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Will the Bronco offense look different in 2011 with the departure of Bryan Harsin?


Shawn Raecke | Idaho Statesman

Since everyone missed Kevan's and my LOI day leg wrestling match...I thought I'd let you all witness us fight like Craig James and Desmond Howard on your computer screens in the next installment of our OBNUG roundtable. The question of the day is "Will the Bronco offense look different in 2011 with the departure of Bryan Harsin?" Join us after the jump to see just how long it took Kevan to play the "Kirk Cameron card".

Will the Bronco offense look different in 2011 with the departure of Bryan Harsin?

Drew's opening statement: 
I'm saying "yes", and here's why: the 2010 Bronco defense. Boise State returned every starter on defense in 2010 save one and implemented the same basic scheme that they had since 2008 under Coach Wilcox...but this defense was drastically just had to pay attention. Coach Kwiatkowski, heretofore referred to as "Coach K" so as to save my wrist from what sports writers' call Yastrzemski syndrome, was far more aggressive when it came to blitzing in 2010 and the results were staggering—Boise State doubled their sack numbers from 2009 and went from 73rd in the nation to 1st. Conversely, (I use this word to make my point seem more profound, deal with it) the Broncos turnover numbers plummeted between 2009 and 2010—going from 3rd in the nation to 26th. Same personnel, same scheme...much different results. Why? Different coordinator and a different philosophy. 

Brent Pease won't re-invent the wheel with the 2011 version of the Bronco offense. Good lord, he'd be a fool to tinker too much with an offense featuring a senior Doug Martin, a senior Kellen Moore, and a veteran O-line...but you'd better believe that the 2011 offense will have a different feel to it than the 2010 Harsin-led unit—and there's more to that than just the loss of two all-time greats at receiver.

One thing is that Kellen Moore has yet another year of calling the shots under his belt and no doubt the coaches will have even less trepidation about letting him make on-field calls. This might just change the dynamic of the sometimes scripted-looking Bronco offense that is prone to stalling in the redzone. Also, Harsin, as good a playcaller as he was/is...was less of a gambler than Pete was when he was concocting the poison for Dan Hawkins' Bronco teams. Pease is also not a Coach Pete protegé like Harsin was and has coordinator experience, albeit at schools with vastly different offenses than Boise State's (Baylor, Montana, and Kentucky). Pease won't need to fix what isn't broken...but like Coach K, will bring a new outlook to the coordinator's booth and he won't have to change the scheme for the 2011 Bronco offense to have a vastly different look and feel than Harsin's. Aggressive playcalling, years more situational experience, and a desire to put his own stamp on the unit ala Coach K will make it so.

Kevan's response:
Good points all, Drew. Not that I believe any of them. Team Kevan forever!

Will the Bronco offense look any different? No way, Jose Roberts. Bryan Harsin is gone, but look at all the brilliant people left behind: Chris Petersen, Kellen Moore, Brent Pease, Chris Strausser, Kirk Cameron. These people founded the Bronco offense, honed it to perfection, tailored an entire roster to fit, and rode it to championship after championship after Vegas Bowl after championship. You don't mess with a good thing. 

"I'm praying for you, Kevan." (via WoM)

In what measurable ways could it change, anyway? The Boise State offense has a reputation for featuring multiple systems. It has singleback, I formation, Pistol, shotgun, Wildcat, and anything else that you can dream up, write on a napkin, and express mail to the Bronco athletic office. BSU's offense is practically undefineable - like love or the fair catch interference rule. It can't look different if its calling card is looking different. 

Perhaps I'm taking things too literally, but I have a hard time seeing how the Boise State offense will be much different this year apart from the normal ebbs and flows. Regale me with more Coach K anecdotes, Drew.

Drew's response:
I'm guessing "Team Kevan" is option C behind Team Edward and Team Jacob, right? 

I shant argue with you that the glut of returning offensive wunderkinds will leave the Bronco offense with a solid footing, but again I will invoke the name of Coach K (hallowed be his name). Wilcox laid a groundwork and Coach K made that D his own. It's also worth noting that Coach K had more experience at the D-coordinator position than Wilcox did. Likewise, Pease has more experience as a coordinator than Harsin did and will bring a fresh set of eyes to the box. Harsin was darn good (just ask Mack Brown), but Pease is no slouch and won't settle for status quo even with offensive veterans returning. That's why I believe that the new mindset brought by Pease, along with more new wrinkles than a California Raisin (see, I can do obscure metaphors too) will make the 2011 Bronco offense a transformed unit.

The measurable ways it will change will be evident in run/pass ratio, redzone efficiency, percentage of 4th down tries, utilization of backfield, etc...Sure, they'll run a lot of the same plays...but the offensive philosophy will have changed dramatically! Like Gob Bluth would say: "C'mon!"

"Naw, said it best." (via This Culture Pops)

Kevan's response:
I see your measurables and raise you some nitpicks:

RE: Fourth down attempts: These are not a reflection of a more aggressive offense but a more aggressive coaching philosophy, which begins and ends with Coach Pete.

RE: Run-pass ratio: I'm going to assume you think this will skew more heavily in favor of the run since Austin Pettis is now Tyler Shoemaker and Titus Young is now parts of Geraldo Hiwat and Mitch Burroughs. In the past three years of Bronco offense, the run-pass ratio has been 486 runs to 424 passes (2010), 508:458 (2009), and 449:438 (2008). For there to be a noticeable change in the run-pass in 2011, Boise State would have to run the ball 550 times or so, which would be 70 more carries than last year, which would be insane for my fantasy team Doug-Hour Martinizing.

RE: Backfield utilization: I'm not sure how many backfield permutations remain that the Bronco offense doesn't already feature. The three-backs-at-once Stable, maybe? And I'm not even sure that one counts since it was in the playbook last year but never saw the light of day.

RE: Red zone efficiency: Ah ha! I've found the crux. What is one way to improve your red zone efficiency? Well, actually, execution would be the main way. But what's the second? Playcalling. Exactly. Nice work, IBM's Watson computer. Here's some compressed air. Go nuts.


What we're really arguing, er, debating about here is playcalling, right? Will the playcalling change with Brent Pease in charge? I say no - at least not demonstrably. Coach Pete won't let it, Kellen Moore won't stand for it, and Brent Pease will realize in spring and fall camp that the way the offense has worked for years is pretty stinking great. As George Bluth Sr. would say, "The money's in the banana stand," or something like that.great. As George Bluth Sr. would say, "The money's in the banana stand," or something like that.


A veritable cash cow.

Drew's response:
Actually the question was "Will the Bronco offense look different in 2011 with Harsin's departure?" Now that I read it again, I realize that I set myself up to win this roundtable because I feared another draw like we had in the "Pettis or Young" argument. The reason this argument can't really be lost is that any demonstrable difference in statistics or frequency of plays is by definition a "different look". These frequencies and stats change from year to year whether there is a loss in the coordinator's box or not. I suppose the crux of my argument (nice word, thanks for making it so I didn't have to think of it first) is that Bronco Nation shouldn't expect the status quo that we've enjoyed since 2006 on offense. I really think Pease will be a different kind of coordinator for us because he didn't come up under Coach Pete's tutelage. He'd be a fool to drastically shift the playcalling or install a new offensive scheme, but I think he'll do things much differently than we've become accustomed to...and I think that will be a good thing. Besides, Chris Petersen's still the head coach, how bad could one really screw things up? Don't answer that, by the way...I'm sure I could screw things up plenty with my "everyone go deep, even you Joe Kellogg" offensive philosophy.

So, yeah suck on that...or something.

Kevan's closing statement:
So I was set up? I knew I should have listened to the Admiral Akbar in my head.

You are right to say that the offense will change this year inasmuch as Brent Pease and Bryan Harsin are not the same person and will respond differently to challenges and Jake Broyles's request for playing time. But to say that the offense will undergo a seismic shift away from the status quo is a stretch for me. I just don't think Pease will have that type of freedom. And for the offense to change significantly, I think it would have to come from a shift in playcalling or offensive scheme - both of which you said you don't expect to happen. 

I'm afraid we may have drawn again. Happy trees to you, Drew.

Drew's last word:
If anyone set you up, it was Internal Affairs...but good arguing nonetheless. Still not sure I was arguing in favor of a seismic shift, but I do believe even casual observers of the program will notice a difference on offense this year...just like casual observers might have noticed our D going beast mode last year to the tune of about 50 sacks.

Your turn

What say you? Will the Harsin's departure still mean more of the same in 2011? Was Drew's question vague and misleading? Why was Kevan such a meanie? Let us know in the comments.