Wednesday, August 3, 2011

2011 Boise State Preview: Bronco Running Backs

If Boise State's running backs can stay healthy, something that hasn't occurred for three years, the team should have one of its finest backfields ever.

Of course, a statement like that has to be qualified given the rash of injuries that have occurred to D.J. Harper and others in recent years.  Doug Martin (5-9, 215) returns and that is good news if the backs are to take pressure off of quarterback Kellen Moore.  The senior from Stockton, California had 760 yards and 15 touchdowns in part-time duty as a sophomore and 1,260 yards last season, the sixth highest total ever in Boise, with 12 more TD's thrown in.  Since the top two wide receivers in school history (Austin Pettis and Titus Young) are now playing for NFL teams, Martin and his cohorts need to shoulder a good deal of responsibility this fall.  Martin sits in ninth place on the Bronco career rushing list and is just 40 yards behind Jon Francis.  But Martin will be going up against much tougher defenses beginning against Georgia and continuing through the Mountain West Conference season.

Harper (5-9, 210, Sr.) has shown flashes of brilliance, including the incredible 71-yard run for a touchdown against #10 Virginia Tech in last year's season opener.  If he's on the field, opponents will do well to keep an eye on him at all times--Harper has a 5.4 yards-per-carry career average carrying the football. 

Blue Through and Through has learned that Malcolm Johnson, originally suspended from the team two years ago due to academic issues, has apparently gotten all that worked out and has rejoined the team as a walk-on.  Johnson ran for 6,975 yards in high school and averaged over 200 yards a game as a senior. 

Jay Ajayi appears to be one of the finest recruits Boise State has had at running back.  Coach Chris Petersen hasn't declared yet if Ajayi will greyshirt or not--that may depend on the health of Harper and the progress of Johnson.  But I know another thing and that is that Petersen wants to even out the recruiting classes.  Given that just four seniors graduated in 2009, that would point to a lot of 2011 recruits playing as true freshmen.  If there's one that seems ready, it would be Ajayi.  Ajayi ran for 1,600 yards as a junior and 2,200 yards and 36 scores last season in earning Parade All-America honors.  Drew Wright ran well last year and the Vallivue High School product is more than capable of sharing the load.  Raphael Lambert (5-7, 210, Jr.) has made the conversion from the defensive side of the ball and will provide depth.

Zach Keiser from Coeur d'Alene High School is one of several walk-ons to join the team for fall practice, another is fullback Jamal Wilson from Fontana, California.

Fullback Dan Paul won't get a lot of press, but if the 2011 Boise State backs are successful, he will be a major reason why.  Paul (6-0, 250), is like another lineman out there and he can also catch. 

Boise State's Petersen Is Good At Sidestepping Land Mines

So the leading question on Dan Patrick's show this morning to Boise State head football coach was:

"Finish this sentence.  If we beat Georgia, _____________."

Petersen:  "An hour later, we'll be preparing for our next game."

Practice Begins Tomorrow!

It's not the start of the season but it's the next best thing, the beginning of fall football practice.  This is when we find out out if the Bronco players have been resting on their laurels or are working harder than ever before to avoid a repeat of last year.  Specifically, how much did the loss to Nevada get under their skin and are they working that much harder to get better?

I'll have complete details on how the camp is progressing and feature position articles as well.  Good luck Boise State!  May this be a camp full of hard work, progress, listening to your coaches, and an injury-free summer.