Senior quarterback Jared Zabransky will try to improve on the 16 interceptions he threw last season.
New coach, same Broncos
Boise State is considered the favorite to win the WAC again
THIRD IN A SERIES
Dan Hawkins loved his trick plays, loved to keep defenses on the backs of their feet wondering what could possibly be next. That prompted this question of Boise State's new head coach Chris Petersen:
"Fourth and 2 at midfield, what do you do?"
Petersen didn't miss a beat with the perfect answer.
"I don't know," he said, with a sly grin. "Come to the game and find out."
Creative plays run through the ex-college quarterback's head all the time, and even in the middle of July, you know he already had some percolating for this year.
When Petersen was the offensive coordinator, he designed a lot of the plays, including the gadgets. But Hawkins was the one who decided whether to use them.
After a 53-11 record under Hawkins -- and the upgrade in recruiting that goes with it -- the Broncos might not have to resort to trickery as much to win games.
But after last season, it was clear that BSU is still a notch away from the very upper crust of college football.
Boise State's biggest dreams were dashed early in 2005, when the Broncos were bombed 48-13 between the hedges at Georgia. But they still managed to win a fourth consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship.
With 20 returning starters, BSU is favored to capture the WAC title again, despite the departure of Hawkins to Colorado.
The Broncos lost four games last fall. With a softer nonconference schedule and Fresno State and Hawaii forced to visit Boise in 2006, they're talking about winning them all.
"There are no huge dragons to slay. This is the year we might have the chance to go undefeated," linebacker Korey Hall said.
If that is to happen, Hall will likely be a big part of it.
Hall is the WAC's reigning and preseason defensive player of the year after amassing 283 tackles the past three seasons.
Outside linebacker Colt Brooks was a big-play monster with six sacks among his 11 tackles for loss.
Chris Petersen took over Boise State's program this year.
The Broncos' pass defense has been less than stellar numbers-wise, but some of that is because trailing teams are constantly passing.
Boise State returns all four secondary starters, including safety Marty Tadman. He intercepted five passes and was in on 101 tackles.
Safety Gerald Alexander and cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Austin Smith are also very good.
Versatile quarterback Jared Zabransky starred as a sophomore, but forced things too often last year and threw 16 interceptions.
Ian Johnson's talent might mean the Broncos can get away from the tailback-by-committee approach it has used since Brock Forsey's career ended. Johnson averaged 5.6 yards per carry last fall.
Short-yardage specialist Jon Helmandollar returns after a year off. He scored 14 touchdowns in 2004.
Tight end Derek Schouman has been out with a hamstring injury, but is one of the offense's biggest weapons when healthy.
The offensive line returns four starters, but only left guard Tad Miller remains in the same position. Jadon Dailey is the new starter, and he comes in at center.
Wide receivers Jerard Rabb and Drisan James were adequate last season, but they are expected to provide more big plays this time around.
Punter Kyle Stringer is one of the better ones around. He averages 41.5 yards per boot. Anthony Montgomery was the kicker headed into fall camp.
Quinton Jones returned three punts for touchdowns last fall.
Boise State Broncos
2005 record: 9-4
Starters returning: 20
Head coach: Chris Petersen (first year)
Last meeting with UH: Boise State 44, Hawaii 41, Oct. 1, 2005, at Aloha Stadium
* MPC Computers Bowl, Boise, Idaho
||at Oregon State
||San Jose State
||at Utah State
||New Mexico State
||at Fresno State
||at Louisiana Tech
||Boston College *
||at New Mexico State
||at San Jose State