The Boise State Broncos will kick off the 2013 season with the program's Blue and Orange spring game on Saturday, April 13, and there are multiple positions up for grabs.
Boise State has been one of the best programs in the nation under head coach Chris Peterson.
Last season was supposed to be one of transition and potential disappointment after Kellen Moore and Doug Martin left for the NFL. Peterson kept his young men focused, however, and the Broncos had another successful season with an 11-2 record and a win at the Las Vegas Bowl over Washington.
With even more stability this season under starting quarterback Joe Southwick, the Broncos are set up for another successful season.
Here's what you need to know about the spring game.
Where: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
When: Saturday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Tickets: Now On Sale
Position Battle To Watch: Kicker
It's rare that a college program's biggest battle is at the kicker position, but that is the case for the Broncos heading into the 2013 season.
Michael Frisina was marginal for the Broncos last season—his one and only season with Boise State—hitting on just 15 of 20 attempts, and the team is looking for more consistency.
Tyler Rausa and Dan Goodale will fight for the right to kick field goals next season in a heated competition this spring and throughout the summer.
Rausa is a JUCO transfer from Riverside (Calif.) City College. Goodale is a returning sophomore who made 60 percent of his attempts last year.
Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman spoke with Rausa, who gave some insight into what coach Peterson is looking for in his kicker in 2013:
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.
Kickers don't receive the fanfare that quarterbacks, pass-rushers and other skill positions receive, but they are a big part of winning teams. This battle will likely be ongoing well into the summer, and it will be interesting to see which young man wins out in the end.
Area In Need of Most Improvement: Passing Attack
As pleasantly surprising as Southwick was last year, the senior quarterback has room for a lot of improvement in 2013.
Southwick only passed for 2,730 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, and the team only scored 30.2 points per game—the worst scoring output at Boise State since 1998, according to Cripe of the Idaho Statesman.
With the losses of Jamar Taylor, Jerrell Gavins and Lee Hightower (who was kicked out of the program) on the defensive side of the ball, scoring points and running an efficient offense will be even more important for the Broncos this season than it was last year.
Southwick must continue to be efficient as a passer while cranking up his production—a task that is easier said than done.
Coach Petersen believes he overwhelmed his offense with too many formations last year, and he's going to streamline his playbook for Southwick and company in 2013, according to Cripe.
This should benefit Southwick, and if he can ramp his game up to another level, the Broncos will be a dangerous team for opposing defenses to face.
What To Expect in 2013
Given Petersen's track record of getting the most out of his players, Broncos fans should expect another big year from their team.
Sophomore running back Jay Ajayi will likely be the team's starting tailback, and his explosive burst will result in more big plays on the ground, which will open up things for Southwick through the air.
Petersen's conscious effort to reduce the volume of the playbook and streamline the offense should result in more decisiveness from his quarterback, which will inevitably result in more points on the scoreboard.
The team's defense will be strong once again—especially up front, where the trio of Demarcus Lawrence, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Samuel Ukwuachu will continue to grow as a group.
Lawrence will look to bounce back from an up-and-down season last year after missing the Las Vegas Bowl due to a suspension—his second of the year. If he can stay out of trouble and on the field, Lawrence has the talent to become one of the nation's top pass-rushers.
An 11- or 12-win season is always the expectation for Petersen's Broncos, and it will be a big disappointment if Boise State were to lose more than one or two games this upcoming season.
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