Boise State Football: 4 Reasons Boise Will Be a Running Team in 2012

Martin Sondermann@@GamedayreporterAnalyst IIMay 28, 2012

Boise State Football: 4 Reasons Boise Will Be a Running Team in 2012

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    When you read this headline, you probably thought to yourself, "There is no way the Broncos will be a running team in 2012, whoever wrote this article has got to be crazy."

    Your thoughts could have been even more colorful than that, but for the sake of the children, let's pretend they were mild and politically correct.

    Still, even though the Broncos love the pass attack and will no doubt do everything they can to make that work, you have to believe that the running game will not be an after thought. After all, a one-pronged approach is not acceptable for coach Petersen.

    Last year with the "Surgeon" a.k.a. Kellen Moore at the helm, the Broncos racked up 4,022 yards of passing offense. Moore accounted for 3.800 of those yards while Joe Southwick contributed 198 yards to that total.

    The Broncos added another 2,235 yards of rushing to their potent attack, with Doug Martin leading the way having contributed 1,299 hard-fought yards to the stat sheet.

    D.J. Harper gained 557 yards of his own last season with Drew Wright adding 218. It will of course, be Harper and Wright leading the way on the ground this season as well. However, without Doug Martin and the obvious problem with depth at the running back position in 2012, one has to wonder how the Broncos will make it work.

    However, if you look at the possibilities, the Broncos may be poised to have a very potent running attack. It may not look like it has in the past, but nonetheless, their is serious potential.

    Let's look at four of the biggest reasons the Broncos could have success in the running game.


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    Mobility at quarterback is not going to be a surprise to any team playing the Broncos in 2012. No matter who wins the starting job, they will be far more mobile than Kellen Moore.

    Joe Southwick is a very fast and efficient runner. He waits to scramble, but knows how to do so when it is warranted. Nick Patti, on the other hand, is extremely fast. If he is the starter or even contributes in certain formations, opposing defenses will have fits shutting him down.

    Grant Hedrick has already proven his worth as a "wildcat" contributor. Last season, Hedrick had 8 carries for 70 yards in key situations. For those who are counting, that is 8.8 yards per carry. Coach Petersen will take that kind of yardage anytime he can get it.

    Overall, the position of quarterback will look much different in 2012.

    Of course, the passing game will be the first option, but it will be nice for the Broncos to know that their quarterback is able to move if he has to.

    Look for new offensive coordinator Robert Prince to utilize his backups in a way that keeps them involved and gives the Broncos an edge in 2012.


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    Look for coach Petersen and coach Prince to get really creative in 2012.

    With Harper and Wright as the only proven running backs on the roster, the Broncos will need to think outside of the box.

    However, if there is anything we know about the Broncos, it's that "outside the box" is a very comfortable place to be.

    With Mitch Burroughs and his extremely fast brother Dallas on the roster, don't be surprised if they are incorporated into the mix. Last season, both of them were utilized in a minimal fashion in the running game, but that will no doubt change in 2012.

    Mitch Burroughs has proven himself as a playmaker over the years, and his brother Dallas seems ready to break out. One thing's for sure, if either of them find the open field, they will be dancing in the end zone. Okay—not dancing, coach Petersen wouldn't put up with it, but you get the point.

    Also, look for Chris Potter to contribute if needed. He is another fast guy who could be called on if the Broncos can figure out a way to make it work.

    Another player that could be considered at running back is local Eagle High School standout Dillon Lukehart. He is currently working out at Safety, but while still at Eagle, he ran for 1,824 yards as a senior with 26 rushing touchdowns.

    There are probably others on the roster who will get their chance as well, and it will be interesting, to say the least, to see how it all turns out.

    You have to believe the creative juices are flowing down off Broadway, and it will be exciting, entertaining and no doubt successful when whatever plan Petersen, Prince and the rest of the coaching staff come up with is finally unveiled.

Fresh Faces

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    The Broncos currently have D.J. Harper and Drew Wright at running back. Beyond that, there are a lot of questions.

    We have already looked at how the Broncos might compensate for the thinness of the roster with the additions of mobile quarterbacks and the creative usage of wide receivers or defensive players.

    However, some of the assets of the Bronco running game may come in the form of fresh faces.

    The "potential" that exists in the form of freshmen running backs is incredible. Of course, "potential" is just that. They are unproven, but if one or two of these guys lives up to his hype, the Broncos are going to be sitting pretty come Fall.

    Jay Ajayi is a redshirt freshman with the on-the-field skills to make some serious noise. He redshirted last season with a knee injury, but is healing well and is poised to contribute in 2012.

    Ajayi was all-conference first-team his junior and senior year at Frisco Liberty High School in Plano, Texas. In his senior year at Frisco Liberty, he rushed for 2,240 yards on 225 carries and 35 touchdowns. As a junior he also contributed over 1,600 more yards on the ground.

    He has a major upside, and if he can get healthy, he will be a force on the ground for Boise State.

    Jack Fields is another incredible running back with serious potential.

    The guy runs over, around and through players like few can. Of course, that is from high school.

    After watching a lot of film on Fields, it is clear that this guy is special. It would probably be more surprising if he didn't have success. He is fast, strong and agile. That is the perfect recipe for a running back. Look for Fields to be an instant contributor in 2012.

    Devan Demas is another true freshman who may get a few carries this season. He is another fast running back with incredible moves out of the state Texas. Watch his high school game film, and you will see why coaches at Boise State are excited for him to get here.

    Last, but not least, there is Phillip Hogan.

    His Spring game performance left a lot to be desired. He finished that day with 11 carries and only 10 yards. Still, there is something about this guy.

    He is certainly not the biggest guy on the roster at 5'6" and 163 lbs. But then again, neither was Jeremy Avery and the Broncos found him a niche. They could do the same for Hogan.

    Fresh faces will be all over the field this season for the Broncos. Those same faces will be attached to players that will need to contribute in a big way if Boise State wants to continue its historic rise.

Familiar Faces

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    The Broncos will have a pair of familiar faces on the field in 2012. However, one of those faces seems to have been around for six years—oh wait, he has been.

    D.J. Harper is in his sixth year of eligibility. This of course, is because Harper had two season ending knee injuries in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

    Last year, Harper looked plenty healthy and as previously mentioned, contributing 557 yards of rushing in 2011.

    That number should only go up in 2012.

    Harper is poised to have his greatest year as a Bronco.

    If he stays healthy, you can expect him to have Doug Martin kind of numbers. He has the talent, the speed, the offensive line and the cast of key players around him to gain some serious yardage.

    Look for Harper to impress this season in a big way.

    Drew Wright will also be back as Harper's backup in 2012. Wright is a strong running back who should be able to consistently contribute and give Harper the much needed rest time. Which will only become more important as the season goes on.

    Wright showed us some of what he could do last season, even if it was tarnished a bit by his fumble late against TCU. That fumble will no doubt make Wright the wrong guy to mess with in 2012. He has added fuel to the "prove it" motivation, and you can bet he will indeed prove he belongs.

    The tandem of Harper and Wright will be a dominant force for the Broncos in 2012. If they can get the help they need from those around them, it will be a very good year for the Boise State ground game.

    Look for the running game to surprise a lot of people in 2012. If all the pieces fall into place, or even  some of them do, the running game will be more of a factor this season than it was last.