Boise State Football: Why Broncos' Success Will Continue Without Kellen Moore
The old adage is that the "more things change, the more they stay the same." That could well apply to college football—the yearly migration of athletes in and out of the programs and the way the teams chug along.
Let's visit the past for a moment:
In 2004, a young quarterback named Jared Zabransky took over as the starter for Boise State. Many people had never heard of "Z," but thanks to a dominant first quarter, a pick-six he threw in the fourth and then a come-from-behind touchdown drive in the closing minutes of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma (and flawless execution in overtime), Zabransky become a well-known college football player.
Kellen Moore was not highly recruited coming out of Prosser, WA. In fact, only three teams—one of which was Boise State—expressed interest in him. Moore was redshirted his freshman season (2007), took over the reins of the Broncos in 2008 and the rest is 50-3 history.
What Moore did in the blue and orange was beyond spectacular. It could well have been a feat that will not be equaled for a long, long time. Will the Broncos enjoy success post-Kellen Moore? Absolutely!
And here are the reasons why.
1. History of Success
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Kellen Moore threw up a gaudy win-loss record over a four-year span. We all know that. But the Broncos won at an outstanding rate before Moore. Boise State was established in 1933 as a junior college. And as a junior college, it had six undefeated seasons beginning in 1947, culminating with a NJCAA National Championship in 1958.
The school took on the college designation in 1968 and in 1970 competed at the NCAA Division II level for a couple of years. The Broncos won the first of four Big Sky championships in 1973 and made their first Division II playoff appearance in 1973.
In 1978, Boise State was named Boise State University and moved to the NCAA FCS, winning the FCS National Championship in 1980. Fourteen years later, the Broncos lost the title match, though the wins kept mounting.
In 1996, the Broncos stepped up the FBS level, joined the Big West, won the first of two consecutive conference titles in 1999 and capped the first title with a win in the then-Humanitarian Bowl game.
Between 2000-2010 (which includes the pre-Moore era), the Broncos have gone 69-2 at home for a 97.18 winning percentage, which is just ahead of Oklahoma's 66-2 mark. BSU ranks sixth on the list of all-time winningest FBS programs with a 365-145-1 or a 71.5 percent winning ratio.
This could go on and on, but the point should be driven in by now. Boise State has a history of winning and did a lot of that pre-Kellen Moore. There seems little reason, given the history of the school's gridiron achievements, that the winning will stop with new faces on both sides of the ball.
2. Coaching Staff
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It all begins with the head coach, and Chris Petersen is an exceptional coach.
In six years, Petersen has put together a 73-6 record and began his job with the win over Oklahoma to cap an undefeated debut season at the helm. Petersen was not new to the Bronco system, having spent six years at the school under other head coaches as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.
Sure, there are a couple of coaches in their first year at BSU, including defensive line coach Andy Avalos, quarterback coach Jonathan Smith and defensive secondary coach Jimmy Lake, but there are veterans as well, like Pete Kwiatkowski (defensive coordinator) and Chris Strausser (associate head coach and offensive line coach) who have 27 years between them coaching at BSU.
Other coaches have a combined 29 years at Boise State, which means they know the system, are aware of the expectations and know how to recruit the talent needed to fit the positions and play style of Boise State.
3. Experience of Current Players
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BSU lost a lot of talent from the 2011 team, but that doesn't mean that the cupboard was left bare. The Broncos have 25 seniors on the roster for 2012, only four of which are true seniors (the others have a redshirt year behind them), according to BroncoSports.com.
The seniors are spread across both sides of the line of scrimmage, linemen, linebackers, offensive backfield, and defensive secondary. About the only position where there is not a senior is at quarterback, and Joe Southwick has spent the last several years understudying to Kellen Moore, so he should have a handle on that job.
That's not to say that Southwick has a lock on the starting quarterback job (and if he has, BSU coaches are not saying), but he did a solid job as a redshirt sophomore in 2011, completing 23 of 30 passes for 198 yards, one interception and one touchdown.
4. It's All About the Attitude
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Boise State has established a home-field dominance that rivals the best teams in college football. They have also proved they can win on the road. In 2010, Scout.com did a story about the home-field dominance of BSU, citing that the Broncos were 73-2 at home in their last 75 games—a mark that placed the Broncos ninth on the all-time list of teams with incredible home winning streaks.
And the Broncos have a chip on their shoulders.
Year in and year out, the Broncos have been criticized by a wide range of folks (media and otherwise), denigrating school size, location, schedule and anything else they can come up with. It all fuels the Broncos' motivational machine. Coaches tend to like players who have a chip on their shoulders, but only if the chip does not interfere with the drive to succeed.
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When you head into a season, the intangibles come into play, like injuries to key players (Broncos and other teams), or players new to the program that step up and have an immediate impact. There are certainly players with credentials coming into the program, like Nick Patti, Jack Fields, Tyler Gray and Demarcus Lawrence (to name only a few), but players may find themselves in a redshirt year, or they may be able to jump into a starting role and be one of the factors in any success the Broncos have on the field.
The 2012 campaign is a transition year for Boise State. It is the last year in the Mountain West, with the Big East looming for the 2013 season.
Like every team in college football, the Broncos will have to focus on the task at hand, which is the next opponent, but one can never tell what might pop up that alters the game plan.
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While there are many factors that will play into the gridiron fortunes of Boise State in 2012 and the years to follow, there are some certainties that tie back into the overall theme of this piece—why the Broncos will succeed in the post-Kellen Moore era.
One player may own the spotlight, but one player does not make a team. History is on the side of the Broncos continuing to win, the coaching staff understands what has to be done to continue and there is a wealth of experience coming back to sustain the Broncos' drive to excellence.
But games are not played in history books, nor do they hinge on what has happened or should happen. The ultimate controlling factor in this discussion rests on the shoulders of the 2012 team and the coaching staff. What they have learned from the past and present and take into the campaign ahead will be the true determining factor in how Boise State fares in the years to come.