In a little more than three seasons, Boise State coach Dan Hawkins has built an offense that is nearly as gaudy as the neon-blue turf on its home field. The 23rd-ranked Broncos (4--0) have gone 37--6 since Hawkins took over in 2001 and have led the nation in scoring offense in each of the last two seasons. Last Friday's 28--27 victory over Brigham Young was Boise's Division I-A--best 15th straight, though it was uncharacteristically close. The Broncos had won their previous 14 games by an average of more than 27.2 points, and they entered the game as the country's top scoring offense. (They are now third, averaging 48.3 points.) "I enjoyed the chess match," says the 43-year-old Hawkins. "When you're ahead by 30, anybody can coach."
Though the numbers might lead one to believe that Boise State does nothing but pass, Hawkins's multiple scheme is surprisingly balanced. The Broncos are averaging 191 yards on the ground this year and 316.5 through the air. What makes Hawkins's system difficult for opposing defenses are all the formations, shifts and substitutions. One unique wrinkle is the Fly Sweep, on which a receiver or back in motion takes a handoff with a running start and heads upfield. "We're not big enough to just line up against most teams," says Hawkins. "We have to scheme a little bit."
Hawkins's schemes have enabled him to seamlessly replace eight offensive starters this season, including quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie, whose career passer rating of 168.9 is the best in NCAA history. Sophomore Jared Zabransky has filled in admirably, throwing for 1,153 yards and seven TDs.
Because of Hawkins's success, his name now comes up whenever a job at a BCS conference school opens. It surfaced briefly last year at Arizona, and in 2002 at Baylor, Oregon State and Texas A&M. "It's an honor and it's flattering," says Hawkins. "But I could definitely be here for 20 years. Bigger isn't necessarily better to me. Better is better."
PETER READ MILLER (ZABRANSKY, EDWARDS)
Under new QB Zabransky, the Broncos have continued to pile up the points.