Five Big Questions for Boise State’s 2019 season

Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

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.

Comments

I can get down with an 11-2 regular season and conference championship

Here is the Issue with 11-2

There was a day when 11-2 meant a top 15 ranking and maybe even a NY6 bowl. Now after 7 straight seasons of 11-2 and 10-3 seasons, BSU has lost much if it’s national respect that it earned during the Pete days. Sure we are still a high end Group of 5 team, But for the 3rd time in 4 years we are starting the season outside the top 25. Why? because we are not respected anymore, we aren’t a threat anymore, we aren’t a giant slayer anymore. All we are to the football world is an upper tier G5 team that competes for their conference title every year but has even lost that more times than not during the Harsin era.
Now I know this isn’t the Pete/Moore days, but if we want to earn that respect back and even keep the small amount of respect we have, We have to push for a NY6 bowl this year and beat a ranked P5 team.

I think the respect lives

More likely the pollsters don’t exactly trust a brand-new QB. That’s a big unknown commodity to be throwing a ranking at.

Not saying 11-2 forever will be satisfactory, but I don’t think it’s taking the shine off, either. UCF being that little bit better is driving that bus more than anything we’ve done or failed to do, really.

I also don’t want to pull a Nebraska with a trigger-happy firing because "WE CAN DO BETTER THAN 9-3" and whoooops maybe not

We have to win P-5 Games

If Harsin has a blemish it is that during his tenure we have not been the giant killer of old. Since the loss to Baylor in 2016 wins against P-5’s have been few and far between.

2014 – Loss away Ole Miss, Win away Arizona Wildcats
2015 – Win at home Washington (thank you), Win away Virginia
2016 – Win at home Wazzu, Win away Oregon State, Loss away Baylor (they were a 6-6 team that just lost their coach, sheesh and Ryp played like hot garbage)
2017 – Loss away Wazzu in overtime when we should have won, Loss at home(unacceptable) to Virginia coached by Bronco Mendenhall (so aggravating and that guy brandishing his fist makes me so angry), Won away Oregon Ducks (praise the Lord and all his angels!)
2018 – Loss away Oklahoma State, Boston College canceled but it felt like a loss

Yup there you have it. We have beat one P-5 team since the 2016 Baylor loss. Boise State was the original giant killer. First it was Fresno State (maybe there were others before but I will defer to Senior Chief for that) and then David vs Goliath in 2007 (Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl, not to be confused with the actual biblical account, that happened before 2007).

We were known for winning big games on the national stage. Oregon was our last skin on the wall. Don’t get me wrong, we have beaten ranked MW teams which is awesome, we should beat them but we need to win the big games against P-5 conferences on the rare occasion we get the chance to play them. Perception often is reality. If we can’t beat P-5 teams it becomes less likely we will ever be considered to join a P-5 conference if that ever becomes a viable option in the future.

"maybe there were others before"

Just a couple of National Championships, when we beat everyone in our echelon. (Hey, you asked!)

Yes, the National Championships

I was referring more to playing above our weight class but yes…you are right.

Yeah,

but they’ll do, at least until Alabama beats the New England Patriots.

I have a prediction

We will appear in a bowl game this upcoming season. But play in it? As we know, that’s a whole separate issue .

By the way, I’ve seen some people speaking poorly of Jalen Walker…
Y’all just wait. He’s gonna be good.

"I’ve SEEN some people speaking poorly . . ."

So—are we to assume that you read lips?
(It’s a joke, Aaron, just a joke.)

I don’t read lips,

But I do read text

Edit: winking emoticons communicate jokes very well

tough Love

Gotta differ, y’all. I request a perfect season of thirteen wins. I would request seeking 70 point games before putting in the second stringers, and pile on the style points.
If we are to impress the selections committee, we need to dominate every aspect of our game-from day one. Not only do we need perfection from our student athletes, we need each of our coaches to be spot on with our students capabilities. We are BSU, we have been here before and we can do it again.

Depth

Rather than shoot up the score to 70 I’d rather we keep playing backups when we hit 40 (assuming a large lead). Reps for young guys are more and more important with players leaving after their junior season more often. Style points are nice but helping ensure next season is just as good as this season is more important long term. Now if we want to put up 70 on BYU I’m all for it.

Agreed

One of the reasons that we were so good back in the Golden age was by the third quarter we had a lot of backups in getting real game time experience that got them ready to carry on the legacy. That’s the absolute best way to create a dynasty.

practice makes perfect

Almost agree, but if we are truely seeking a national title we need to go that additional ten miles. Otherwise, we are training our players
to give it all then to stop trying by the third quarter. I’d rather see total effort all four quarters, and put in the reserves, if we are 40 points ahead, during the last seven minutes of play.
Yes, it is important to train during game time, and give experience to the up and comers-but we need to assert our drive and show we can
tangle with the ‘big boys’ for all four quarters of play-not just dominate the field for three quarters and then give up the ghost in the fourth quarter. And that has happened too many times lately, some will someone please wake up to the fact that we need to make a greater effort.

Nevada game

Unfortunately that is probably what happened in the Nevada loss of 2010. Truth is our starters hadn’t played into the fourth quarter since Virginia Tech in our season opener.

Exactly.

A high school coach controversially started blowing people out for the full 4 quarters because every year his team would win every regular season game big by halftime and then lose the championship game. His plan actually worked- his team started winning championships after it was implemented.

I just hope

We get a bowl game this year. Not qualifying last year after our subpar season really hurt our brand. If we don’t go 13-0 and get a bid for the MAACO bowl against 6-7 Arizona, this franchise is over!

yeah, the football gig is so yesterday

get onboard for Baseball!!! Or just focus on women’s sports, where we rock all the time…

or just schedule Oregon schools for our P-5 feasts…

Let’s not be arrogant and spoiled

Regularly win by 40? Have a shot at a national title? This season, with a new QB and running back?

Really?

Anyone who would be disappointed with an 11-2 season, MWC championship and decent bowl game is, in my view, setting themself up for disappointment.

We are never going to the national championship playoff even if we go 13-0, until it is expanded to at least 8 teams. And an undefeated season is something you get a few times in a lifetime—if you are lucky, as we Bronco fans have been.

Dial it back and enjoy the coming season.

Go Broncos!

Keeping the status quo

We are in our comfort zone, our team seems stable hoovering at the ten win mark. We no longer crave for respect on the national scene-we don’t need to…we have our past history to rest upon. Who ever heard of any team winning by forty points-what an uncharacteristic expectation.
If history of come from behind victories are any guide, 38 points are the most any team scored in the last twenty-five minutes of play. But don’t think we have a problem, when we get ahead-let’s just coast to the end of the game for an easy victory and none of our players will get hurt. Players don’t have to give it their all, coaches don’t have to worry about being out coached because our season is always better than most other conferences, heck even our fans pay good money to see us pretend to want to be contenders.
I personally believe we are a better team than the naysayers who are content to win ten or eleven games. Do I expect more from a team whose history set the standard for mid major schools across the continent? Absolutely-Yes. Two major events must occur for BSU to get back into contention. First, we need to set a higher performance standard (higher goal for ourselves), and secondly, we need to get off our laurels and play each quarter to outscore the opponent. Our losses during the past four years (except one-Air Force) have all been during the final quarter or overtime. Each other team beat us because we were resting, or because our coaches were not adjusting , or was it an attitude of I played my best for three quarters-what more do you expect from me.
Me and my arm chair want more, I don’t want FCU to claim titles they haven’t earned-I just want our team to regain glory lost from prior dynasties.
I’m not trying to be arrogant or spoiled, I believe we can do better and achieve more by refocusing on our attitudes and capabilities.
By the way, no team has yet come from 40 points behind during the last seven minutes of play. It is a matter of practicality to build that point buffer
before sending in the next up and comers to gain experience. And, we should never ever be happy to coast during the final half of play- the other teams smells it of fear and become energized-referencing both Washington state and Fresno.

So if we're up by 35 late in the 3rd quarter you want starters still playing?

If our starting Qb gets injured with that big of a lead we risk more than the outcome of that game… we risk the season. I get that we don’t want to let the other team back in the game but that’s why Harsin and co have to use their judgement and weigh the risk. If we give up a garbage td or 2 near the end but still win by 2+ tds the combination of protecting starters and getting other players experience is well worth it to me.

Starters, reliefs, and new bees

The above theory is not an all or nothing system, our starters need occasional breathers-so allowing two or three reliefs at a time reduces efficiency by 18 to 27%—that’s still workable and beneficial. Replacing 5 to 6 up and comers reduces your working strength to under 46%
efficiency. If your team is ahead by 30 points and playing at less than decent capabilities you can expect the other team to turn on the afterburners, and come from behind victories have dropped teams out of contention.
Injuries happen, they happen in games and they happen in practice. they happen when a team falters and when a team scores. Every practice and every game puts every student athlete in harms way, and the coaches are well aware of that fact. My point is you have to make hay while the sun shines and score early and often, using the strength of your team. Odds makers love to calculate overs/unders and which team has a history of challenging their odds. Some teams have a perceivable chance of winning by coaching mis-directions, and out coach their rivals. Unfortunately BSU has experienced bad fourth quarters.
So, to answer your question fully, yes, I would keep my starters or reliefs in until the magic point is reached. 1) 40 points up the last seven minutes of play 2)50 points up the end of the third quarter or 3) 60 points up the last 25 minute of the second half.. BUT…if the up and comers totally turn over the game to any opponet, then I would put the first string back in the game at the 40 point mark. It ain’t popular but winning championships isn’t easy either.

Rec'd all of your comments.

It’s nice to have somebody arguing a different perspective- I’ll RECommend reading those comments all day. I think people forget that rec doesn’t mean ‘agree’.

It doesn’t matter what rec means...

…all that matters is I need them. Gimme.

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