5 Keys to Victory in Boise State's Opening Game
When the Boise State Broncos take the field Friday night, they will have a new look about them.
Only five starters on offense and defense are returning for the Broncos, the least in the country. They are also ranked 24th, their lowest ranking in the past couple of seasons.
Boise State opens their season on the road against No. 13 Michigan State as seven-point underdogs. Here are some important things that the Boise State team can do to bring home the victory.
A new quarterback era is beginning in Boise. With the departure of Kellen Moore, the Broncos' heavy expectations now fall to junior Joe Southwick.
The 6'1", 187-pound junior from California has backed up Moore the past two seasons. In his career, Southwick is 40-of-54 for 400 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He certainly has proven he has the talent to lead the Broncos to victory and a great season. He offers a dual threat with a powerful arm and fast legs.
Southwick has very little experience and he will likely have butterflies in his stomach. He cannot get caught up in the spotlight and pressure of the big stage or it will be a long night for Boise. Michigan State returns eight starters from its staunch defense last year and will make it tough to move the ball.
If Southwick can remain poised and not get rattled, Boise State can pull off a major upset on the second day of the college football season.
This game is most likely going to be low-scoring and determined by one or two small plays. Turnovers and special teams mistakes will be magnified and twice as costly.
The Broncos have proven to be a well-disciplined team. In 2011, they gave up 1.4 turnovers per game, which ranked 20th in the country. However, with almost all new personnel, there are concerns of chemistry and knowing where each player will be on the field and when.
Chris Peterson is an excellent coach who will have his team prepared to the best of its ability, but no one knows what will actually happen until the game kicks off. If the young players can hold on to the ball and continue the Boise State trend, the Broncos will certainly hang around and prove challenging in the game.
Boise State is only returning two starters on defense. Senior cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins will be asked to step up as leaders and help the young defense play together.
Their first task is to shut down Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell. He is a big, strong, powerful running back who is difficult to bring down. If forced to the outside, he also has dashing speed to outrun his pursuers.
Stopping Bell is crucial for Boise State if they want to win. This will force the Spartans' new quarterback to throw in the direction of the Broncos' biggest strength, their secondary. This will allow Boise to control the pace of the game and frustrate the offense.
Chris Peterson always has something up his sleeve. For the past few seasons, Peterson has had an array of talent and players that he was able to use and capitalize on in more ways than one.
Peterson's imagination and "tricks" playbook will be needed against Michigan State. The Spartans are known to lay everything on the table and dare their opponents to beat it. Boise State is known for catching their opponents off guard.
If the Broncos want a victory in Lansing, they must find a way to surprise attack the Spartans.
Handle the Atmosphere
East Lansing, Michigan is going to be rocking. Coming in with a young team, it would be easy for Boise State to get caught up in the hype.
The 25 seniors on the Broncos' roster must provide leadership and share their big game experience. However, many of these veterans have not started a game of this magnitude. The way Boise State handles this pressure will be the biggest factor in the outcome of the game.
If the upperclassmen can keep it together and keep the younger players focused, it is going to be a high-flying and fun game to watch.