As the Boise State football teams works its way through the second week of spring practices, things are starting to heat up on the blue turf.
Practice with helmets and shoulder pads. 11-on-11 drills. More intense workouts and individual drills.
As a result, it is natural to start evaluating the players and their progress.
Similar to last week, we’ll take a look at which players are making the most of the spring, while also looking at a few who may not or cannot use the spring to their advantage.
As a reminder, players who have shown improvement or who are doing well in practices are eligible for “stock rising” status. Because it is difficult to tell who isn’t performing as well in these drills, players who receive “stock falling” status are those who may be affected by another player that is making positive strides.
In addition to the identification of the player, a short explanation of the stock direction will also be given. Also, like the Week 1 report, everything is fair game for a stock change; that includes facilities, coaches and even things such as the playbook.
Let’s take a look at the stock report after Week 2 of practices in Boise.
As a freshman, Huff came on near the end of the 2012 season when the rest of the tight ends were a bit banged up and really impressed the Boise faithful. An end with the speed to essentially be another receiver, Huff ended up catching four touchdowns by the end of the year, good for second best on the team.
This spring, it has been noted that Huff has gotten bigger in the offseason, which makes him more of an asset as a blocker as well.
With both tight ends that took care of the starting roles in 2012 graduated, Huff will be in the mix to win the starting job this coming season.
As reported by Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman, Huff has shown the ability to use his athleticism and his speed to make plays thus far in the spring.
However, the fact that Huff has bulked up a bit is his biggest improvement from last season. The hope is that he will become a solid blocker as well as receiver, which would translate into a lot more playing time this season for the sophomore.
Burks is a guy that desperately needs to make a statement in the spring in order to see the playing time that he feels he deserves in 2013. As a senior, he’d like to see the field as often as possible.
However, Burks hasn’t been making the waves necessary to break into the starting lineup for the Broncos.
It isn’t that the 6’3” receiver has been regressing. He just isn’t quite where the coaching staff would like him, or fellow wideout Geraldo Boldewijn, to be.
When asked about the two players, coach Chris Petersen remarked (via the Idaho Statesman), “It really comes down to consistency. That’s what we need out of those seniors…And we’re getting there. We’re not there but we’re getting there with those guys.”
Clearly, this is an indication that Burks still has time to impress the coaching staff. But the end of spring practice is rapidly approaching, and the senior needs to find a way to distinguish himself from the other receivers.
Hopefully, he will find some sort of consistency by the time the team opens with Washington.
Cornerback was one of the most important positions to address during the offseason for the Boise State coaching staff after having to replace both starters from 2012.
Florence, a redshirt junior, has taken advantage of the fact that there is essentially an open competition for the starting jobs and has been extremely impressive during the spring.
Despite sort of being behind the eight ball to start the spring, Florence has proved that he is a solid playmaker, making at least three interceptions in practice.
Florence may ultimately end up being the backup to Donte Deayon, but that doesn’t mean that his performance this spring will be thrown out the window. Last season, Bryan Douglas impressed the coaches enough in practice that he started until hurting himself in late October.
Don’t be surprised if Florence finds himself more playing time than he originally would have gotten this coming season.
Jay Ajayi is the likely starter for the Broncos for the 2013 season.
Not much has been reported about any of the running backs, but according to the Idaho Statesman’s Chadd Cripe, Jay Ajayi has looked pretty good without full pads.
This isn’t exactly surprising, but this isn’t good news for the other running backs that plan to vie for the starter’s role, either.
Ajayi is the team’s most experienced back heading into the season, and he also did a nice job last year of getting pretty big chunks of yardage on carries (he averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2012).
For incoming recruits such as freshman Aaron Baltazar, who is being touted as a very talented player but who isn’t participating in spring practices, Ajayi’s solid performance in the spring likely means he is confirming the suspicions of the coaching staff.
Those suspicions are that Ajayi will start the season as the primary running back and that everyone else will file in line behind on the depth chart.
The junior defensive tackle, who moved to the position from end last season when he filled in for the injured Michael Atkinson, has taken a very mature stance on his move to the inside of the defensive line.
When asked about his preference of playing end or playing tackle, Horn replied (via the Idaho Statesman), “I don’t really have a preference anymore. I just, honestly, want to play. Playing inside is a little different, but in the long run it’s just going to make me a better overall player.”
This attitude is exactly the kind of thing that makes Boise State a dangerous team heading into the 2013 season. Horn is most likely going to start at defensive tackle, and his speed at the position will make the Broncos a very difficult defense to game-plan for.
In addition to taking the attitude of a seasoned veteran, Horn has apparently impressed the coaching staff from the onset of preparation for the upcoming season.
“We’re fired up about what he’s done this winter and where he’s at right now,” defensive line coach Andy Avalos said of Horn. Avalos went on to say he believes Horn can be of use in a number of different defensive looks (per the Idaho Statesman).
Based on what has been seen so far, Broncos fans can expect Horn to have a very successful 2013 campaign.
In Boise, there have been far fewer 11-on-11 drills than would even be predicted during spring practices.
Instead, the players are engaging in many more individual drills.
Part of this might have to do with the fact that there isn’t as much need to do full offensive and defensive drills. As mentioned last week, Coach Petersen is aiming to trim down the offensive playbook.
But there is also an argument to be made for the fact that the 11-on-11 drills will be in low demand until a few practices before the spring game. After all, the spring game is 60 minutes of 11-on-11.
Furthermore, many of the practices in which the Broncos do the bulk of their 11-on-11 sessions are closed to the media.
Getting the little things right is important, especially to a coach like Chris Petersen. And if the coaching staff has to conduct more individual drills than usual to get the team to the place they want it, then so be it.