While Kellen Moore was unquestionably the face of Boise State football, he was far from the sum of its parts. In 2012, the Broncos will be faced with replacing no fewer than seven players who earned first-team all-MW honors in 2011, including consensus All-American left tackle Nate Potter. In all, Boise State is absent 15 starters from a year ago (six on offense, nine on defense). Not only must the Broncos identify a successor to Moore, the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, they must also replace leading rusher Doug Martin, leading receiver Tyler Shoemaker and six of their top seven tacklers on defense before opening the season at Michigan State on Aug. 31.
During the course of his star-studded career, Moore threw 140 touchdown passes. Enter backup Joe Southwick, who needs only 138 to match Moore's total. Three others are also competing for the starting job this spring, including sophomore Grant Hedrick, redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea and highly touted true freshman Nick Patti. The Broncos are hoping senior D.J. Harper can fill the void left by Martin. Harper was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA due after suffering season-ending knee injuries in 2009 and 2010. Shoemaker's departure, though significant, is tempered by the return of sophomore Matt Miller and senior Mitch Burroughs, who combined for 113 receptions and 1,179 yards last season. The loss of Potter, whose spot is expected to be assumed by senior Faraji Wright, can't be understated. But Boise State has experience to build around in right tackle Charles Leno Jr., guards Joe Kellogg and Jake Broyles and centerCory Yriarte.
All four starting defensive linemen --- Shea McClellin,Billy Winn, Tyrone Crawford and Chase Baker --- are gone after accounting for 16.5 of the Broncos' 24 sacks in 2011. Look for senior Mike Atkinson (31 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss) and junior Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (15 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks in seven games) to fill the vacancies inside, while junior college transferDemarcus Lawrence and redshirt freshman Sam Ukwuachu battle for the outside linebacker/end hybrid spot formerly occupied by McClellin. Both have been impressive in spring drills. Also gone are linebacker Byron Hout and safety George Iloka, who ranked first and second, respectively, in tackles last season for Boise State. Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor will be the cornerstones of a secondary that also lost Cedric Febis,Travis Stanaway and Hunter White.
Bronco Special Teams
Burroughs led the league in punt return average (13.3 yards) last season, but the Broncos must replace punterBrad Elkin and settle the placekicking competition between sophomore Dan Goodale and senior Michael Frisina.
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