Boise State Football: 10 New Year's Resolutions for the Broncos
Boise State once again had a disappointing season by Broncos standards. When I say by Broncos standards, I mean they lost one game by one point and were left out of the BCS once again.
Even though Boise State had a bowl with a BCS opponent, the ending just didn't sit well with Boise State fans after four years of watching one of the greatest college quarterbacks in history attend his third pre-Christmas bowl in four years while lesser teams with worse players got better bowls.
The Broncos at least vented some of their frustration by embarrassing Arizona State with a margin of victory no other team had put up on the Sun Devils this year, in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl.
Though Boise State is saying goodbye to the best group of seniors it has ever had, the Broncos have much to look forward to in the new year. To keep this magical 10-year run alive, here are a few New Year's resolutions the Broncos need to make.
Go Undefeated in the Mountain West
With TCU departing for the Big 12 next year and Boise State's propensity for reloading rather than rebuilding, this shouldn't be too hard of a feat for the Broncos.
Next year Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada will join the Mountain West, but other than a single win here or there, those teams have not really posed a problem for Boise State over the past decade. Their biggest in-conference threat would likely be Air Force or Wyoming. However, Air Force will be in a pretty significant rebuilding year and though Wyoming has shown improvement they are still no match for a team with the caliber of play of Boise State.
If Boise State wins the Mountain West the could potential play in the inaugural championship game between the winners of the MWC and Conference USA, which will likely be Southern Miss. Hopefully, the winner of that game will get a BCS invite, but looking at this year's bowls I'm not holding my breath.
Continue the Stadium Expansion
Boise State is already on their way to accomplishing this goal, but in the current state of the economy the ball must not be dropped.
The Idaho State Board of Education unanimously approved the first round of expansions for Bronco Stadium earlier this month. Boise State will add 3,300 seats for the 2012 season.
This is just the first step in a multi-year project that will take the Blue from its current capacity of roughly 34,000 seats to 53,000 seats, providing an adequate arena for bringing larger schools to Boise. This will be especially instrumental in Boise State's quest for the Big 12 or Pac-12 since we all know the Big East is just a detour on their path to a larger conference.
Other facilities continue to be improved also, as Boise State will be adding a 69,000-square-foot facility to the North End Zone prior to the 2013 season. It will house the entire football program including the coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, locker room, training room, equipment room, weight room, academic center, players lounge and recruiting lounge.
Both the stadium and facilities expansion will provide a major boost to their recruiting, so the Broncos can continue to get quality players like Kellen Moore and Doug Martin.
Keep Chris Petersen in Boise
Chris Petersen is likely one of the top five coaches in college football right now, so it is no surprise that every year a round of schools come courting the Bronco head coach. Last year Stanford came a calling but was denied. This year it was Arizona State, Texas A&M, and UCLA but all were sent packing. Even after UCLA offered Chris Petersen $4 million or essentially double his current salary in Boise, Chris Petersen was not swayed.
Boise fans aren't breathing a sigh of relief yet since Penn State is "aggresively" recruiting Chris Petersen as a replacement for the now shamed Joe Paterno.
Though he would be an excellent replacement due to his football chops, squeaky clean image, and radiant likability, Coach Pete has repeatedly said he does not want to uproot his family and loves the Boise area.
He also is undeniably the reason for Boise State's success over the past six years and there is nothing in the future that shows any sign of Boise State's stock going into a decline. Chris Petersen literally has the opportunity to build a dynasty from the ground up. This is something that he likely could not do at Penn State.
The key is for Boise State to keep Petersen happy and not drive him to another school. So far they have taken the right steps, including a move to the Big East, expanding the stadium, and raining appreciation on coach Petersen on a daily basis.
Boise State and the surrounding community needs to keep it up.
Schedule an Additional Major BCS Opponent
Much like the last two years, Boise State will open the 2012 season against a formidable BCS opponent. Unlike the Chick-fil-A kickoff game this year, Boise State will likely be the underdog when they go into East Lansing to face Michigan State on August 31st. Yet if Boise State pulls off the upset the nay-sayers will once again point to the Broncos' weak remaining schedule and claim "playing one good opponent does not make a season."
Though they currently have BYU on their 2012 schedule as well, the Cougars are unlikely to impress anyone next year. So in an attempt to validate the Broncos post-Kellen Moore and to prove to the world that the Broncos do try to schedule big games, Boise State will need to aggressively pursue a second good BCS team to fill the void in their schedule.
Perhaps a prequel to Boise State's move to the Big East can be arranged with a game against Cincinnati or Louisville. Maybe Cal will be available or Arizona State would like a rematch. Really, it does not matter who the opponent is as long as they are perceived to be a legitimate BCS team.
For Boise State to finally quiet the haters they will need to schedule at least two BCS teams next year. The Broncos already have Michigan State; they just need one more. Lets just hope it's not Oregon State again.
Develop an Accurate and Clutch Kicker
Kyle Brotzman, in his freshman through junior years, was unstoppable, nailing every single PAT and splitting the uprights on field goals no matter what hash mark the ball was placed on. He even executed a trick play called "the riddler" to extend a Boise State scoring drive in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. However, he is now known for his two missed kicks against Nevada, ending the Broncos' BCS bowl run last year.
This year, the same happened as Kellen Moore orchestrated a beautiful final-minute drive, placing the Broncos well within field goal range, yet Dan Goodale went wide right, and instead of the National Championship, Boise State was insulted with a pre-Christmas game against an inferior Arizona State.
Kicking has been the bane of Boise State's existence over the past few years and with most of the Broncos' high powered offense graduating you can expect the kickers to receive a lot more work and to be in many more clutch situations. Dan Goodale and Michael Frisina will both be returning and both have had their share of struggles even though Frisina did show promise at the end of the season.
Many Bronco fans are eager to see up-and-coming red-shirt freshman Jake Van Ginkel take shots, especially after reports that he made two field goals of over 55 yards in one game as a freshman in high school. At the kicker combine he made 10/10 field goals from varying angles and distances reaching over 42 yards.
Lets just hope Van Ginkel can come through in those clutch situations the Broncos find themselves in for one game per year.
Rebuild a Severely Depleted Defense
Boise State likes to rotate its players into the games to get them experience and change the looks the opposing team sees on offense. Even Kellen Moore would sit out a play or two while Grant Hedrick or Joe Southwick took some snaps.
On defense Boise State had as many as 16 different starters take the field; however, this year 11 of them will graduate. The only returning true starters are J.C. Percy, Ebenezer Makinde, and Jamar Taylor.
It is safe to say that the one thing on defense that seemed to be the Broncos' Achilles' Heel will be their strongest suit next year. With Makinde and Taylor anchoring the secondary and some other players that made waves this year like Lee Hightower, Boise State should be in good shape next year on pass coverage.
Where they may have some issues is on the defensive line. Boise State is graduating every single one of its impressive defensive linemen with a few of them making moves to Sunday games. This line held opposing teams to an average of 3.5 yards per rush which is better than a few teams currently ranked higher than Boise State.
Next year the players to watch for will be Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Darren Koontz, both of whom are 6'1" or taller and weigh better than 285 lbs.
Of all of the positions Boise State took losses in, the defensive line was the most devastating. However, there is promise that the next batch are even bigger and more athletic as Boise's recruiting becomes better every year.
Continue the Push for a Better Conference
The ugly purple Mountain West Conference logo paint had barely dried to the blue turf before the Broncos accepted an invite to the Big East this year. Though Boise State will not make the move to the Big East until 2013, the Broncos need to continue to either press other good western teams to join the Big East or lobby to join a larger BCS conference like the Pac-12 or Big 12.
Let's face it: though the Broncos have finally achieved their BCS conference wishes, the Big East is just another stepping stone much like the Mountain West was. Boise State is aggressively taking steps to get into a legitimate BCS conference, but in the meantime they must continue to try and make the conference they are in better.
Sadly, next year the Mountain West takes a step backward with the loss of TCU and the addition of three mediocre WAC teams, but that doesn't mean Boise State can't do to the Big East what TCU did. The landscape is going to change next year for sure and with the ACC and SEC likely moving to 14 teams, the other conferences will not be outdone.
Boise State really becomes the only option for many of these conferences, so the Broncos must continue what they are doing and be ready for yet another move to anyone of the three neighboring BCS conferences.
Replace the Fresno State Rivalry with BYU
Since the 2001 major upset of No. 8 Fresno State by the Broncos, Boise State and Fresno State have created a rivalry between the teams. In 2005 "The Milk Can Trophy" came into play, symbolizing the competing dairy industries of California and Idaho.
Boise State leads the series 10-4 and has won the last six games by an average of 25.8 points. The last four games had a combined score of 220-51 in favor of the Broncos and Boise State at one point had scored 101 unanswered points over the course of two games on the Bulldogs.
I think its fair to say in which direction both of these teams have gone since 2001. However, Fresno State will be joining the Mountain West next year, forcing the Broncos to once again play the Bulldogs, at home no less, but after that I think it's time to put this rivalry to rest. Boise State eliminated its unnecessary rivalry with the University of Idaho so I think very few hearts will be broken on either side if the Bulldogs and Broncos don't face each other again.
And what better team to replace Fresno State than BYU? BYU just signed something like a 150-year deal to play Boise State home and home every year until 2163 (really it's a 12-year deal going through 2023, but close enough).
This is likely the closest thing Boise State will ever have to a cross-border rivalry, unless Nevada figures out how to play football post-Kaepernick, and with Provo and Boise being eerily similar in many aspects this rivalry could be ripe for the pickings. Plus, there are a ton of BYU fans in Boise as well as a ton of Bronco fans in Utah, and it is unlikely that Boise State will be able to overpower BYU year in and year out like they do to Fresno.
So Boise State, it's time to drop Fresno State and pick up BYU as a rival.
Revamp the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
I love being a native Idahoan, but I absolutely loathe the fact that all the state is known for is potatoes. The problem is we do it to ourselves by naming the one bowl in Idaho the "Famous Idaho Potato Bowl." Granted, just about every single American has eaten Idaho potatoes this year, especially if you love Mcdonald's fries, but couldn't they name it something a little less corny?
The Humanitarian Bowl was good back in the day. Just call it the Humanitarian Bowl presented by Famous Idaho Potatoes. Or call it the Gem State Bowl presented by Famous Idaho Potatoes. Shoot, even the Potato Bowl is better than the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Also, while we are at it, can we change the tie-ins to at least reflect the conference Boise State is in? I had no reason to cheer for either Utah State or Ohio because they were meaningless to the Broncos.
Maybe set it up to be a Mountain West vs. Big East bowl as kind of a transition as the Broncos move from one to the other. Then if no teams are available from those conferences, fill it with at-larges from other conferences.
I understand there are some legalities with bowl affiliation but something has got to be done.
Replace Kellen Moore
The single biggest loss Boise State will face next year is at the quarterback position. Kellen Moore was hands-down the best player to ever play at Boise State and he will be sorely missed. But we have heard words similar to that before.
After Bart Hendricks left, Bronco fans lamented that we would never see a quarterback like that again, but he was followed by a very good Ryan Dinwiddie.
After that we had Zabransky, who led the comeback win over Oklahoma and appeared on NCAA College Football for PS3 and Xbox 360. Once again Boise State fans conceded that we likely they likely wouldn't get another decent quarterback in a long time. They also conceded that they would likely not see one so aggravating, either.
Yet four years later we are looking back at the greatest quarterback in the history of Bronco football and thankfully he was far less aggravating.
So Boise State is once again in the tough position of replacing its best quarterback to date. So who is in the shoot?
Right now it looks like the fight is between perennial Moore backup Joe Southwick, triple option guru Grant Hedrick, and the red-shirt canon Jimmy Laughrea. Also, freshman Nick Patti will be in the mix, though it is likely he will red-shirt in 2012, since even Kellen Moore had a red shirt year.
The funny thing is all three of the candidates have stronger arms, better scrambling ability, and are generally more athletic than Kellen Moore. Lets just hope Moore's incredible preparation, vision, accuracy and poise rubbed off on them. If it did, Bronco fans may be in for another four years of great quarterbacking, and under Coach Pete anything can happen.