Chris Petersen has won at least 10 football games in each of his six seasons as a head coach at Boise State. He expects nothing less this year, despite a transition year during which the Broncos must replace nearly all of their star power.
The goal, as always: Win the conference championship, which we couldnt get done last year with a really good team, Petersen said.
Our kids are very motivated for a lot of different reasons, he said. One, that we didnt get it done last year. Two, that theres a lot to prove with all the guys who left us. Those kids have a lot of pride. I know theyll work their tails off and fight hard.
That effort has been ongoing for months but it took on renewed urgency Saturday, the first day of fall camp. The opener is Aug. 31 at Michigan State.
Last month in Las Vegas, Petersen sat down for about an hour with print reporters to discuss the challenge he faces this year, the quarterback derby, his kickers and the move to the Big East. Here are highlights from that conversation:
ON REBUILDING A TEAM THAT LOST MOST OF ITS STARTERS
Competition is what its all about. If theres one theme that possibly runs through our program, that would be the one that I get most excited about. So I hope we have a lot of competition at all groups. When you have someone breathing on you and challenging you every day, thats good. Thats healthy, and we like that. Thats one of the reasons that we are excited about this, because I think there are a lot of unknowns, but there a lot of guys that are hungry and ready to go hard.
There are so many guys who are going to play. Were going to need everybody. Everybody wants to talk about, Whats a name (we) havent heard? Theres going to be a lot of those guys, and I dont know who they are. Well just wait to see who steps up.
Reasons for optimism: Weve got some good players. Theyre inexperienced. Theyre pretty focused. Also, I think that weve got some seniors that might not have some notoriety that the old seniors had, but they know (the systems). Theyve been around. They know how it goes. So were really counting on those guys to take the next step themselves and bring some of these young guys along.
Cause for concern: Weve just got a lot of new guys that are unproven. Theyre going to work hard and all that, but theyre going to have to go out and do it in the game. Thatll be fun. As long as we go back to the base fundamentals of this program, of giving your best effort and improving and just focusing on those two things, and forget about the rest of it, well be OK.
ON THE SENIOR CLASS
What Im really excited about is to see them take the next step not to play the same as they did in the past, and they played very well, but to have that excellent senior year where its like, They got better. And we say this many times, for these guys to get better, thats something. We know the young guys are going to get better. We need these guys to take the next step. And when that happens, then were doing what we need to do.
ON THE QUARTERBACK RACE
You want to get it right, and as right as you can. And the guy who deserves the opportunity to go with it. I dont think about it in terms of time. I think about it in terms of when we know and when its right and thats just kind of been our approach.
Weve been lucky and the kids have produced when we put them in there. But that doesnt mean we always will be that fortunate. You hope you dont get yourself in a situation where youve got to change guys and all that stuff, so thats why you dont want to rush the decision. If youve got time, lets play it out.
On the potential for a QB rotation: I dont think wed do that. I dont know. I hadnt thought about that.
On whether past QB choices were obvious: No. I remember even back to (Jared) Zabransky (in 2004). No, we werent 100 percent sure. He hadnt played in games that mattered. Certainly with Kellen (Moore, in 2008), we were like, I dont know. He looks pretty good in practice. So did Bush (Hamdan). It hasnt really ever been clear cut.
ON THE KICKER JOB
Well just see how it goes. Theyre no different than our left tackle, than our nose guard. Were expecting those guys to improve. And if they can, then were good. Were headed in the right direction. And theyve been putting a lot of time in to do that.
Im not really losing maybe I should be a lot of sleep over that because I think were going to get an accurate gauge of where we feel comfortable and wherever that is well kick field goals from there. And if its very close, its very close, and well go for it from (beyond) there.
ON THE MOVE TO THE BIG EAST IN 2013
I think its good. I have total confidence that its the best thing for our university to move forward. Thats really as far as Ive thought about it.
Its a really hard decision. Thats why it went down to the wire. I was good either way.
On whether the Broncos are chasing a moving target, with each new conference getting weakened as they arrive: I havent thought about it like that but I can see what youre saying. Theres just been so much movement, so much chaos, in college football. Thats what makes some of these decisions so hard to know. But I think everything has been thought out a gazillion times and you really cant predict the future, but youre just trying to make educated guesses to hey, I think this is whats going to be best for all of us.
ON THE NEXT UPGRADE FOR THE BOISE STATE FOOTBALL PROGRAM
Ive always liked that, appreciated that about Boise, that were always progressing and doing what we need to do. The next thing for us always is weve got to take care of business. We have to continue to reload our program. Whats going to happen now is the budget is going to be a problem. Theres always something. You go into this new conference and now the budget is an issue, so were going to have to do some things there to keep up with the people in that conference. I dont have exact figures in front of me, but I know that conference has a lot more money than where weve been.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat