Many things have gone right for the Broncos thus far this season. For instance, fumbles bouncing the right way, opponents' drives stalling at the right time, Bush Hamdan staying on the sideline.
But heading into their game against Southern Miss, it appears that lady luck may have finally started seeing other people.
Tight end Chris O'Neill has a broken foot and will likely miss the rest of the season. Senior defensive tackle Joe Bozikovich is out for a couple weeks with a shoulder injury, and fellow senior D-lineman Sean Bingham is listed as day-to-day. Ian Johnson is probable for the Southern Miss game with age-related decline.
The injuries, especially the season-ending one to O'Neill, are bad enough, but the positions where they occured should potentially be even more worrisome for the Broncos.
If we have noticed anything over the first four games of the year, it is that the Broncos could use some help along both offensive and defensive line. On offense, the depth is there, if not the experience and usual skill level. But a big part to bridging the gap between good enough and dominant was the tight end position. O'Neill was as much a part of the running game as he was the passing game, so his loss hurts in more ways than one.
Along the defensive line, the Broncos have found moderate success using a rotation system to keep linemen fresh and effective. With two linemen missing from that plan, Boise State's D-tackles will have to work a lot harder and a lot longer to make up for the injured players.
Even worse for the defensive line is that Southern Miss' best player is RB Damion Fletcher. The Golden Eagles will do all they can to keep the ball on the ground, especially if the Broncos show an inability to stop the run.
Let's allow the Madden ambulance to bring some much-needed levity to this situation.
How the Broncos adapt to these injuries will be interesting to watch. At tight end, Tommy Gallarda gets the start, and he and Kyle Efaw will see plenty of time throughout the game. Boise State's strategy at defensive tackle may be to let Billy Winn and Steven Reveles absorb the reps for everyone, but we imagine that they will figure out a way to keep the rotation method working.
So long as Kellen Moore doesn't miss any time, the Broncos should be in good shape.
Read more: Boise State likely loses tight end for season [Statesman]