Boise States' spring camp should have a much different feel to it in 2013. Most Broncos fans remember how tumultuous it was just a year ago when the defense needed a massive rebuild and the vacuum Kellen Moore and Doug Martin left behind seemed to drain huge portions of hope from much of the Boise faithful.
Fast forward almost 12 months, 11 wins and another Maaco Bowl Las Vegas trophy, and you have a whole new set of expectations going into spring camp this time around.
In retrospect, last season may be the best coaching job that Petersen has done since taking over at Boise State, and while this spring will probably not be nearly as dramatic as last, there are still some intriguing story lines.
Spring Game Day Information:
Date: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Time: 5:30 MST
Location: Bronco Stadium
Radio: Bronco Radio Network
Spring Practice Schedule: March 11 - April 13
What to Look for on Offense
Last season it was all about the quarterbacks in spring camp. Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea and Nick Patti battled it out for the starting job.
This year will be similar, but with one big difference.
Joe Southwick won the job last season, and although he didn't have the start Boise State fans desired, he finished strong and proved he could win.
It will be difficult for anyone to unseat Southwick this time around. His mobility and leadership in the Maaco Bowl gives him the clear edge going into to camp. However, coach Petersen loves competition, and he will not just hand the reigns to Mr. Southwick without proving he can handle them.
Still, the intrigue will be considerably less this season when it comes to quarterbacks. Running backs, on the other hand, are a completely different situation.
Jay Ajayi is clearly the odds-on favorite to win the starting job, but look for junior college transfer Derrick Thomas and a few others to make it interesting.
The offensive line will have a mild rebuild, but with a handful of experienced players coming back, the Broncos should be fine in that area. They are also loaded up at wide receiver.
The one area that could come into play is fullback. With just one official fullback on the roster (Jamal Wilson), look for the Broncos to once again utilize a tight end or perhaps a defensive player in that position.
What to Look for on Defense
The defense is in much better shape this season than last. However, losing Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins will definitely be a challenge for the secondary. Add to that the early permanent departure of Lee Hightower, and you have a considerable challenge.
Look for some junior college players and a few young guys to take their shot this spring.
Linebacker will also be a key area to keep an eye on. With J.C. Percy riding off into the sunset, the Bronco defense will need another workhorse.
There are a few returning players that should step it up this spring. Dustin Kamper, Tyler Gray and Blake Renaud are three to keep in mind. There are also some young guys looking for their chance to prove they belong; this spring they will get it.
What to Look for on Special Teams
Kicking is a sore spot for most Boise State fans. The Broncos did win the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas on the leg of Michael Frisina in 2012, but the winning kick against Washington was the final kick of Frisina's career.
So, back to the drawing board.
Enter Tyler Rausa. He is a junior college transfer that has a good leg, good accuracy and seems to know what the Broncos coaching staff is looking for.
In an Idaho Statesman article written by Chadd Cripe, Rausa puts it in perspective when he is quoted as saying:
They’re not looking for a huge leg. They want someone to just be himself, to not be overwhelmed by the crowd or the situation. A guy who will work hard and do what he has to do. It’s not given. I have to come in and earn that spot. I have to work my butt off.
With Rausa in camp, the competition should be between him, Dan Goodale and perhaps Sean Wale. As far as kickoffs and punts go, the Broncos have an excellent kicker in Trevor Harman, and he will be looking to finish his senior season strong.
The other intriguing special-teams story line to watch is on punt and kick returns. Shane Williams-Rhodes made quite a splash against Washington, so look for him to be there. But, there are several others who could join him.
Spring practice and the spring game should be less stressful this year for Broncos fans, but it should also be somewhat intriguing.
With many quality players coming back, several guys from last year's recruiting class looking to step up and some junior college transfers in the mix, it could be a very interesting month of action.
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