Who is your most important player on offense this season?
TBD QB, hands down. With any luck, we’ll know just who that is this next week, but as the quarterback goes, the offense goes and the Broncos have to get things right out of the gate if they want to have some success. Luckily for Bronco fans, the schedule is a tad “lighter” this year, so it’s a great year to break in a new guy. Florida State in Jacksonville isn’t SUPER ideal for a first time starter, but the new signal-caller will have time to find his rhythm in the first month of the season. If you want to twist my arm, I’d say a healthy Chase Cord will be that guy, but without said arm twist, I’m not all that confident in the accuracy of that pick. Funnest player on offense? Khalil Shakir.
Who is your most important player on defense this season?
The best player and the most important player might not align here, to be honest. The best player on defense is most definitely Curtis Weaver...a junior who already has NFL draftniks drooling. This is likely his last season as a Bronco and I’m sure he’s itching to go out with a bang.
The most important player, in my opinion, is whoever lines up across from Avery Williams at cornerback. Losing Tyler Horton to graduation leaves a pretty sizable void on one side of the field and if the Bronco pass defense wants to improve on a sub-par 2018 campaign, this guy’s gotta get it done. Again, since we don’t know the identity of said starter, I can venture a guess: Jalen Walker. Walker has 22 game appearances under his belt and has shown solid flashes of play over the last two seasons. We’ll need the best version of Walker to emerge (and frankly a better version of Williams as well) to get the secondary where it should be. Pierce and Nawahine should be able to handle safety duties just fine.
What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
Hopefully it’s adequate special teams. Special teams in 2018 largely contributed to the loss in Stillwater and definitely contributed to the loss in the MWC title game, so if something doesn’t change there we’re gonna have a rough time. Kent Riddle relinquished his ST coaching duties to focus on tight ends, but we’ve got some new blood that’s unproven in that arena as well. The good news is, I don’t know if special teams could get much worse, so onward and upward. If I had a “biggest change B” to toy with, I’d say it’s gotta be a faster start for the offensive line, who’ve gotten whipped the first few games of the season the last two years before remembering that they don’t have to get pushed around. We have too much experience and beef to let that happen again, and frankly, if it does...I don’t know if the problem is the players.
What is the most important game on this schedule, and why?
From a perception standpoint, Florida State—(Pete voice) without question. Of course, we have to win our division slate to realize our championship goals, and we need to beat BYU because, well...we just need to beat BYU, but Florida State—even an unranked Florida State—provides more name recognition and momentum for this team than any other game on the schedule. This ain’t the Seminole team that won the title a few years ago, but frankly, it ain’t your 2010 Broncos either. If the perception of the Broncos is going to stay in the top 25 realm, they need to go into Jacksonville and get things done. Barring that, they need to not get whipped...or as they say in Jacksonville, “whupped”.
What is your prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
I always think the Broncos CAN go undefeated because we’ve seen it a couple of times...and this ain’t a Murderer’s Row of a schedule either. That said, a new QB and some sizable question marks on defense leads me to believe that pie is well into the sky. Broncos probably go 11-2 (that means an MWC title appearance AND win) and land in a bowl that we won’t be that excited about, but it’ll be close to Christmas and signing day, so we’ll make it through.