Boise State Football: 5 Things We Learned About the Broncos This Spring

Martin SondermannAnalyst IIApril 30, 2014

Boise State Football: 5 Things We Learned About the Broncos This Spring

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    The Boise State football program was in a state of uncertainty not long ago. But, what a difference a spring makes.

    When head coach Bryan Harsin was hired in December 2013, the Broncos had just endured the tumultuous storm that was the 2013 season. It was a season that ended with a disappointing record, the captain abandoning ship and a few players jumping overboard.

    Enter Harsin and his band of brothers.

    As soon as Coach Harsin took over, he began to right the ship. He started with hiring excellent assistant coaches and with encouraging a fanbase and community that desperately needed something to smile about.

    As the winter turned to spring, new life bloomed in "Bronco Land." The signs of life are everywhere, and the smiles are certainly more frequent.

    There is still much work to be done of course, but many who wrote off the Broncos might need to buy an industrial-sized eraser.

    Let's look at the things we learned about this newly energized program this spring and what it might point to as the fall season approaches.

The Offense Needs Work, but It Has Talent

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    One of the biggest and most obvious challenges the Broncos face after a very productive spring comes on the offensive side of the ball.

    Installing a new offense isn't easy, and without time, preparation and repetition, there are going to be some issues. That was obvious in the spring game especially.

    However, the talent on offense for Boise State is solid, and you can fully expect those same talented players to spend their own time this summer getting better by way of the playbook.

    Probably the biggest area of concern on offense however, is the line. There are no senior offensive linemen on this year's team, and if the O-line is going to get better, some younger players are going to have to step up.

    The line will make or break the Broncos offense this season, especially early on. If they are able to rise to the occasion, Boise State may pull off an opening-game upset against another SEC team. If those same players falter, it could be a debacle in the Georgia Dome.

    Only time will tell, but you have to believe after hearing some criticism this spring those lineman are going to work harder than ever to make sure they step up big time in August.

Jay Ajayi Is Poised for a Great Season

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    Running back Jay Ajayi will play his junior season in 2014. He impressed Bronco Nation as a freshman in bits and pieces, but then exploded onto the scene in 2013.

    According to BroncoSports.com, Ajayi was named first-team All-Mountain West in 2013, and he rushed for 1,435 yards on the season. He also had 18 touchdowns and finished ranked 15th nationally in total rushing yards.

    Here's the scary thing: He looked even better this spring.

    Not only did he look good in practice day in and day out, but he shined in both of the spring games Boise State held. Ajayi looks like he is in the best shape of his career, and he is playing hungry.

    Mountain West defenses are going to have a hard time slowing down the J-train. If he stays healthy, you can probably expect him to top what he did last season. He is certainly going to be a key to Boise State's success on offense this fall.

The New Defense Could Be Special

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    One thing the Boise State fans learned this spring is that the Broncos defense looked much better.

    New defensive coordinator Marcel Yates has installed a 4-2-5 defense that has a chance to be the best in the Mountain West.

    Too high of an estimation? Don't count on it.

    With several key players returning, and a few new and very talented players being added to the mix, the Broncos are poised for something special.

    Offense fills the seats, but defense wins championships. If the Broncos struggle early, it could be the defense that keeps them on the winning path.

    Of course, if both are clicking, there isn't a team in the MWC Boise State can't beat.

    Look for this new defense to make serious waves this season. You can probably expect them to put up numbers much more like the defense of 2012, rather than the version fans watched last season.

Bryan Harsin Was the Right Choice

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    Is there any doubt that Harsin was the right man to hire as head coach of the Broncos?

    Some might say that we need to wait until we see how his team does this season, and that is true to some extent. But, it wasn't that long ago that Bronco Nation found itself in a tailspin, and the future seemed uncertain and dim.

    Harsin came back to Boise at the right time, with the right kind of heart and with the right energy. Boise is after all his hometown, and if anyone knows what it means to bleed blue, it is the former walk-on quarterback for the Broncos.

    Harsin is Boise State, and he has surrounded himself with guys who are the epitome of what it means to be a Bronco.

    In his less than five months on the job, Harsin has energized and captivated an entire fanbase. In fact, so much so, that he has almost made those same fans forget about the last coaching staff for Pete's sake.

    Of course, no Boise State fan will ever forget what former head coach Chris Petersen did for Bronco Nation. His will have some big shoes to fill for sure. However, Harsin seems like the type of guy who isn't intimated by that kind of challenge. 

    Yes, the true test will come with wins and losses. That is how every coach is judged. But, in some ways, Coach Harsin has already had success without a single game being played.

The New Coaching Staff Has Energized Bronco Nation

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    Associated Press

    Speaking of the new coaching staff, Boise State fans should be excited about this one. Not only are they talented coaches, but most of them also have some kind of connection to the program. 

    Also, since arriving, these new staff members have proven they know how to recruit. Not only did they put together a solid 2014 recruiting class in record time, but they have also already begun to land huge verbal commitments for the 2015 class.

    According to 247 Sports, the Broncos have already landed three 3-star recruits and a 4-star recruit for 2015.

    Those 2015 commitments include a talented athlete named Darrell Stewart out of Houston, Texas, and a fast and sure-handed wide receiver named Akilian Butler out of West Mesquite, Texas.

    It also includes one of Idaho's top players, linebacker Kyler Manu from Pocatello, and the No. 9-ranked quarterback in the nation, Brett Rypien, from Spokane, Washington.

    If these coaches can do on the field what they are doing on the recruiting trail, Boise State is most likely hoisting a MWC trophy in 2014.