Spring Football: Boise State could be a BCS buster one last time

joe-southwickFirst Practice: March 11
Spring Game: April 13

Boise State finished 11-2 and defeated Washington 28-26 in the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas and it was considered a down season.

That’s the type of expectation set forth by stalwart coach Chris Petersen, and no matter how annoying the typical Boise fan can be … the Broncos have backed up the swagger.

Ironically enough, Boise’s spring preparations will also focus on Washington again as the Broncos open the 2013 season against the Huskies on Aug. 31.

Stability Factor (1=chaos, 5=rock solid): 4

Petersen’s commitment to Boise football is witnessed each offseason as he turns down opportunities at better-known programs with bigger budgets. The consistency from the Broncos is also amazing and should continue well into the future.

If Boise can win 11 games after graduating some of its best all-time players then you know this team is going to remain a legitimate Top 25 program this fall when it returns players like safety Darian Thompson and receiver Kirby Moore.

Under the Microscope: Jay Ajayi, RB

D.J. Harper was a fixture running the ball and he delivered with 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012. Now Boise is likely turning to the 6-foot, 222-pound Ajayi, who rushed for 548 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Petersen has expressed an interest in improving the running game and having a more balanced attack this fall, so Ajayi will be a big part of that plan. How he performs this spring could dictate where this offense goes in the fall.

If Ajayi isn’t up to the challenge, then Boise may turn to Jack Fields, who saw limited action in 2012.

Locked and Loaded: Joe Southwick, QB

Just a year removed from being in a tight battle to win the job vacated by Kellen Moore, Southwick has solidified his position as the team’s leader at quarterback.

Southwick saved his best for last, as he was a key in the Maaco Bowl win. He threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns on 26-for-38 passing.

His confidence level will be high this spring and going into the fall, so Petersen can relax this spring when it comes to QB competition.

Even with his quarterback in place, Petersen has said he wants to tweak the offense.

Jockeying for Position: Defensive Backs

Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor weren’t really household names, but anyone who followed Boise football knows these two were solid contributors in the defensive backfield.

To counter the loss of these two standouts, Boise went the junior college route and brought in Cleshawn Page and Mercy Maston.

If these two don’t step up and perform, opponents will likely take advantage of this potential weakness.

Name to Know: Tyler Rausa, kicker

The kicking game has failed Boise State miserably in recent years, but most notably in close losses to Nevada and TCU. Each one of those losses kept the Broncos out of BCS contention.

Petersen would like to go into this season with more confidence that his team can make some field goals and extra points. So he went out and signed JUCO kicker Tyler Rausa.

He will still compete with junior Dan Goodale, but he has a history of missing so Rausa could be the answer.

Spring Will Be a Success If …: The defensive line remains healthy.

We haven’t talked much about this talented group, and it’s not an oversight. The D-line is stacked with talented players again so what you don’t want to have happen is lose a few of these guys for any part of the fall because of something that happens in March and April.

Boise is please to have back Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Armand Nance, Robert Ash, Beau Martin and Demarcus Lawrence on the line and Tyler Horn, Kharyee Marshall and Sam Ukwuachu at defensive end.