Boise State Football: Spring Preview for the Tight Ends
As we near the end of our position-by-position breakdown of the Boise State Broncos for the upcoming season, it has become apparent that this team is poised for a successful season.
For those who are interested, here are the links to the previous articles.
In this section, we’ll take a look at the tight ends. They play a sometimes hidden but still important part of the success of the Broncos’ offense.
As usual, the strengths and weaknesses of the unit will be discussed as well as key position battles that might take place until the season begins.
Let’s take a look at the tight ends for the 2013 Boise State Broncos.
Gabe Linehan (#87) will be back to bolster Boise State's depth at tight end, which suffered due to injuries in 2012.
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Boise State isn’t known for using its tight ends much in the passing game, but those individuals who play the position in Chris Petersen’s system aren’t on the field just for show.
Rather, they are instrumental in the success of the running game, especially in plays where the running back is likely to bounce outside.
So, with Gabe Linehan and Kyle Sosnowski returning, it's going to be an advantage. Linehan, a senior, and Sosnowski, a junior, went down with season-ending injuries last season, which left the Broncos thin at tight end.
This season, depth will definitely not be an issue. Besides Linehan and Sosnowski, Petersen also has sophomore Holden Huff and junior Connor Peters (who moved to the position from fullback) battling for playing time.
All four should see action.
At 6’4”, 253 pounds, Peters is the biggest of the bunch and will be an asset, assuming his blocking skills translate (he isn’t exactly green to the position).
Huff, at 6’5”, has the potential to be a threat in the passing game, showing speed and soft hands during his freshman year when he caught four touchdown passes.
Linehan and Sosnowski are more of the prototypical tight ends who would be expected in Petersen’s system with Linehan also having the ability to catch the ball.
In a perfect world, no one gets hurt and the Broncos will have a strong rotation at the position.
Injuries hurt the Broncos last season, and may the the only thing standing in the way of the tight ends having a great season collectively in 2013.
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Tight end isn't Boise State’s strongest unit, but it's difficult to find a weakness.
Injuries could wind up being the biggest concern.
Linehan and Sosnowksi went down with season-ending injuries in 2012, and based on the team's physical play, it wouldn’t be surprising if at least one of the contributors had to deal with an injury this year.
But the Broncos have a strong tight end corps—a few players who are good in the blocking game, a speedier player with good hands and reserves who will keep the starters on their toes (in Peters and sophomore Jake Hardee).
Until the running game shows signs of weakness in off-tackle plays, there isn’t reason to try to poke a hole in this unit.
Key Position Battles
Linehan will probably be slated as the starter for the Broncos, but don't be surprised if several players get plenty of playing time at tight end for the Broncos.
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As a senior and one of the players who would have played most of last season had it not been for an injury, Linehan probably will see the field a lot this season.
After him, it's wide open.
Because of his impressive freshman year and unique ability at the position, Huff also looks poised to see playing time. It would be ideal if he could bulk up without losing the speed that makes him a weapon in the passing game.
Sosnowski, Peters and Hardee also will be in the running for a starting job, but they might enter as reserves in most games. We are aware of Petersen’s preference to cycle many players into the game, however, so don’t expect any of these three to ride the bench.
The “starting” job might be more of a title than anything else. All five will get playing time if they consistently perform when they get the opportunity. Keeping players fresh will limit the chance of injury, which is the last thing the Broncos want after dealing with that in 2012.
Coach Petersen has depth and talent at tight end. You probably won't see him in this position regarding the tight ends very often.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
This preview might sound like a love fest for the tight ends. It isn't the Broncos’ strongest unit, but it surprisingly doesn’t have weaknesses either.
It's a talented group that will probably go fairly unnoticed (with the exception of Huff) unless things begin to unravel in the running game.
Otherwise, you won’t hear much about this group, and that’s OK as long as it's doing its job. Judging by the returning talent, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
Games where the tight ends could have the most impact: BYU, Air Force, San Diego State, Utah State
Be sure to return to Bleacher Report next week and catch our final spring preview breakdown where we’ll take a look at Boise State’s special teams unit.