It's game week, ladies and gentlemen...that means that this weekend we'll be watching the Broncos put a beat down on the Ragin' Cajuns (not James Carville, as far as I'm aware). It also means we have just a few more days to slam through these unit previews, and today's unit is possibly a bigger unit than mulleted, bird-murdering pitcher Randy Johnson. That's right—it's the tight ends. Let's go.
We are in really good shape as far as tight ends go. Even with Roh potentially missing some time with whatever injury he has, we have plenty of depth. Talking with Drew today, I could very easily see us not taking a TE in the 2017 class. I could also see them taking one just so we have at least one per class.
No Jake Roh. Big brace on left leg. pic.twitter.com/MfaFKHX72U— Dave Southorn (@IDS_BroncoBeat) August 27, 2016
Dhaenens would probably be the next man up for the TEs as far as a starter simply because of experience. No one else has played yet as Blakley was injured last season and Knight had to sit out because of transfer rules. I would imagine Blakley could get a hardship due to missing the season, but that's another story. Pistone was a redshirt last season and Bates and Crabtree just got here.
Until Roh returns, I imagine it will just be a rotation of Dhaenens, Blakley, Pistone and Knight as I feel like you can't keep any of them off the field. I see no reason to burn a redshirt for Bates or Crabtree. That will actually work out well for them as both of them have the frames to handle a few more pounds, which is crazy to say since Broncosports currently lists Crabtree at 263 lbs.
We are overflowing with talent and size at the TE position, we just need to get them the ball, which leads me to my unreasonable prediction: We will have 4 300+ yard TEs this year. Roh had 357 yards, so to have 4 TEs over 300 would be pretty awesome.
Tight Ends are a fun bunch. Are they receivers, or are they blockers? Well, the Broncos have recruited athletes that can be really good at both.
Surprisingly, and perhaps refreshingly(?) enough, this group is relatively young. There is nary a senior in the whole group as Holden Huff, the only Senior last year, moved on to greener (bluer?) pastures. So that is good for continuity heading into next year. As for this year, Jake Roh is going to be the man in the group. I expect him to get the lion's share of the passes (yes, I am aware of his brace at the fan fest, but I am hoping that they are being over-cautious and it does not cause him to miss too much time). Alec Dhaenens will only get passes that are for sure touchdowns (says so in his contract). We should see a heavy rotation of Chase Blakley and Matt Pistone. Jake Knight, the RS Sophomore transfer from Auburn, will be an intriguing addition since the dude is going to be a stud, but where he fits in will be interesting to see.
As for John Bates, I expect a redshirt. He has a lot of versatility and he did a lot of great things for his high school, not only in football but in track & field where he was the defending champion his senior year in two sports: Javelin and 110m hurdles. Dude can do a lot of cool stuff.
Half-man/half-giant Nick Crabtree should also redshirt. With the talent that Boise State has available to them, barring injury, should preserve him to get better and probably hit 8'. I am not sure when 18/19-year-olds stop growing vertically. (editor's note: if they're anything like me...at age 14).
Roh (as long as his leg brace is just precautionary), Dhaenens (especially if the Broncos just use normal double-tight formation), Blakley, Knight, Pistone.
All of the tight ends, even the true freshman, appear on the offense at one time.
Boise State has 7 freaking tight ends, and three of them are former Pac-12 commits. Kent Riddle must sleep so well at night and not because of his Sealy Posturepedic. Maybe the scariest thing about Boise State's bounty of tight ends is that there is not a senior among them. This means that Boise State will still have AT LEAST that many tight ends in the mix next year and would've had another had David Lucero not gotten all felonious. So, look for a lot of guys to get playing time in 2016 in reserve roles or jumbo sets. As discussed before, Jake Roh appears to be a no-go for the opener, but Coach Harsin has said no one is "done for the year"...at least yet, so hopefully Roh—so far, our best receiving tight end— will rebound and be available for the lion's share of the season.
For now, I see no reason not to redshirt the two newbies—Crabtree and Bates. We just have enough bodies there to make it a little unreasonable. Of course, injuries occur and one of them could be just too good to keep off the field, but I don't really think that's going to be the case. If I had to guess which one would play if needed, I'd probably say Bates...who has a bit more speed than Crabtree on account of his hurdlin' and all. Four to five guys are for sure playing though and I'm very interested to see how they're all used.
Roh (if he gets healthy), Dhaenens, Knight, Blakley, Pistone...but all of this is sort of a wash as I fully expect to see multiple guys on the field—possibly at the same time.
Five tight ends, five O-linemen, one QB. I give you the Broncos new redzone offense.