At the end of the 2012-2013 college football season, Chris Petersen was commended for his terrific coaching job after leading Boise State to a 11-2 record, a third consecutive MAACO Bowl Las Vegas victory and a share of the Mountain West Conference title.
This commendation was clearly well deserved due to everything that Petersen and his coaching staff had to deal with last season.
Replacing quarterback Kellen Moore and running back Doug Martin on offense seemed to be the most important tasks for 2012, but that was really only scratching the surface. In addition to Moore and Martin, the Broncos also had to replace tight end Kyle Efaw and offensive tackle Nate Potter, two less well-known but still integral pieces to the offense.
Patching the holes left from the departure of Shae McClellin and Billy Winn on the defensive line was going to be similarly important, despite the fact that the 2012 Broncos appeared to be pretty solid defensively heading into the season.
To top it all off, the Broncos would need to get it together right from the beginning, as the season opening game saw trip to East Lansing to take on the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans.
Fast-forward seven months, and the Broncos are preparing for the 2013 campaign behind an experienced quarterback, a plethora of receiving targets to throw to, and a defense that appears to be set at every position other than cornerback.
On top of all that, the basketball team is playing pretty well, too.
Life is pretty good right now if you’re a Boise State fan.
With Joe Southwick behind center, one of the most improved quarterbacks in the entire nation as the 2012 season progressed, the Broncos have a capable passer who can also escape trouble with his feet much better than the revered Moore could.
Southwick’s experience as a starter should result in much better decision-making early in the year, which could result in an offensive unit that is humming by mid-September.
Although D.J. Harper won’t be taking the heat off of Southwick this year, sophomore back Jay Ajayi proved last season he is more than capable of taking over as the feature back in 2013.
Ajayi rushed for 548 yards on 82 carries last season, and even had a better yards-per-rush attempt average (6.7) than Harper (5.0). Expectations for the sophomore will be high, as Coach Petersen likes to get the offense going on the ground first, but things have worked out pretty favorably for Boise State running backs the past few years.
However, the previously mentioned receiving corps is arguably the most talented unit on the entire team. Five of the top six players in terms of receiving yards return to the team, including Matt Miller, a second-team All-MWC performer.
The combination of size and speed that Boise State’s receivers possess should give them an advantage against just about every secondary they face in 2013.
While the offense will get most of the glory, especially if it can recapture some of the magic that the 2011 squad was able to display, the defense should once again be solid.
Although the Broncos must replace J.C. Percy and Tommy Smith at linebacker, the team should be okay with Blake Renaud assuming a starter’s spot. Renaud has the chance to be Boise State’s next workhorse and leader on the defense.
The only area that could give the Broncos major trouble in 2013 is the defensive secondary, where the team must replace standout seniors Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor. However, it would be incorrect to assert that the Broncos do not have talent at the position.
Boise State did a nice job landing two potential starters in JUCO players Mercy Maston and Cleshawn Page. Both Maston and Page could become the starting cornerbacks for the Broncos this season, and both also received attention from Division I schools in high school.
Assuming that the defense holds up and doesn’t experience too many issues against the passing game, the 2013 Boise State Broncos will be a very dangerous team.
But as always, expectations will be high. Extremely high.
Luckily for Petersen & Company, that’s okay. They should be high, because this team has enough talent to run the table this coming season.
Boise State fans can unapologetically expect big things from this team. While the schedule is fairly difficult (essentially all of the team’s biggest games are on the road), the 2013 Broncos are more talented than the 2012 version.
Not having to break in a new quarterback will do wonders for the offense as well, especially early in the year.
And while 11-2 was definitely something to be proud of, it isn’t as if the 2012 team shattered preseason expectations. Bettering that mark this coming season is definitely feasible.
So, perhaps the question isn’t “do the Broncos have the talent to go undefeated?", but rather “should fans expect an undefeated season?”
Of course, the distinction between the two isn’t really necessary. Because the answer to both is a confident “yes.”