LAS VEGAS The most decorated group on the Boise State roster this season was the offensive line, which produced three All-Mountain West players.
It was rare acclaim for a line that got off to a rough start but finished the season playing at a high level.
Im really proud of those guys, quarterback Joe Southwick said. We gave up under double-digit sacks that was our goal. Thats just a testament to them setting a good pocket. It all starts with them and they definitely dont get the credit they deserve.
Junior center Matt Paradis made the All-Mountain West first team in his first season as a starter, junior left tackle Charles Leno Jr. made the second team in his second season as a starter and senior right tackle Brenel Myers made the second team in his first full season as a starter.
They led a group that has allowed nine sacks with a new starting quarterback and produced 4.7 yards per carry. By comparison, the Broncos allowed eight sacks and rushed for 4.5 yards per carry in 2011.
I feel like the last month we played was the best for the offensive line and offense, Leno said.
The linemen said they were proud to help senior tailback D.J. Harper rush for 1,065 yards his first 1,000-yard season. We started out really shaky, Harper said. Throughout this whole entire season, the run game has definitely improved. Im really impressed with those guys.
Offensive line coach Chris Strausser, a tough grader of his group, called the line play decent but said he wont truly evaluate them until the season ends.
Ive been really pleased with the effort the entire season, he said. Theyve done a nice job just not flinching regardless of what the situation is.
Paradis has been the top player in the group since fall camp. His consistency, smarts and humility endeared him to coaches and teammates.
Hes an extremely hard worker, Strausser said. Hes one of those guys who takes care of business in everything he does, whether its in the classroom or the community or football. His focus all year long has been tremendous.
Myers was a pleasant surprise. He was considered a future star after his successful spot start in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl against TCU, but injuries derailed him the past two seasons. He started two games in 2010 and none in 2011 before undergoing hip surgery this past offseason.
(Injuries) are what have held him back, coach Chris Petersen said. Its been one thing after another. We didnt really know how that (hip) was going to turn out with him.
On top of the injuries, Myers has been haunted by high expectations throughout his career.
Because of that (Fiesta Bowl), everybody expected so much from me, he said. I was still learning. I was just a redshirt freshman at the time. I just happened to play really well that game.
As you know, the past two years havent been that great for me especially last year. Just being (MW) second team means a lot to me.
NO BREAKTHROUGHS AT WIDE RECEIVER
Sophomore Matt Miller, a returning starter, leads the team with 60 catches. Junior Kirby Moore, a longtime contributor, is second with 36. And senior Chris Potter has taken a step up this year, with 25.
But junior Aaron Burks (16 catches), junior Geraldo Boldewijn (13) and sophomore Dallas Burroughs (four) have not been able to find a consistent niche.
Those also are the guys who are most likely to produce explosive plays. The Broncos yards per catch are down this season to 11.0. That number was 14.2 in 2010, when Titus Young and Austin Pettis headlined the receiver crew.
Petersen said he isnt sure the ball is being thrown to those receivers enough to judge their production.
I know Aarons made some really explosive, big plays that have been key for us, he said. Geraldo, youd like to see the ball go his way a little more. Same with Dallas Burroughs. Theyd probably say, Hey, throw the ball our way a little more. Theyll take another step here shortly (in spring ball).
BROKEN THUMBFOR MOORE
Moore broke a thumb in the Wyoming game Oct. 27. He was unable to block in the final four regular-season games, he said, but removed his cast during bowl prep.
I still cant open a jar, he said.
Moore made 11 catches with the injury. He didnt have any in the regular-season finale against Nevada.
Petersen raved earlier this week about the way Moore caught the ball with the cast. Moore cut out a portion of it to free up his palm. I was so worried about dropping a pass I was actually able to catch everything, he said.
PREP GETS SERIOUS
Boise State held its first practice in cold, windy Las Vegas on Wednesday. The Broncos began their game-week preparations with a practice Tuesday morning in Boise.
After having so much time off, were kind of ready to play again, Miller said. Practices are really competitive. You want to get that game situation. I think everyone is pretty eager to get playing Saturday.
BRONCOS SIGNTHREE TRANSFERS
Boise State announced Wednesday the signing of three junior college players cornerback Cleshawn Page (Harbor College, Los Angeles), kicker Tyler Rausa (Riverside City College, Temecula, Calif.) and running back Derrick Thomas (Butler Community College, Dothan, Ala.).
All three will join the program in January. Rausa will be a sophomore; the other two are juniors.
Two players who said that they committed to the Broncos did not sign but could at a later date defensive lineman Justin Taimatuia (Fort Scott Community College) and cornerback Mercy Maston (Bakersfield College).
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398