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Sports Illustrated's Gene Menez talks Broncos, Kellen Moore, and headline puns with OBNUG

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Sports Illustrated's Gene Menez sang the praises of Boise State in his SI preview story on newsstands this week. I thought I'd give him a chance to sing even more praises in a one-on-one interview.

For the interview, Menez will be playing the role of William Shakespeare, and I will be Chris Farley from The Chris Farley Show.


Kevan Lee      Gene Menez

To the figurative interview chair!

Kevan Lee: Excellent preview, Gene. It was really interesting to hear the inside scoop of Kellen Moore's recruitment to Boise State. Were there any other details of that story that you weren't able to fit into your preview article? Did Chris Petersen mention other quarterbacks he was interested in instead of Moore?

Gene Menez: There are no more details about that story, and Petersen didn't mention any other quarterbacks. He did mention, however, that when he was in the Prosser High football office to recruit Kellen, a coach asked him to take a look at a picture on the wall. The picture was of an on-the-field celebration photo of an old Prosser team celebrating a state championship. In that photo was a 5-year-old Kellen wearing a Boise State hat. So you could say that Kellen's playing at Boise was meant to be.

Kevan Lee: Picking the Broncos to go undefeated obviously means picking the Broncos to beat Oregon in the season opener. How do you see that game going? Given the Boise State preview's focus on Kellen Moore, do you think the sophomore QB will be the difference?

Gene Menez: That game will be must-see TV on that Thursday night. I really like the Broncos in that game because of 1) playing in Boise, which should be rocking for that game and 2)Oregon will be breaking in a revamped offensive line, which I don't think will be completely in sync until later in the season.

Kevan Lee: Apart from Oregon, which game on the Broncos' schedule do you feel will give BSU the most trouble?


Gene Menez: Can I say none? The trip to Fresno State is the next obvious choice, but, as I wrote in the story, the schedule is really set up to win out. If Boise is good enough to beat Oregon, it's good enough to beat the rest of the teams on the schedule.

Kevan Lee: Your story mentioned Boise State's need to replace six defensive starters. Did Chris Petersen give you an idea of how that process is going? Are there any players or positions that stand out?


Gene Menez: If Petersen was overly concerned about the defense, he didn't make that known to me. I think with so many lettermen back from last season he feels the holes will be plugged. In particular, he was high on the corners, especially the hypercompetitive Kyle Wilson, who will allow the unit to play more man defense and go after the quarterback.

Kevan Lee: The running game will certainly be a focus for the team in fall camp. In addition to running more plays from under center, are there other strategies that you heard the team might try this fall?


Gene Menez: Are you sure you want all of Boise's opponents to know? I kid. I kid. I didn't get that specific in my interviews with coach and the players, but I get the sense that the Broncos will use more two-back sets than they did last year, in addition to being under center more.

Kevan Lee: In your story, you quoted Chris Petersen as saying, "(Kellen Moore) is not your classic passer." From what you have seen of him and considering the time you spent speaking with him, does he come off as a "classic college quarterback"? In other words, how would you describe him, given your experience around college football and other college QBs?

Gene Menez: College football history is filled with quarterbacks who put up absurd numbers but didn't have, shall we say, qualities prized by teams that play on Sunday. Unless Moore grows some (and he told me that he stopped growing in high school), he's likely to fit that mold. That's not a slam on him. He has the makings to be a great college quarterback and, more importantly, a prolific winner. What he may lack in size, arm strength, athletic ability, etc., he makes up for it with preparation, instincts and accuracy.

Kevan Lee: Was there any hesitation among the Sports Illustrated staff (or with yourself) in picking the Broncos as the top non-BCS team, given that everyone else seems to be picking them? If not Boise State, what other non-BCS schools are you high on?

Gene Menez: There was no hesitation at all because the teams atop the Mountain West seem down this year. I also did the stories on TCU and Utah, and TCU should be good, but the Frogs don't have a schedule to go undefeated. Because of the significant losses to the roster, I think the Utes are likely to take a step back, despite our ranking them so high.

Kevan Lee: I noticed your use of a headline pun. Did you have some others up your sleeve that didn't make it past the copyeditor?


Gene Menez: I wish I was that smart. I'll work on that some Moore.



Kevan Lee: Last question, and it's a softie. Where were you for the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and Oklahoma?


Gene Menez: On my sofa, wishing I was at the game to witness one of the best upsets and finishes in bowl history first-hand.


The Sports Illustrated college football preview hits newsstands this week. Go buy it.