nation averaging over 500 yards per game. The passing attack should be unstoppable at times with quarterback Brett Rypien back along with a solid receiving corps that only got better after the recruiting cycle. In all, nine starters return including four on the line to pave the way for running back Jeremy McNichols.
Key To The Boise State Offense
Just how good can the receiving corps be? With Brett Rypien back, the Broncos are set with talent under center. The receiving corps won’t have any problems with anyone throwing the ball, and now it should be outstanding with Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson a deadly 1-2 punch, and with tight end Jake Roh a dangerous receiver coming off a 33-catch season. Throw into the mix JUCO transfer Cedrick Wilson – a superstar 6-3, 190-pound player who could be among the league’s best wide receivers right away – and the passing game should be outstanding.
What You Need To Know About Boise State’s Defense
There’s plenty of turnover, but there weren’t any problems this offseason with the defense looking in midseason form at times. Even so, it’s going to be a bit of a work in progress finding four new starters up front. On the plus side, Tanner Vallejo and Ben Weaver should form one of the league’s best linebacking tandems, and Boise State is great at reloading in a hurry on defense. The secondary has to replace star safety Darian Thompson and corner Donte Deayon, but there aren’t any major worries. The replacements should be more than fine and the nation’s 12th-ranked defense should be a rock once again.
Key To The Boise State Defense
It’s all about the ability to stop the run. The BYU loss early on was an anomaly in a miracle type of comeback for the Cougars, but the Broncos’ other three losses came on the three-worst days of the year by the run defense. Utah State, Air Force, and New Mexico all have mobile quarterbacks and multi-faceted ground games, and they all worked in wins. The defense is going to be a brick wall at times, but considering all the new starters on the line and the depth needing to be developed, holding up against the shifty ground games could be the key to the season.
Boise State Football Will Be Far Better If …
The offense owns third downs. The Broncos were hardly awful at keeping the chains moving, converting 41% of their third down chances, but there was a big problem when the offense struggled to go on marches. It all tied together in some of the key losses – the run defense was just okay, and the offense couldn’t hit the big drive-moving play. Boise State was 6-0 when converting 44% or more of the third down tries, and in the four losses was at 31% or fewer. The bowl loss to Oregon State to end the 2013 season was the last time Boise State lost when converting 40% or more of its chances.
Best Offensive Player
RB Jeremy McNichols – The Broncos have plenty of all-star offensive talents with Brett Rypien a possible Mountain West Player of the Year candidate if all goes right, and with Thomas Sperbeck ready to be among the league’s most productive receivers, but it’s McNichols who should be the steadying force who makes the offense go. The compact 5-9, 205-pounder scored 26 touchdowns – running for 20 and catching six – as a do-it-all back who’s tough enough to handle the ball 300 times without a problem.
Best Defensive Player
LB Tanner Vallejo – Combining with Ben Weaver, Vallejo helps give Boise State a deadly linebacking tandem to work the defense around. Weaver led the team in tackles, but Vallejo is a bit more of a dangerous all-around playmaker with the quickness and ability to turn into more of a pass rusher and factor in the backfield. One of the team’s top hitters over the last three years, Vallejo is the leader and tough defender who’s strong enough to be the star of yet another great defense.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DE Sam McCaskill – Boise State loses all three starting defensive linemen and hybrid pass rushing star Kamalei Correa, along with a slew of key backups. But don’t weep too much for the Broncos – they’re strong again with plenty of good options frothing at the mouth to get their chances. McCaskill is a 6-3, 257-pound backup who’ll get every chance to take over one of the starting end jobs. Coming up with 17 tackles and half a sack last season. If it’s not him, someone else has to rise up and be a dangerous pass rushing option.
Boise State’s Season Will Be A Success If …
It wins the Mountain West title and gets the Group of Five bowl slot. The talent is in place and the ability is there to run the table, and then things become really, really interesting in the playoff discussion if the Broncos can beat Washington State, Oregon State, and beat a strong San Diego State in the Mountain West title game. But before thinking about that, just getting to the conference championship would be a feat with road games at New Mexico and Air Force. Win those two, hold serve at home, and nothing else should be a problem. That means …
Sept. 10 vs. Washington State. Throw in the date at Oregon State a few weeks later, too, because these are going to be the two games that everyone looks at late in the season if – and it’s hardly a given – Boise State is able to roll through the Mountain West slate. But let’s set the bar high and say it’ll get to a conference championship unscathed, so in the world of college football public opinion, the two games against Power Five teams matter. It’s not like the Broncos are playing USC and Oregon – they have to rip up the Cougars at home, and with a week to prepare, the Beavers on the road.
Fun Stats From 2015
– Sacks: Boise State 33 for 210 yards – Opponents 31 for 191 yards
– First Quarter Scoring: Boise State 139 – Opponents 47
– Punt Return Average: Opponents 11.4 yards – Boise State 5.3 yards
Prediction For 2016
What’s going to happen to Boise State football this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …