Mountain West Conference: Broncos hope for a new era of success
While many predict all the turmoil and controversy in collegiate athletics marks the beginning of a new era, it appears the Boise State Broncos are ready to blaze a new trail right now.
The Broncos, who went 8-5 in 2013 — suffering more than four losses in a season for the first time since 1998 — seem poised for a fresh start in 2014.
The Broncos have a new coach in Bryan Harsin, who has the difficult task of succeeding Chris Petersen.
Petersen built the Broncos into one of college football’s biggest success stories, going 92-12 during his reign before leaving for Washington this year.
Harsin knows the expectations he faces since he was Petersen’s offensive coordinator before he coached at Texas for two years and at Arkansas State last year.
While last year’s 8-5 record didn’t go over well in Boise, Harsin promises to continue the Boise State ‘brand’ of football.
"There’s an expectation that’s been set," he said.
For many, that brand means winning, and winning big. Since the 2000 season the Broncos have suffered just nine league losses, two of which (San Diego State and Fresno State) came last year.
This year the Broncos are picked to win the league again, thanks in part to the return of Grant Hedrick at quarterback.
The senior is a versatile player who is an accurate passer, but also comfortable running the ball too.
Hedrick’s supporting cast includes senior Matt Miller, who had 88 receptions for 1,140 yards last year and Shane Williams-Rhoades who had 77 receptions for 702 yards.
The run game is boosted by the presence of Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.
What makes the Broncos an easy top pick to win the league title is that the talent isn’t exclusive to the offensive side of the ball. Boise State is also talented on defense.
The defensive line, while young, is deep. The linebackers are a solid group with guys such as Ben Weaver, Tyler Gray and Tanner Vallejo setting the tone.
The secondary, after a spotty effort in 2013, is seasoned and should be more consistent too.
Mountain West preseason poll
1. Boise State 183 (20)
Has talent plus a favorable road schedule
2. Utah State 176 (12
Aggies like their talent and their chemistry
3. CSU 135 (1)
Replacing most of its offensive line from 8-6 team
4. Wyoming 90
Not much depth, but could cause an upset or two
5. New Mexico 56
Can Bob Davie turn Lobos into winners?
6. Air Force
Struggled with key injuries recently
1. Fresno State 174 (15)
Breaking in several new skill players but still strong
2. San Diego St. 172 (15)
Has gone to a bowl four years in a row
3. Nevada 130 (3)
Returns 17 starters, including top running backs
4. UNLV 95
Attrition hit Rebels hard in skill positions
5. San Jose State 87
Nov. will be key with three road games
6. Hawaii 35
Chow still trying to find winning combo