2011 Record: 12-1 (6-1 in MWC)
Head Coach: Chris Petersen (73-6 Overall, 44-3 in MWC Games)
Four Year Win Trend: 12.5 wins and 0.75 losses
Last Bowl Game: 2011 Las Vegas Bowl: beat Arizona St 56-24
Big Games: 8/31 at Michigan St, 9/20 vs BYU
Stat to Cheer: scored TDs on 74.29% of trips to red zone (1st in MWC); only allowed 8 sacks in 2011 (1st in MWC)
Stats to Fear: according to Phil Steele, they return two starters on defense
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: (Offense: 5; Defense: 2; Specialists: 1)
Key Defensive Returnees: LB JC Percy (46 tackles), CB Jamar Taylor (27 tackles, 2 INT)
Key Offensive Returnees: RB DJ Harper (557 yds rush, 9 TD), WR Matt Miller (62 rec, 9 TD), WR Mitch Burroughs (49 rec), TE Gabe Linehan (23 rec, 5 TD), OT Charles Leno, OG Joe Kellogg
Inside Scoop with OBNUG:
CFBZ: Nine of Boise State's top ten tacklers were seniors last season. Who are the biggest pieces to replace on defense and who will be replacing them?
OBNUG: S George Iloka - The Broncos have a true sophomore safety they think will be perfect for the position. Lee Hightower played corner as a true freshman last year, but his natural spot is roaming centerfield, picking off passes, and lighting people up.
The entire defensive line - It's somewhat TBD who will step in for the top five D-linemen who are now in the pros. DTs Michael Atkinson (stud) and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (stud 1b) will do just fine. They were in the rotation for the last two years. Defensive end will see a bunch of different faces throughout with the best-looking faces those of Demarcus Lawrence, Tyler Horn, Sam Ukwuachu, and Beau Martin.
LBs Byron Hout and Aaron Tevis - The Broncos have platooned their LBs for years now, so losing Hout and Tevis is not the end of the world (like losing an entire D-line would be). J.C. Percy, Tommy Smith, and Blake Renaud will take turns tackling.
CFBZ: Boise State must replace Kellen Moore. How is the QB battle shaping up and which QB would you like to see get the start in game one?
OBNUG: No one really knows for sure how the QB battle is shaping up because the Bronco coaches won't say. The only reason people think Joe Southwick will be The Man is because he received more snaps than the others in the spring game and he did well with his many snaps. He's also the most experienced QB on the roster, but that should only matter if BSU needs a tiebreaker.
I would love to see a three- or four-year starter at the position, so that rules Southwick out for me. Jimmy Laughrea, a redshirt freshman, is my favorite on paper because he has had a year to learn the system and has four years left to play in it. He has the biggest arm, too.
Notable: Laughrea will very likely not be the pick. If it's not Southwick, it could be true freshman Nick Patti. Laughrea and Grant Hedrick seem to be a distant No. 3 and No. 4.
CFBZ: What areas do you see as Boise State's biggest potential weaknesses this year and who needs to step up in those areas?
OBNUG: Like last year, the problem of injuries remains an issue for the Broncos. Consider: The starters they lost from last year's team have to be replaced. Should those new starters also have to be replaced (due to injury), you are going pretty well down the depth chart to find able bodies. Depth at corner, running back, and safety, in particular, are areas to watch.
CFBZ: What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2012 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
OBNUG: I think the Broncos have a real shot at upsetting Michigan State in Week One, although it is less of a shot than they have had in their season openers of the past (Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oregon). I'll give Boise State an 11-1 season with the one loss either coming vs. Michigan State, BYU, or Southern Miss.
A successful season would mean a Mountain West championship and a win over Nevada. I would love to have a BCS bowl and a Top Ten ranking, but I don't think I'll be emo without one. I'm horribly biased but still somewhat realistic.
Chris Petersen has won at least ten games every year he's been head coach at Boise State. What is more impressive is that he's won at least twelve games every year but 2007. Expectations for the Broncos seem to have been ratcheted down by the national media because of their extreme loss of senior leadership/talent.
On offense, Boise State must replace four year starter Kellen Moore. During his four years he was a model of consistency and ran the offense about as well as it could be ran. In his career he threw 142 TDs against just 28 INTs. Whoever replaces Moore will have his work cut out for him. The Broncos also must replace RB Doug Martin. He topped 1200 yards and hit double digits in each of his last two seasons. The Broncos will return D.J. Harper and he will be a good RB for the Broncos as long as he proves to be durable. Boise State does return some talent at WR as they have two receivers returning who combined to catch 111 passes for 1179 yards and 10 TD. Boise has some good players returning at their skill positions and the OL will be fine, the big question is depth and QB.
As was noted in our Q&A, Boise has a ton of production to replace on their defense. They lose nine of their top ten tacklers and they lose a ton of talent off the defensive line. Guys like Shea McClellin, Billy Winn and Tyrone Crawford were major factors in the success and they will be missed along with the talent that departs in the back seven. Despite losing so much senior leadership, Boise is still projected to start around six upperclassmen so it's not like they will be throwing in guys who haven't been a part of the program. The defense won't be as stout as it was last year up front but it will still be the best defense in the Mountain West.
The big question for Boise State is how quickly this team can gel. With Chris Petersen as the coach this is going to be a good team but how quickly will they come together? The schedule is not a tough one but there are two really tough games at the start of the season as the Broncos travel to Michigan State to start the season and then host BYU in the third game of the season. The Mountain West says goodbye to TCU but teams like Fresno St and Nevada will be improved and Wyoming and San Diego State won't be pushovers. History tells us not to bet against the Broncos. Out of our four man voting crew for our Top 25, three out of four of our voters have the Broncos ranked at #20 or below. I've got them as a borderline Top ten team because of Petersen and because of their very workable schedule. Depth is a concern and they must stay healthy but I have a hard time betting against Chris Petersen. I'm really thinking the Broncos go 11-1 but based on where we have them rated I think the other three/fourths of our pollsters feel they will drop at least two games.
2012 Prediction: 10-2
Top 25 Countdown
#17 Boise State
#19 Ohio State
#23 Oklahoma State
Previous 2012 Previews:
Alabama can reload, LSU and USC can reload. There is no chance in you know where that Boise State is reloading after losing 6 players to the NFL (the most in school history), and that doesn't even include the winningest QB in Div-I history.
I'll agree w/ 10-2 (maybe even 9-3) only because the MWC is so weak this year, but I don't see this inexperienced team going into East Lansing and coming away with a victory. Sparty has way too much on D for the Broncos.
@The Saturday Edge Outside of the Sparty game, Boise should be favored in every game they play. And Boise doesn't have to be Alabama. They don't play anybody nearly as good as LSU or Arkansas. Hell, they don't even play a team as good as your Auburn Tigers (outside of Sparty).
@CFBZ Agreed. With TCU now departed the MWC is really weak. Point is I don't believe this team is anywhere near as good as they have been in the past 3-4 years and we will probably find that out in a few upset losses along the way (BYU, So Miss, Nevada ??).
@The Saturday Edge It certainly won't be a walk in the park but I will have confidence in Petersen until he does something not to deserve it.
@CFBZ UGA has a lot more experience than Boise does this year. The road is not a good place to be w/ an inexperienced team, A long trip to So Miss won't be easy, new QB or not (Boise will also have a new QB). Upsets happen, and they are more likely to happen with an inexperienced team on the road IMO.
@The Saturday Edge I don't disagree. It's just that list of teams makes Georgia's schedule look impossible.
@CFBZ I didn't mean to imply they will slip up against each of those teams. Those are just the teams I could see them possibly losing to if they do slip up, which I believe they will at least once this season.
@The Saturday Edge I could see them losing one of those but overall those three teams all have some pretty serious issues. BYU beat what...one team with a winning record last year? So Miss has a new coach and no QB, Nevada will be improved but it's not like they were great last year. Chris Petersen is one of the top coaches in the country and I would put my faith in him over any of those three teams. Not saying they won't slip up somewhere but I just don't see them having multiple slip-ups unless they get bit by an injury bug.