In 2013, the Boise State football team will have a few voids to fill. Finding replacements for key positions could be a challenge for head coach Chris Petersen.
Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor will be big cleats to fill in the defensive secondary. D.J. Harper will also be missed in the offensive backfield.
Boise State will be in search of a new field-goal kicker as well. Michael Frisina finished off his career with a game-winning field goal over Washington in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.
However, even with the mild construction project needed in Boise, the coaches, players and fans of the Broncos should be excited that they have a solid core of players returning for the 2013 season.
Among those returning players are a handful of guys who seem poised to do something big this time around. Let's look closer at six of them, and at what might transpire in 2013.
Demarcus Lawrence is a name that will probably become well known in the NFL one day. Until then, it is already famous in Boise.
According to BroncoSports.com, in 2012, Lawrence racked up 48 tackles—13.5 of those for loss—9.5 sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and subsequent touchdown, four forced fumbles, a blocked kick and a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, not that last one.
But, think about this; Lawrence did all of this in just 11 games. Why not 13? Because the outstanding defensive lineman missed two contests as a result of suspensions brought on by breaking team rules. One of those games was the bowl game in Las Vegas against the Huskies of Washington.
Fast forward to 2013 and you have to believe the junior college transfer learned a lot in his first season in Boise. If he learned not to break team rules, he could have the kind of season in 2013 that players dream about.
The only downside is that if he does have that kind of season, he may end up foregoing his senior campaign in 2014 to play on Sundays.
However, for now, he is a Bronco and fans should be happy Demarcus Lawrence will be back for another season on The Blue.
Matt Miller is an outstanding receiver. He was, in fact, the Broncos' leading receiver in 2012 with 66 catches for 769 yards and five touchdowns.
This performance was on the heels of his redshirt freshman campaign that netted 679 yards and nine touchdowns on 62 catches.
You can expect more of the same from Miller his junior season. A lot more.
Speaking of more, Kirby Moore is another Bronco to keep an eye on.
Moore was second among the Boise State receivers with 36 receptions for 368 yards and a touchdown.
However, Moore injured his thumb late in the season and even played with a brace in at least two games. He still made a few plays, but was noticeably missing from the stat sheet against Nevada and versus Washington in the Maaco Bowl.
Look for Moore to rise up in 2013 for his senior season. He should be utilized more, no pun intended, by Joe Southwick who now appears to be comfortable throwing the ball around the field.
Moore and Miller should be an impressive combination in 2013.
Speaking of Joe Southwick, the senior will be looking to finish strong in 2013. He didn't have the greatest start in 2012, but improved as the season went on.
In the end, it was a confident and mobile Southwick that looked like a solid veteran quarterback leading the Broncos past Washington in Las Vegas.
His numbers weren't record breaking, but they weren't horrible either.
In 2012, Joe completed 248 passes in 371 attempts. That was good enough for a 66.8 completion percentage, which made him No. 20 among all FBS quarterbacks in that area.
Southwick also threw 19 touchdowns with just seven interceptions and was sacked only seven times as well.
With his confidence and newfound mobility, 2013 should be a very good season for Joe Southwick. Look for him to start much stronger as a senior.
There is speculation that Nick Patti or another quarterback will take the job from Southwick, but to do that, they are going to have to give coach Chris Petersen some incredible reasons to do so.
When it is all said and done, you can look for Joe Southwick to lead the Broncos with confidence into 2013.
Just a redshirt freshman last season, defensive end Sam Ukwuachu made his debut count.
In 13 games played, Ukwuachu had 35 tackles with seven of those for loss and 4.5 sacks according to BroncoSports.com. He also forced a fumble and recovered three others.
Opposing offenses won't be able to key on Ukwuachu with all the other talent around him on the defense, and you can expect him to apply the lessons of 2012 toward his sophomore follow up.
He stood out on the field as a dominant player at times last year, and you can expect that observation to increase substantially in 2013.
The Broncos have experienced a fortunate streak of excellent running backs, and that only appears to be continuing in 2013.
Boise State will have Jay Ajayi as their presumed starter in the coming season. Ajayi is a powerful back who now has a year of experience under his belt.
Last season, Ajayi was the backup to D.J. Harper. But at times, the redshirt freshman became the spark to a stifled Bronco offense. On the season, Ajayi carried 82 times for 548 yards and four touchdowns.
Of all his numbers, the most impressive has to be 6.7.
That number was the average yards Jay Ajayi gained every time he touched the ball in 2012. Putting that in perspective, D.J. Harper averaged five yards per carry last season and former Boise State Bronco and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Doug Martin averaged 4.9 yards his senior season and 6.3 yards his junior year.
Ajayi of course, still must prove he can be a starter and carry the load. However, he has the talent, power, speed and agility to do so.
Look for Jay Ajayi to carry the Broncos to an excellent running attack in 2013.