This time of year is bittersweet for Boise State fans. Once again, the Bronco Bus is rolling and opponents are going down left and right, but we see the end in the distance. Only six more games and a bowl, and Boise State football is done for another season. It's like the halfway point of summer when you are a kid and school supplies start showing up in the store.
However, we can not be to down about the situation. Boise State is No. 5 in the BCS, Kellen Moore is once again in the Heisman hunt and whether Boise State goes to the Big East or stays in the MWC/C-USA merger, life is good.
Teams on Boise State's schedule are even starting to improve. Fresno State is in the hunt for the WAC, Georgia is surging in the SEC East and TCU will likely be ranked when Boise State faces them.
So looking back on the first half of the season, Boise State has been even better than we would have imagined and in recent games have been downright unstoppable. But does it warrant the No. 5 position in the BCS ahead of other undefeated BCS teams? And does Kellen Moore really deserve his current spot in the Heisman race?
Here are the midseason report card grades for the Broncos.
The Boise State offense is performing as advertised, with Kellen Moore once again dominating the opposing defense as well as the record book.
Moore has led the seventh highest scoring offense in the country with some Heisman worthy stats. He is well on his way to a career high in touchdowns this season, as he already has 21, and he only needs another 15 to take hold of the career touchdown record. Houston's Case Keenum is also in the running and may finish with more touchdowns than Kellen Moore, but he is in a fifth year of eligibility, and Moore rarely plays more than three quarters.
Only two wins away from breaking Colt McCoy's career wins record, Moore has established himself as one of the best college football players in the last decade. With only six games in the bag, he has already racked up 1,729 yards and a 75.9 percent completion rating. Whether you call him the "the surgeon", the robot, or the patron saint of passing, you definitely can call him unstoppable.
There is no better compliment to Kellen Moore than Doug Martin. Quite possibly the most under-rated running back in the country. Dubbed muscle hamster by his team mates you can see why when he plows over multiple defenders.
Running for a total of 622 yards and eight touchdowns, Martin will be setting new career highs this season and maybe breaking some team records. These are impressive stats when considering the other offensive firepower the Broncos have. D.J. Harper is the next leading rusher with a respectable 238 yards.
Pettis and Young who?
Just kidding, those were two of the best receivers in Boise State history, but it seems the Broncos are doing just fine without them. Tyler Shoemaker has been the standout over the first half of the season and has filled the big shoes that were left behind quite nicely. Making 24 receptions for 401 yards and already grabbing a career high eight touchdowns.
Freshman Matt Miller has been the other impressive receiver, bringing in 308 yards on 28 receptions with three touchdowns.
I can't in good conscience talk about the offense without giving some love to the best offensive line in the history of the Broncos. Over the past few games, enormous holes have been opened up, and Kellen Moore has been extremely comfortable in the pocket.
The Broncos' high powered offense is a direct reflection of Nate Potter and his fellow linemen.
When you have the seventh highest scoring offense in the country, defense has a tendency to move to the back burner. Well, that’s not the case for the Broncos because they currently are eighth in the country when it comes to points allowed, letting opponents score only an average of 14.5 points per game.
Chase Baker, Shae McClellin, Tyrone Crawford and Billy Winn have led the charge for Boise State on the defensive line, racking up 12 sacks and perpetually wreaking havoc on the opposing teams backfield. This is the line that caused six sacks in the opening game against Georgia, and the Broncos are the smaller team.
Line backers Byron Hout and Aaron Tevis have been absolutely key in containing the short and screen passes while also making some of the most highlight reel worthy hits in college football this year. Together, they have been in on an impressive 31 tackles and are yet another asset to this unstoppable Broncos defense.
Statistically, the Broncos secondary has been lights out, as they are currently 11th in the nation in interceptions with a total of 10. Before getting hurt, Jerrell Gavins was leading the team with three interceptions, and his replacement, Quaylon Ewing-Burton, has displayed he fits right into the hard-nosed style of play as he has also made some impressive tackles.
I do have to admit there have been a few times when the defensive backs were beaten on routes and the Broncos got lucky because of a bad pass or a dropped ball. Something like that likely will not happen against San Diego State or TCU; therefore, the Broncos need to tighten up a bit on their coverage.
Overall, the Broncos defense has done an outstanding job keeping the opposing team from even coming close to matching Boise State on offense.
This is a mixed grade because there is a vast difference in the performance of each of the parts of special teams. We'll start with the bad news.
Many Bronco fans have been pretty upset about the field goal unit, but statistically, they haven't been as bad as even I thought. Combined, the two field goal kickers are 32-of-37 on extra points and 2-of-3 on field goals. Granted, missing extra points should never happen, and that is pretty bad, but these stats tell me that a lot of the angst the kickers have received is a bit misguided.
Dan Goodale has felt the brunt of it, as he has been involved in the most attemps. But you have to understand Brotzman made only 72 percent of his field goals, so his percentage isn't that far off.
These numbers may be skewed, as the Broncos are continuously going for the conversion on fourth down, but I think for now, the field goal kickers deserve a little slack. I will say that Brotzman was nails on extra points, something Goodale really needs to work on.
As for the rest of special teams, they have been quite impressive. Punter Brad Elkin continues to pin defenses deep into their own territory. He is currently averaging a career high 42.5 yards-per-punt and even has gotten in on a few tackles.
Mitch Burroughs and Doug Martin, as the returners, have done some excellent work as well. Burroughs brought back a 64-yard return last game and it is only a matter of time before he runs a punt back for a touchdown. We all know about Martin's running skills, so it's no surprise he has been very successful on kick returns, giving Boise State an average starting position near the 40-yard line.
If the kicking game shores up, the Broncos' points scoring machine will be unstoppable; however, there will be a time that a field goal can make or break the game. Lets hope Boise State is prepared.
This year, more than any previous season, it seems that Coach Petersen and his coaching staff have had to deal with more issues outside of the game itself. Here's a list so far:
1. Moving to a new conference.
2. A potential movement to the Big East or the Conference-USA/Mountain West Merger.
3. NCAA sanctions on the football team, leading to fines, less practices and scholarships.
4. Player suspensions for receiving benefits, all of whom have been reinstated.
5. Rumors of BCS programs recruiting Petersen to their teams
5. and once again, the whole country wishing Boise State would just go away.
To the staff's credit, they have done a spectacular job keeping this team focused on the task at hand. The amount of discipline the Broncos have displayed this season is, once again, on a higher level than just about every other FBS school in the country.
Petersen has displayed his trademark humility and class all while putting together yet another undefeated season and top five team.
It does help that the Broncos essentially have a coach on the field in Kellen Moore, but there is no doubt in my mind that Chris Petersen is the biggest reason for his football prowess.
At this point, there is absolutely no real fault I can see in the coaching staff, but most of didn't expect any faults to present themselves.
Overall Grade: A
The Broncos are well on their way to yet another undefeated season, conference championship and BCS bowl. They are playing beyond the expectations of just about everyone in the college football world and may finally get the credit they deserve in the end.
The last two games have shown what can happen when Boise State is clicking on both sides of the ball, and I believe when the kicking game comes around, there is not a team in the country that can beat them.
Strength of schedule aside, if Boise State continues the path they are currently on, they deserve a shot at the National Championship, Kellen Moore should win the Heisman and Chris Petersen will win his third coach of the year award.