The Boise State football team doesnt have a speedster among its three starting wide receivers going into this season.
What the Broncos do have is a smarter, more experienced crew than last year and that might enable those guys to play faster and find more openings.
The Broncos starters averaged less than 12 yards per catch last season. Only one of them gained more than 30 yards on a reception.
Obviously last year we could all admit that we left some out there on the field, junior slot receiver Kirby Moore said.
Many of the Broncos biggest pass plays last season involved slot receiver Tyler Shoemaker, who led the team with 16.0 yards per catch and set a school record with 16 touchdown catches.
Shoemaker graduated leaving a huge void for Moore and senior Chris Potter to fill. Other receivers and the tight ends could get involved in the slot, too.
Obviously Tyler Shoemaker had one of the greatest seasons in Boise State history as a wide receiver, offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Robert Prince said. We understand that the next guy has to step up. Were definitely expecting a lot out of Kirby but also we have Chris Potter, whos going to be playing in the slot. Not only those two guys, we have other guys youll get a chance to see this first game and well go from there.
The Broncos top returning receiver is sophomore Matt Miller, who tied Shoemaker for the team lead with 62 catches last year. He also caught nine touchdown passes.
Miller, who was injured for much of the 2011 offseason, benefited from his first offseason of full training this year and should be more capable of busting big plays.
I was a pretty slow guy last year, he said. Anything can beat that.
Senior Mitch Burroughs was third last year with 49 catches. He has shown playmaking ability as a punt returner but had a long catch of 29 yards and only caught one TD pass.
He also could be more of a factor down the field this year.
Maybe the average person might look at (Miller and Burroughs) and not see them as a deep threat, but I wouldnt count those guys out, Prince said.
But the teams best candidates to stretch defenses are the biggest question marks at the receiver position.
Sophomore Dallas Burroughs averaged 19.4 yards on his nine catches as a true freshman. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds in spring testing this year. That tied for the fastest time on the team.
However, Burroughs didnt play to his potential in fall camp.
Ive done all right, but not as good as I planned, he said. Ive just had a couple drops. Other than that, I feel like Ive worked on my releases and gotten that a ton better since spring.
Junior Geraldo Boldewijn also has terrific speed and averaged 14.0 yards per catch last year. Hes suspended for the first four games for a violation of NCAA rules.
Junior Aaron Burks ran the 40 in 4.36 seconds in the spring. He showed improvement in fall camp but is unproven.
And true freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes possesses the quickness to turn even a short throw into a long gain he took a hitch 42 yards in last weeks scrimmage before flipping into the end zone, which nullified the touchdown but coaches havent said yet whether hell play.
Hes a guy obviously that were looking real hard at, coach Chris Petersen said. He showed up (in the scrimmage). That quickness is impressive. But well see how he fits in the whole package.
The decision with Williams-Rhodes could hinge on whether coaches believe they need another explosive playmaker the same reason they used Dallas Burroughs last year.
We did need that top-end speed, Prince said.
That might be less of an issue this year if guys like Miller, Mitch Burroughs and Moore can get deep with some consistency.
Well make some big plays in there, Petersen said. Those guys have some talent. Theyre a year older, a year more experienced. That crew has to take a step and help out whoever our quarterback is, but they will.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398,
Projected depth chart, wide receivers
Matt Miller (6-3, 215, so.): Miller was so reliably productive as a freshman that its easy to forget he was just starting his career. He should be much improved as a sophomore.
Aaron Burks (6-3, 200, jr.) OR Geraldo Boldewijn (6-4, 214, jr.): Burks is one of the teams fastest players and could become a rotation staple for the first time. Boldewijn will be a factor after serving his four-game suspension. Dallas Burroughs (5-8, 178, so.) also can contribute here.
Mitch Burroughs (5-9, 193, sr.): The Meridian High grad followed up his breakout season with a strong fall camp. Hes productive in the run game and return game, too.
Troy Ware (6-2, 195, fr.) OR Shane Williams-Rhodes (5-6, 154, fr.): Wares strong fall camp gives him a chance to contribute this year. Williams-Rhodes, a true freshman, will be difficult to redshirt because of his unique playmaking ability.
Kirby Moore (6-3, 203, jr.) OR Chris Potter (5-9, 159, sr.): Moore fits coach Chris Petersens idea of a slot receiver better because of his size and has been more productive, but Potter will get chances, too, because of his consistent play in practice. Potter also plays at the outside receiver positions.