Will Alexander Mattison Fill The Footsteps Of Jeremy McNichols?
Boise State football has had success at running back with three previous starters are in the NFL.
Boise State running backs get the benefit of the doubt, will that success continue?
Doug Martin, Jay Ajayi and Jeremy McNichols are the three previous Boise State running backs and all three were drafted and are currently in the NFL. Each year after those players have moved on there were questions about whether there would be a drop off in the Broncos running game, but each time the running back position has been a strength for Boise State.
Even with the track record of having the three prior ball carriers heading to the NFL there still must be the obligatory caution with the running game heading into 2017 for Boise State. After spring ball it is clear that the starter will be Alexander Mattison.
Mattison will have the gigantic shoes to fill of McNichols who was not just one of the best running backs in the Mountain West, but one of the best in all of college football and was ultimately drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
To say McNichols was the main back would be an understatement as he averaged 24.2 carries per game and the backups combined to carry the ball only 8.1 times per game. He was third in the Mountain West with 1,709 yards and led the conference with 23 touchdowns, nationally those numbers were in the top 10.
Mattison touched the ball sparingly and averaged a modest 4.1 yards per carry, but behind him the depth is not great with the only other player to have carries is Ryan Wolpin who is a walk-on. There is potential down the depth chart with former three-star recruits in true freshman Drake Beasley and redshirt freshman Robert Mahone, but this depth is unproven and neither have seen FBS action.
That leaves Mattison as the starter after he had an impressive spring. The good thing about this offense is that the running game will not be the main focus as the passing game has experience with quarterback Brett Rypien who is entering his third years as the starter.
There is talent in the backfield but the offensive line will play an impact on how well this running game performs because the Broncos lost three starters who had 119 career starts and each of those were all-Mountain West players. Boise State made the offensive line a priority during signing period and brought in a pair of JUCO players to help rebuild the offensive line.
The Broncos should get the benefit of the doubt for their previous success at running back but any time a school loses a player to the NFL there should be a concern heading into the season.