BYU Football Opponent Preview: The Boise State Broncos

BYU takes on BSU in Boise this year. - Brian Losness-US PRESSWIRE

A rivalry has grown between the BYU Cougars and Boise State Broncos over the last few years. This year's match up has some intriguing story lines.

In the next installment of our opponent previews, take a look at the Boise State Broncos.

The Details

  • BYU vs. Boise: Friday, October 24th at Albertson's Stadium in Boise, ID.
  • Boise 2013 Record: 8-5
  • Coach: Bryan Harsin (new head coach from Arkansas State after the departure of Chris Peterson to the University of Washington)
  • TV: ESPN or ESPN2

Boise State didn't have as good of a season as fans are used to in 2013.  Over the last five seasons Boise State lost a combined 5 games and finished as a top 25 team every year. Last year alone the Broncos equaled the previous 5 season loss total by dropping 5 games. Boise State earned a berth to a bowl game, like the Cougars, and lost to Oregon State.

In 2014, the Broncos will introduce a new coach in Bryan Harsin, a former Boise State quarterback who played in the late 90's.  Harsin has made stops as a quarterbacks coach at Texas and a head coach at Arkansas State, where he was the head coach last season and had a record of 7-5.

What We have Learned the last few Years:

BYU and Boise State have games scheduled every year until 2023.  The Cougars and Broncos have faced off 4 times, which is surprising due to the proximity of the two schools.  Going forward this will be a great rivalry.

Boise State has won 3 of the 4 contests and 2 of those wins have only been by 1 point.  Last year BYU won 37-20 in LaVell Edwards stadium and put together one of the more complete games of the season on both sides of the ball.  Boise had 4 turnovers in the game and struggled to get going against the BYU defense.  After one quarter of play, BYU had 203 total yards compared to 37 for Boise and the Cougars led 24-3 at the half.  Boise State got going in the second half, but the hole proved too large to overcome and BYU went on to win.

Defense:

Harsin has recruited a staff of former Boise State players to help him in his first year on the job.  Marcel Yates is the defensive coordinator and brings experience from being at Texas A&M the last few years.  The linebackers and secondary coaches are also former Boise State players.  Harsin looks to be setting the tone with passionate young coaches who are devoted to keeping Boise State football at the top.  There's a lot of excitement often with new coaches, but BYU fans are familiar with the growing pains of fresh blood on the sidelines. It may take a while to implement schemes and get the positions filled by the right players.

There are some good signs with returning players on the defense with one exception.  The defensive line lost 3 of the 4 starters from last year's team.   This could be a huge problem when it comes to putting pressure on the quarterback and keeping runners in check.  BYU ran for over 300 yards last year and may be able to do the same this year.  Things look better for the defense as we look further back.  The top 5 linebackers all return in 2014 and nearly the entire secondary remains as well.  If Boise can develop some defensive lineman in fall camp, they could return to the top 20 defense that they have had in recent years.

Offense:

It isn't much of a surprise that the offense hasn't been quite the same since Kellen Moore took his talents to the NFL.  Moore went undrafted in 2012 but was picked up by the Detroit Lions.  Moore was a great college quarterback and won a lot of games for Boise State.  Grant Hedrick looks to be the starter this year unless he is unseated by an underclassman.  He was actually the only quarterback in spring football who had been with the team a year ago.  Hedrick did a decent job at quarterback in 7 games last year, but he was a little prone to turn the ball over.  He accounted for 1.3 turnovers a game during his time as the starter.

The Broncos will look to utilize Jay Ajayi at running back this year.  The junior has run for over 1,400 yards and is a threat that opposing defenses need to be aware of.  There was a significant drop off in production at running back after Ajayi though and Jack Fields and Derrick Thomas will need to establish themselves as viable threats as well if Boise State wants to return to be one of the elite college football teams.

The line on the offensive side of the ball is a little thin as well.  Boise State loses three multi-year starters.  Marcus Henry leads the way with 13 career starts and then it falls.  The rest of the line only has a combined 13 starts.  This may be an issue early in the season as the line tries to find consistency.  If games are truly won in the trenches, then Boise State will need some players to step up quickly for this to be a successful season.

What to Expect:

I think that BYU will get their first win on Boise State's home turf this season.  BYU brings a lot of experience with a seasoned quarterback and skill players who can make a big impact.  BYU also looks to be a little stronger on the offensive line, which will play a big difference in moving the ball down the field.  Both defenses should be nationally ranked this year and it may be another close game if neither team can get going.  It will come down to whoever can execute on offense and BYU should be able to wear them down physically and come out with a victory.

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