Monday, August 29, 2011

Malcolm Johnson is Out for the Broncos

Torn ACL.  I was really looking forward to see what the kid can do.

Might mean we see freshman sensation Jay Ajayi this year.

Deciding the Game for the Broncos

The crowd cheers when Doug Martin breaks free or Kellen Moore throws another laser-guided missile.  But serious football fans know the heroes are the members of the offensive and defensive lines.  The game is often won or lost in this combat zone of bent fingers, blood, sweat and guts.

The Boise State offensive line was one of the best in the nation last year in protecting quarterbacks and in opening holes for the running game.  That unit comes into the 2011 season virtually intact.  Center Thomas Byrd (5-11, 290, Sr.) anchors the line and will be starting his 41st consecutive game this Saturday against #19 Georgia.  Byrd is once again on the Watch List for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation's top offensive lineman.  There were some holes in his game early in his career but Byrd has long since been one of the best there is in college football.  He is in many ways the captain of the offensive line, the glue that holds not only the unit but the entire offense together.  His explosiveness off the line deals blow after blow to his defender--I have rarely seen Byrd's man make a tackle behind the Bronco line.

All-American Nate Potter (6-6,295) needs to work on his footwork to make him a complete force.  He's fine against bigger defenders but it's the quick defensive ends that can escape him.  Like Byrd, Potter gives the Broncos senior leadership.  Joe Kellogg (6-2, 303, Jr.) continues to show great improvement at the left guard spot.  That side of the line is solid and as good as it gets.  Where Boise State has concern is the right side.

         Has Leno won himself a starting job?

Senior Chuck Hayes (6-2, 288), who used to be on the defensive line, battled sophomore Jake Broyles (6-4, 289, So.) for the right guard spot and it appears Broyles has won.  It won't matter who starts because both are excellent and I expect both will play.  The position is important to help develop passing lanes for Moore.  Although Brenel Myers (6-2, 282, Jr.) handled TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, he hasn't started much since and, although Bronco Coach Chris Petersen hasn't named his starters yet, it appears that Charles Leno Jr. (6-3, 294, So.) will win the spot.  Again it doesn't matter and, like the guards, both of these contenders are excellent.  

Matt Paradis (6-1, 280, So.) is listed as the backup at center, but he can play anywhere on the line and has had an excellent fall camp.  Faraji Wright has always been one of those promising talents that is an enigma.  Wright (6-3, 275, Jr.) has yet to crack the starting lineup as the Broncos have continued to recruit better talent each year.  Michael Ames (6-4, 283) has started in the past and is certainly capable against anyone.  Bronson Durrant (6-3, 267, Jr.) is a similar story to Wright--a lot of potential that has yet to translate into a starting gig.  Spencer Gerke (6-3, 289, So.) is another very talented performer that could see the field either this year or next.  Injuries have kept Cory Yriarte (6-1, 286, Sr.) from becoming the force we had hoped he would be but could step in at any time if need be.

Marcus Henry (6-2, 284) will redshirt and this beast could be a four-year starter for Boise State beginning next season.  Reed Odhiambo is already 6-4, 302 and a redshirt year will tone him to a point where the mettle will be ready.  Depth comes from Chris Tozer (6-3, 302, Jr), Adam Sheffield (6-4, 313, Fr.) and Greg Dohmen (6-2, 282, Fr.).

Defensively, Boise State finally took the last step in building a championship-caliber team last year when the defensive line was molded into one of the best in the nation.  Of course the seeds were planted when these young men were first recruited but last year was the first time people outside of Bronco Nation found out what we knew was growing.  Now, Boise State is blessed with 10 men who can take their place on the line without missing a beat.  This freshness and flexibility enables defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski to wear down opposing offensive lines.  In effect, it's like double-teaming every offensive lineman for the entire game.  Opposing linemen won't know what that's like until they go through it.

Seniors Shea McClellin (6-3, 255) and Tyrone Crawford (6-4, 273) are a solid 1-2 punch.  Their strength and quickness enables them to penetrate the backfield where most bigger, slower defensive linemen would still be grinding it out on the line.  Jarrell Root (6-3, 262) also returns for his senior season and he'll see plenty of action this fall.  "Scary Kharyee" is what they call young Mr. Marshall.  At 6-1, 228, most teams would not use him at defensive end and he still has plenty of bulking to do.  But again, that size allows him to get around most offensive tackles that are used to big, lumbering linemen battling with them.  Those four ends give Boise State tremendous talent, strength and speed, something the Bronco defense excels at.  Justin Jungblut (6-4, 273, So.) and true freshman Tyler Horn (6-4, 253) are talented underclassmen.

LaGarrette Blount.  

There is no drop-off when you look at highly-recruited Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (6-3,303, So.) and Baconator Michael Atkinson (6-0, 312, Jr.).  Those guys are interchangeable with Baker and Winn and both are coming into their own as you read this.  Replacing Baker and Winn will be painless--you just move these two in.  Replacing Tjong-A-Tjoe and Atkinson will be a tougher task.  

But then you have promising players like Greg Grimes (6-0, 268) and Darren Koontz (6-3, 280).  If they are to crack the lineup next year, they will have to fight off some of the best defensive tackle talent ever to hit the school in Jeff Worthy (6-4, 289), a force that UCLA badly wanted for their own.  The fact that someone of his talent will not start against Georgia Saturday speaks volumes.  Freshmen Robert Ash (6-3, 259) and Sam Ukwuachu (6-5, 215) are right there in being part of the best Boise State recruiting class in history.

Depth comes from Beau Martin (6-2, 253, So.) and David Cushing (6-0, 263, Fr.).

Yes, the battle in the trenches will dictate the outcome of Saturday's season opener.  And these warriors are ready.

The Bronco Equipment Truck Leaves Tomorrow

Yep, we're almost there!