The case for
In September and October quarterback Joe Southwick, now a 6'1", 202-pound senior, says he was tentative, inaccurate and often held the ball too long. But in November, he says, "something just clicked," and Southwick became one of the most productive quarterbacks in the nation. Over the last four games he completed 76.7% of his passes for 888 yards, with nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Broncos coach Chris Petersen, who has only seven total starters back—the fewest of his eight-year tenure in Boise—believes the 2012 late-season incarnation of Southwick will be on display in '13. To help, Southwick will have his top two receivers back, 6" 3", 218-pound junior Matt Miller (769 yards, 5 TDs) and 6'3", 206-pound senior Kirby Moore (368 yards, 1 TD) as well as 6'5", 221-pound sophomore tight end Holden Huff (250 yards, 4 TDs).
The case against
Boise could struggle to defend the pass. The team's weakest position is cornerback, where sophomore Donte Deayon and junior Bryan Douglas are slated to start. The Broncos only lost twice last year and by a total of six points. More close games this season will require those corners to make big plays or an unproven pass rush to step up.
You've won 61 games in the last five years. How have you maintained a high level of success?
It's not any one thing. It's really as simple as having good coaches, recruiting the right players and having those players buy into our system. Older guys have always done a good job of teaching the younger players.
What are your expectations for this team?
This is an interesting team. Since I've been here, this is the fewest returning starters [four on offense, three on defense] we've had. So we're young. This is also probably the hardest schedule we've had.
What's the strength of your team?
We hope it will be the offense. We've got experience on the line, experience at quarterback and experienced wide receivers. I think we can pick up where we ended off last year.
Are you happy to stay in the Mountain West?
I am. Geographically, it makes complete sense for us. Leagues keep changing, but we're in a good place. Our fans can drive to away games. And our league is much better than people think.
Player to Watch
A quarterback and linebacker,Joe Martaranoled Fruitland (Idaho) High to four 3A state title games, played on two state championship basketball teams and was chosen in the 2013 MLB draft. At Boise the 6'3" 228-pounder will see action at linebacker.
TROY BABBITT/US PRESSWIRE
TROY BABBITT/US PRESSWIRE
Projected 2013 Stats
QB Joe Southwick
Pass: 2,680 yards, 22 TDs
Run: 90 yards, 1 TD
RB Jay Ajayi
Run: 1,250 yards, 16 TDs
Rec.: 100 yards, 0 TDs
WR Matt Miller
Rec.: 790 yards, 8 TDs
Run: 25 yards, 0 TDs
The season begins with a bang: an Aug. 31 opener at Washington, one of the noisiest stadiums in the country. After that road test the Broncos face more tough travel: at Fresno State (on Sept. 20), BYU (Oct. 25) and San Diego State (Nov. 23). Fortunately two of the final three (Wyoming and New Mexico) are home.
SI Power Ratings
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