Boise State Football: The Blueprint for a Perfect Offseason
The college football offseason is a down time for many fans, but for players and coaches the work continues.
The Broncos enter 2014 with a new coaching staff and a whole lot of unanswered questions. Those questions will need to be answered in the coming months, and fans of Boise State are hopeful about the answers.
Blueprint seems like the perfect word for a plan of success for the Broncos, and new head coach Bryan Harsin and his "attack the future" mentality seems more than capable of putting together such a plan.
Every college football head coach hopes for the best offseason possible, but what that looks like for each team may vary.
Let's take a look at what would have to happen for the Broncos to experience the perfect offseason and what it might mean to all of Bronco Nation.
Complete a Strong Recruiting Class
First on the list for a perfect offseason is a solid recruiting class.
Right now there are a lot of unknowns, but with some talented recruiters on the coaching staff, you will probably see a better than expected class for the Broncos.
Quarterback is a position still not settled in this class, and the Broncos could use a running back and some more players on the defensive side of the ball.
Still, with losing players who decommitted after coach Chris Petersen left and with the addition of players who have recently committed, Boise State looks to be in decent shape heading into the final weeks of recruiting this class.
There will no doubt be some additional JUCO players and a few surprises as well. It is going to be a very interesting signing day for sure.
All About the Family
Football teams are best when the commitment of the individuals to the game, the coaches and each other is more like a family.
This is something that good coaches teach and great coaches practice. The closeness of a squad can get them through many pitfalls and disappointments. It can also help keep players humble and grounded.
With a new coaching staff and new players entering the mix, the family dynamic will need to be nourished. Some of that element is already there, but the new recipe of individuals will make it a bit of a mystery.
If this team can develop into more of a family, it will mean very good things for the future of this program.
Have a Spring That Matters
Spring ball is crucial every season, but this year is certainly more critical than in recent times.
As the coaches and players come together and as a new defense and offense are initialized, it is going to be crucial how individuals react and perform in this whirlwind.
A lot of elements will have to come together, and so many variables will come into play. Coaches will need to agree on terminology, and players will need to learn what all of it means.
The staff will also have to evaluate every player in real time to assess the best way to utilize them, and players will need to adjust to whatever changes come.
It should be an intriguing spring and probably points to a highly anticipated spring game.
Implement a Creative High-Powered Offense
Any offense that Bryan Harsin and Mike Sanford implement is going to be creative.
Unless, of course, both men decide to throw aside who they are and the skills and mindset that got them where they are today.
Simply put, you can fully expect a Harsin-Sanford offense to be anything but boring. However, it will depend on the players themselves as to how explosive it is.
In an article written by B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press-Tribune, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford was quoted as saying:
Really the brand of Boise State’s offense is creativity and multiplicity and you see that time and again. When Boise State is really good offensively, obviously you believe in your fundamentals of being a physical football team, but being able to mesh different worlds of offenses together and being on the cutting edge of creativity and being on the cutting edge of how to use your personnel, and I think that’s going to have a lot to do with what we do here offensively.
Boise State will certainly look more like itself on offense in 2014, but there will be enough changes to bring mystery and a competitive advantage.
The real key will no doubt be a powerful running game.
From all indications, fans can also expect more involvement from tight ends and probably even fullbacks as well. Boise State already has a solid stable of good running backs, and they will no doubt be utilized effectively.
The passing game should be solid, but it will be extremely interesting to see how it all comes together. The quarterback competition will be something to watch, but right now Grant Hedrick would seem to be the odds-on favorite to win the job.
The offensive line will look much different in 2014, and players with limited playing time are going to have to step up in a big way. This is probably the biggest question mark on that side of the ball, and one that is absolutely crucial for the success of the offense.
Implement a Consistent and Solid Defense
The defense for the Broncos is probably the biggest area of concern right now going into 2014.
After the departure of some seniors and the departure of junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who decided to enter the NFL Draft, Boise State has a substantial project ahead. It was, after all, a defense that was already struggling before the losses.
When head coach Bryan Harsin hired Marcel Yates away from Texas A&M, he took the first big step in getting this job done.
With the additions of linebackers coach Andy Avalos, defensive line coach Steve Caldwell and defensive backs coach Julius Brown, the Broncos put themselves in a great position for success.
There are also some young players who impressed last season and others on the roster who seem more than capable of stepping up.
Yates is something of a genius when it comes to coaching the secondary, and Julius Brown will no doubt get plenty of advice from him on that matter. The Broncos struggled in the defensive secondary last season, and it will no doubt be an area of focus in 2014.
Boise State has some very good talent at linebacker, but the line, just like offense, is probably the biggest question mark right now.
Have a Fall Camp That Brings Confidence and Momentum
Spring camp is very important, but fall camp carries a little more weight.
Of course, fall camp is probably not the right name for it considering it happens in August, but as things come together and starters are named, the reality of the fall season will follow. The closer the Broncos get to opening day against Ole Miss, the more crucial the intensity and seriousness of camp will be.
At this point, the word "execution" comes to mind.
All of the new things that will be implemented will only bring success if executed correctly. Coach Harsin preaches the topic.
In a recent Idaho Press-Tribune article written by B.J. Rains, Harsin was quoted when he said:
The number one thing is execution. I hope we’re the most executing offense in the country. Let’s start with that. Where it goes from there with tempo or movement and things like that, we’ll decide that. But it starts with execution.
How this team executes should be visible in the final weeks of practice. If they are doing it as well as Harsin desires, there may be another big opening-day win in the cards for the Broncos.
Be Fundamentally Sound
Dictionary.com defines the word fundamental as, "Serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying: fundamental principles; the fundamental structure."
When a team does the fundamental part of what it is supposed to do in the game of football, that team will experience a certain level of success. When a team doesn't execute the fundamentals, however, that same team will often self-destruct.
As fans of Boise State watched the 2013 season unfold, many witnessed some fundamental letdowns.
Fundamentals in football are like many other areas of life. When passion and energy falter, often so do the fundamentals.
In the light of the Petersen departure, you have to wonder if some of the lack of fundamental execution in 2013 wasn't because of a certain level of burn-out experienced by a head coach who had found himself needing a change.
We might never know the real answer, but any Boise State fan who watched Chris Petersen's press conference when he was announced as the new head coach at Washington could see a level of relief and happiness that hadn't been seen on his face in a long while.
Now, with Harsin and his new staff in place in Boise, you have to think the energy and passion level won't be a problem.
With that energy and passion should come a focus on ball security, good tackling, running of aggressive routes, getting off of blocks, sustaining blocks and all of the other key fundamentals of football.
It is something that Harsin and his staff will certainly emphasize.
No Controversy or Scandal
The controversy leading up to the Hawaii bowl was quite the distraction.
When Joe Southwick was suspended from the team for his last game as a Bronco, it was a glaring scar that capped off a disappointing season.
The glare of that scar seemed to have blinding affects on the Broncos as they seemed more than distracted in their game against Oregon State.
Boise State is also coming off of a three-year penalty from the NCAA. In those three seasons, the Broncos lost three scholarships per season and were forced to have a reduced practice schedule.
The 2014 season will be the first since 2011 that the Broncos won't be under this burden.
With a new coach, a new year and more scholarships available to them, the last thing the Broncos need in the offseason is controversy or scandal.
Head coach Bryan Harsin will no doubt make his players aware of the continued high standards he has for himself, his staff and the players. It should produce a climate of little distraction.
Injuries can devastate a team. Boise State has had some big injuries in recent seasons, and it has hurt the play on the field.
Injuries are a reality in football, and they will happen. However, there are some seasons when the injury bug doesn't bite nearly as bad.
Coach Harsin, and all of Bronco Nation, could certainly use a year when players made unavailable by injury were kept to a minimum.
Huge Fan Support
For the perfect offseason to be complete, it will take fan participation.
First, a record crowd at the spring game along with record excitement from fans through spring and fall would be a huge boost to the program.
Next, record-setting season ticket sales would be an even bigger gift to the program.
If fans can show sustained support, excitement, increased ticket sales and a renewed passion in the offseason, it should help propel this team to new heights.
Not only that, but it could have long-term effects as well.
An expansion of Bronco Stadium is one of the biggest elements needed to take the program to the next level. That can only happen when the current seats are filled.
If the administration can fix the pricing issues and the fans can fill every seat at home games, a larger stadium will be a reality.
For the Boise State football team to have a perfect offseason it will take a complete effort.
That effort will have to come from the coaching staff, the players, the administration and the fans themselves.
It means renewed effort, increased support, creativity and determination. In other words, it means exactly what it has always meant for Bronco Nation.