The Boise State football teams new fast-paced offensive attack came with a new practice strategy, too.
Coach Chris Petersen and his staff consulted other programs most notably, Oregon in the offseason to figure out the best way to prepare players for game days.
The Broncos averaged 67.1 offensive plays and 135.4 total plays from scrimmage per game last season; they average 84.2 and 159 this season.
The Tuesday and Wednesday practices are similar to years past, but Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are treated much differently.
I think our guys feel like theyre fresh and ready to play, Petersen said.
The Broncos scrapped their practice the day after games in favor of a Monday practice that combines corrections from the game with the beginning of the next weeks game plan. They wear helmets and shoulder pads on Mondays; in previous years, the Sunday practice was without pads or helmets. They take Sundays off instead of Mondays.
The Tuesday and Wednesday practices are the physically demanding, game-plan workouts. They usually include full pads but coaches are beginning to cut back to helmets and shoulder pads.
By Wednesday, almost all of our hard work is done physically, Petersen said.
The biggest changes are on Thursdays and Fridays.
The Thursday practice used to be a fast-paced workout where the team practiced most of its plays.
We ran a lot, Petersen said.
They almost do no running, Petersen said.
Instead, the emphasis is on mental preparation and physical recovery. The players go through an extensive stretching session after practice. During practice, they move into the right positions on their plays but dont run. Sometimes, the quarterbacks dont even throw.
Its been different for us to get used to, Petersen said. Thursdays a recovery day.
On Fridays, the Broncos practice enough to get sweaty. They run through plays instead of the usual walkthrough.
If youre not completely sound from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then Thursday gives you a chance to put those finishing touches on and know where you fit and exactly what your assignment is, junior defensive end Beau Martin said. My body feels great on Saturday. With what we do on Friday to activate our body, I feel on Saturday I can play fast and I feel explosive.
Much of the schedule, Petersen said, came from our buddies at Oregon. Petersen is a former Ducks assistant and still has friends there. The Ducks popularized the up-tempo offense.
We researched the heck out of it, Petersen said. We asked a bazillion questions. Sometimes you just need to do something different to create new energy.
The Broncos have not been able to scrimmage their redshirts as much this year because of a lack of depth. The scout teams already are thin.
Weve played a lot of young guys that are normally on our scout teams, Petersen said.
Long snapper Kevin Keane just got younger. He received a medical redshirt for his injury-shortened freshman season at Division III Ohio Wesleyan, which makes him a true sophomore instead of a junior.
It gives me an extra year to play, which is awesome, he said. I can be out on the field longer and finish up school.
Keane has traveled an unusual college path and found two advantageous NCAA rules with help from his mom. He convinced Ohio Wesleyan to give him a chance as a 6-foot, 175-pound long snapper out of Southern California after the school recruited one of his friends.
As he got bigger, he realized he could snap at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. His high school coach helped connect him with Boise State.
I wanted to get the bigger-school feel, Keane said. Its always been my dream to play Division I football.
He only played three games at Ohio Wesleyan in 2011 because of a broken wrist. He was injured when he tripped and fell while running to practice.
One of those clumsy moments, he said.
He joined the Broncos in 2012 and expected to sit a year like most transfers. But his mom spotted a rare exception. Players who dont receive scholarship money and werent recruited by their original schools can transfer one time without missing a year.
Keane was skeptical.
She called and talked to compliance without me knowing, he said.
That allowed Keane to play in four games last season, including the season opener at Michigan State and the bowl game against Washington.
He became the starter this year and benefited from his moms keen eye again. She informed him that because he only played three games as a freshman, he could get a medical redshirt.
This time, Keane believed her and told Petersen.
I got a text last week that Im a sophomore, Keane said.
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award cut its watch list from 30 to 15 quarterbacks this week. Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick made the list. Others of note include Fresno States Derek Carr, Nevadas Cody Fajardo, Arizona States Taylor Kelly (Eagle High) and Washingtons Keith Price.
The award goes to the top quarterback who is a senior, or a fourth-year junior on track to graduate with his class.
Southwick is fourth in the nation in completion percentage (72.3), ninth in completions per game (24.8) and 31st in pass efficiency (149.9).
Nevada coach Brian Polian on recruiting against Boise State: If a young man is going to get a Pac-12 offer, hes going to look at Oregon and USC and thats the one hes hoping to get. Guys who get Mountain West offers, often (Boise State) is the one that theyre looking for.
Cleveland.com compiled a chart of college football success since 2002. Idahos two FBS teams are at opposite ends.
Boise State has the most wins at 133 (and 17 losses). Ohio State, if you include vacated wins, and Oklahoma are second at 123. Boise State also has the best winning percentage at .887.
Idaho (35-105) has the most losses. The Vandals winning percentage of .250 is second-worst, ahead of Eastern Michigan (33-103).
The website also put together a Top 25 poll using the season-ending rankings since 2002 and the current rankings this year. Boise State came in at No. 9.
Chadd Cripe is in his 12th year as the Idaho Statesman beat writer for Boise State football. He also is a voter for The Associated Press Top 25. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at @IDS_BroncoBeat and read his blog at blogs.idahostatesman.com/broncobeat.