The Boise State football teams seniors have spent their summer coaching prepping the long list of freshmen, sophomores and transfers who will be counted on to contribute this season.
More than a dozen Broncos are expected to make their Boise State debuts Aug. 31 at Michigan State on national TV, in front of 75,000 fans. Many more will be asked to play much larger roles than ever before.
Basically, its all about the young guys right now because they have to play, senior cornerback Jerrell Gavins said. You can say as much as you want to them tell them theyve got to do this and theyve got to do that but when they walk into the stadium with 100,000 people, you dont know what theyre going to think. Youve got to be mentally tough out there. There are times youre going to get hit, youre going to get run over and pushed down. Thats just football.
Those lessons will be cemented the old-fashioned way through the hard-hitting, sweltering tradition of fall camp beginning in two weeks, on Aug. 4.
Most of the outside focus is on the offense, which must replace four-year starting quarterback Kellen Moore, two of the most productive players in school history (tailback Doug Martin and wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker) and All-American left tackle Nate Potter.
But the offense returns five full-time starters, plus two who missed all or most of last season with injuries.
The defense returns just three starters, and none of them played a full season in 2011.
The offense is going to be good. Were still going to do what we do score 50 points a game, said Gavins, who faces the offense three days a week in player-run practices. But we want to be a better defense than last year, so us (seniors), we have to hone in and worry about the young guys.
Gavins has fully recovered from the serious knee injury he sustained in practice after the third game last season, forcing him to redshirt. He and fellow senior Jamar Taylor give the Broncos what should be one of the nations best tandems at the position.
In camp, they will go head to head with the strength of the offense a deep stable of receivers that includes seniors Mitch Burroughs and Chris Potter, juniors Kirby Moore and Geraldo Boldewijn, and sophomores Matt Miller and Dallas Burroughs. Those six combined for 172 catches last year.
The receiver group should help fill the leadership void left by the star-studded group of departed seniors.
Thats something we should do and were willing to do and hopefully going to do, Moore said. Weve had a lot of guys with playing experience. Were just trying to be positive examples for everyone on offense.
Kirby Moore, who played as a true freshman in 2009 and redshirted in 2010 to extend his career, should be a major factor this year with Shoemaker gone. That was the idea behind the redshirt decision Moore gets two seasons in a prime role instead of one.
He had a strong spring and is one of the smartest, most reliable receivers on the team.
That redshirt year is definitely going to be to my benefit, Moore said. Im really just trying to make the most of this year.
That sentiment will be common this year on a team full of players who have been waiting to step into a starting job, to begin their college football careers or to return from extended absences.
This is the point where youve got to actually calm yourself down and think about your every-day workouts, Gavins said.
Said senior linebacker J.C. Percy: Weve all got the mindset that were ready for camp to start. Were all excited for it.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat