Boise State's fall football camp opens tomorrow, so you'll have to excuse me if I don't make it through this post without a couple dozen exclamation marks and rambling, incoherent sentences that are full of WAHOOOs.
Having football back is indescribably great, but it also is realistically business. The Oregon game is less than a month away, and there are questions to be answered all over the Bronco roster. Five questions, to be exact. These five.
1. Who will emerge along the offensive line?
C Thomas Byrd has already staked his claim to a starting spot, as well as a mention on the Rimington watch list for the nation's best center. Thank goodness something good came from last season's offensive line learning experience.
The good news is that the patchwork unit that "led the way" and "opened holes" for Bronco running backs returns with a lot of game experience. The bad news is that the "big" uglies never did enough to secure a starting job. "Nuts."
Nate Potter and Matt Slater are familiar faces. So, too, Kevin Sapien and Cory Yriarte. And while those four would make a strong, solid starting unit, I'm interested to see which newbies show up and make a play for a starting role.
2. How will Winston Venable do on defense?
Replacing Ellis Powers is no easy task. The safety/linebacker was maybe the single biggest reason why the Bronco defense was so successful a year ago.
The news out of spring ball was that Venable is up to the challenge, but a lot can change before the month of August is over. I think he'll be fine. The Idaho Statesman thinks the job is still up for grabs. Which one of us do you believe?
3. Which true freshman might avoid the redshirt?
Last year, the top freshman in fall camp was George Iloka, whose rapid ascension into the starting lineup took everyone by surprise. By mid-August, coaches were sure he would have to redshirt. By mid-September, he was starting versus the University of Oregon.
There are a lot of strong candidates to pull an Iloka this summer, but I'm looking at three positions in particular: running back, linebacker, and wide receiver. As we've discussed before, running back is potentially very thin behind Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper. There could very well be an opening for stud Oregon HS running back Malcolm Johnson if he plays his cards right in Fall Camp.
Linebacker will be another relatively thin area with some room for a freshie to sneak in. I like the chances of John Michael Davis. Others prefer Mr. Allen Mooney. You really can't go wrong with either.
And then there's this Kirby Moore fella at wide receiver, who I hear is pretty good.
4. What did Bronco Nation do before Canadian Bacon was around?
With Michael Atkinson out injured/suspended for at least the first three games of the season, Bronco fans are going to be without their rotund Canadian fix for awhile. More importantly, Boise State is going to miss some serious defensive line depth.
The D-line was already a thin spot before Atkinson's rendition of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride to Hell. How the Broncos mend it in fall camp will be interesting to see. Last season, when injuries struck, BSU coaches started moving players around, giving us the gift of the Hout at defensive end. Will we see anything similar this fall? I think so. Don't be surprised if a linebacker (Aaron Tevis, maybe) shifts to defensive end and a defensive end (Shea McClellin, maybe?) moves inside to defensive tackle. If it works for the New York Giants, it can work for the Broncos.
5. How did Coach Pete spend his summer?
Of course, I could ask all the questions in the world, and Coach Pete would still find a way to surprise me. The great part of Fall Camp is that you never know what is going to happen, who is going to emerge, and what the opening day roster will look like on September 3.
Coach Pete and his staff have things under control - things I haven't even thought to ask.
Fall Camp scrimmage dates
- Thursday, August 13
- Friday, August 21
- Wednesday, August 26