The Boise State football team wrapped spring ball Monday with its 15th workout.
It was the Broncos' last practice as a team for 112 days - the largest gap in the calendar every year. Fall camp begins Aug. 5, just 26 days before the opener at Washington.
"We've got some great film for these kids to continually study," coach Chris Petersen said. "They know what to do on their own in terms of throwing the ball and catching the ball and covering guys.
The guys that have been around here are going to teach the young guys how to do that. We've got to get better on our own."
Petersen always says it's more challenging to take "the next step" as a veteran, when improvements come in tiny increments instead of major strides. Here are the veterans who excelled during spring practice.
QB Joe Southwick, senior: The second-year starter said he completed 79 percent of his passes in team situations during spring ball. He improved his pocket presence - a key emphasis - and, like late last season, showed more commitment to moving the chains by running. But he's not satisfied. "I've got to have the best summer I've ever had as a Bronco, plain and simple," he said. "Work ethic, leadership - I think those two areas, I've got to be able to come in and be the example and get better."
WR Geraldo Boldewijn, senior: He has made a habit of showing well in spring ball, but he seemed more consistent this year. He capped the spring with a touchdown catch in the Spring Game and will be counted upon for big plays in the fall.
DE Demarcus Lawrence, junior: Lawrence led the Mountain West with 9.5 sacks last season. He should be even better in his second year with the team. "Demarcus Lawrence is a dominant player and he's a challenge for us every single practice," offensive line coach Chris Strausser said.
DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, senior: Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski's style of developing tackles often leads to breakout performances from seniors - whether they're returning starters like Tjong-A-Tjoe or career backups. The Broncos need Tjong-A-Tjoe to set the tone inside.
C Matt Paradis: The All-Mountain West first-teamer brings smarts, determination and leadership to an offensive line itching to produce a more potent rushing attack in 2013.
N Jonathan Brown: Injuries and illnesses have prevented Brown from fulfilling the high expectations coaches carried for him early in his career. He has missed eight games over the past two seasons. He's needed at nickel this year - and he looked ready this spring.
Honorable mention: LT Charles Leno Jr. (senior), LG Spencer Gerke (senior), WR Kirby Moore (senior).
The Broncos will need a host of new and new-ish faces to play key roles this season. Here are the guys who emerged as likely significant contributors.
RB Jay Ajayi, sophomore: Ajayi, who was the No. 2 last year, solidified his status as the Broncos' next lead tailback with a fantastic spring. He rushed 11 times for 69 yards (6.3 yards per carry) in the Spring Game and helped the offense showcase an improved run game throughout the spring. "He's really going to be a nice workhorse for us," Southwick said.
WR Shane Williams-Rhodes, sophomore: The Broncos' most electrifying player developed into a more complete receiver in spring ball. The 5-foot-6, 158-pounder also will be a factor on occasional run plays, as a kickoff returner and as a punt returner. "I see him being a real big part of scoring points," Petersen said.
DT Deuce Mataele, junior: The Mt. San Antonio College transfer impressed coaches and teammates with his quick transition to major college football. He made two tackles for loss in the Spring Game. "He's extremely quick, extremely explosive," Kwiatkowski said.
LB Ben Weaver, redshirt freshman: The 2012 Defensive Scout Player of the Year carried his momentum into spring ball. He'll be in the mix to start at weak-side linebacker, like he did in the Spring Game, in the fall. "He has a really nice feel for playing linebacker," Kwiatkowski said.
CB Chaz Anderson, redshirt freshman: Anderson capitalized on the opportunity to get ahead of the four incoming cornerback recruits with a strong spring. He likely will enter fall camp as the No. 3 corner candidate, behind junior Bryan Douglas (out for spring with a torn ACL) and sophomore Donte Deayon (missed part of spring with a twisted ankle).
RT Rees Odhiambo, sophomore: Odhiambo emerged as the likely starter at right tackle and the backup at left tackle, where he started in the Spring Game because Leno was out. Still, Strausser wants to see improved consistency from Odhiambo. "When he puts it all together, he's a dominant player," Strausser said.
OG Travis Averill, redshirt freshman: The Broncos' three scholarship redshirt freshmen on the offensive line impressed this spring, with Averill making the strongest push. Tackle Steven Baggett was the most improved, Strausser said, and guard Mario Yakoo played well, too.
S Taylor Loffler, sophomore: Loffler could be one of the best stories on the team this year. He tore an ACL in high school and couldn't practice with the Broncos during his first fall here, in 2011. He sustained another torn ACL in his first week of spring practice in 2012. Finally healthy, the 6-foot-3, 212-pound Canadian showed the form that made him one of their most intriguing recruits two years ago. He dislodged a teammate's helmet with one hit this spring. "Once he figures (the scheme) out, he's going to be a force," Kwiatkowski said.
Honorable mention: DE Sam McCaskill (redshirt freshman), S Dillon Lukehart (sophomore), DT Elliot Hoyte (redshirt freshman), DT Armand Nance (sophomore), TE Holden Huff (sophomore), S Chanceller James (redshirt freshman).
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR FALL CAMP, WHICH STARTS AUG. 5
1. Can the new corners compete?
Four cornerbacks - junior Mercy Maston and freshmen Jonathan Moxey, Dionza Blue and Cameron Hartsfield - join the team in fall camp with their sights set on immediate playing time. That opportunity is there because the Broncos only have one corner who got here before August 2012 (junior Bryan Douglas).
2. Tight ends on the mend?
Tight ends play a critical role in the Broncos' offense. Injuries and suspension depleted that crew last year and there are lingering issues this year. Senior Gabe Linehan, a starter when healthy, was limited through the spring as he recovers from last year's hamstring injury. Junior Kyle Sosnowski was held back, too, but he made a nice catch in the Spring Game. If they're back, the Broncos could be loaded at the position.
3. Goodale or Rausa?
The Broncos will enter fall camp without a starting kicker for the third straight year. Junior Dan Goodale and sophomore transfer Tyler Rausa looked good in the Spring Game, but past experience shows all that matters is game day.
4. Enough depth?
The Broncos' likely starting lineups are impressive. The depth, though, is full of question marks - particularly at cornerback, linebacker and offensive line.
5. Who's the backup QB?
None of the three backup quarterbacks - junior Grant Hedrick, sophomore Jimmy Laughrea and redshirt freshman Nick Patti - emerged in spring ball. Hedrick was the backup last year, which puts him in the favorite's role.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat