Boise State Football: 3 Players Who Should See Their Roles Expanded in 2014
The 2014 college football season should be an exciting one for fans of the Boise State Broncos. A new coaching staff has brought a tremendous amount of excitement and energy to the program, and with it a new attitude that seems much more like one you would expect from Boise State.
With head coach Bryan Harsin sounding the battle cry of "attack the future," he has his team and the Broncos fanbase chomping at the bit for some football.
As the spring begins, however, there is much work to be done before the football program is ready to emerge from the shadows of the past and press forward to the light of a new era.
Every player on the Broncos roster will need to step up in a big way if they want to compete for a Mountain West Conference championship and an appearance in one of the new lucrative bowl games set to premiere this coming season.
Many players will be asked to play an expanded role for Boise State in 2014. Quarterback Grant Hedrick, some new starting offensive linemen and a handful of players on the defensive line will all have more playing time and bigger leadership roles as the season commences.
However, there are a few other players that should see an expansion of their duties in 2014 that might not be as obvious as those previously listed. How they play could impact the team in a big way.
Let's look look at three such players and attempt to determine what it is they will be asked to do, how they might handle it and how it might impact the 2014 Boise State football season.
WR Thomas Sperbeck
Last season, Boise State wide receivers didn't have the collective year that many thought they would. There were several factors that hindered the talented group such as injuries, play-calling and, at times, a lack of aggressiveness.
In 2014, if the Broncos want to return to a premier passing attack, they are going to need pass-grabbers to play with a serious chip on their shoulder.
Senior Matt Miller, junior Shane Williams-Rhodes and senior Dallas Burroughs all have the capability of bringing that kind of element to the table. But with the departure of Kirby Moore and Geraldo Boldewijn, someone else will also need to step up.
The player that will probably see the biggest expansion of duties among current wide receivers is sophomore Thomas Sperbeck. Junior Troy Ware is another one to watch, but so far it has been Sperbeck making waves on The Blue this spring.
As pointed out by Tom Scott via KTVB.com, Sperbeck has impressed new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford so much that Sanford singled out Sperbeck as a consistent playmaker.
Sperbeck was also recently named one of the spring football players of the day according to BroncoSports.com.
It really shouldn't come as a big surprise that Sperbeck is beginning to shine. In high school, he was an amazing quarterback and also played defense. In fact, according to his BroncoSports.com bio, in high school, he led his team in passing, rushing, tackles and scoring.
Sperbeck is also the son of Sacramento State head football coach Marshall Sperbeck, which probably explains a lot.
In 2014, look for Sperbeck to be an excellent complement to the Boise State offense.
RB Derrick Thomas
In 2013, running back Derrick Thomas came to Boise State as a JUCO transfer, and fans were excited to see what he could do. Thomas was expected by many to be the backup to Jay Ajayi, and with similar size, the two of them could have been a potent combo.
However, Thomas never seemed to get his game going last season, and he found himself in limited action.
Fast forward to the spring of 2014, and it appears as if the Thomas that was expected has now arrived.
According to BroncoSports.com, the senior running back has been named a player of the day during spring practice twice.
If Thomas is able to step it up this fall, he should be a crucial second running back. The tandem of Ajayi and Thomas could be a powerful force running the ball, and it would give any defense in the Mountain West Conference serious trouble.
That kind of ground game would take some pressure off of quarterback Grant Hedrick and contribute greatly to the success of the offense.
S Darian Thompson
The 2014 Boise State defense is going to be much different than what fans have seen in recent seasons. As noted by Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman, the Broncos are switching to a much more adaptable and aggressive 4-2-5 defense.
In the 4-2-5, three safeties are utilized, and how they perform can make or break the defense.
Senior safety Jeremy Ioane will lead the way, and players like Dillon Lukehart, Taylor Loffler and newcomer Dylan Sumner-Gardner will all have to contribute as well. Others currently listed on the roster at cornerback or defensive back may also have to convert to safety to fill the need of the 2014 Boise State defense.
However, the player that could step up in a big way is redshirt junior Darian Thompson. He had a good season in 2013 and did well as a redshirt freshman in 2012, but with his talent and ability, he can become even more for the Broncos.
The 4-2-5 defense suits Thompson. With his speed, improved coverage, tackling ability, ability to create turnovers and knack for taking good angles, he is poised for success in this system.
So far this spring, Thompson has been named one of the players of the day twice according to BroncoSports.com, and fans should be very excited about what he is going to do this fall.