It was apparent to anyone watching last season that Archie Lewis had his fair share of struggles. Against top-notch defensive ends like BYU’s Bronson Kaufusi, Lewis at times looked a bit overmatched.
A starter the first two games of 2015 as a sophomore, Lewis was moved into a backup role following the BYU loss for the next five games, but started the final six after injuries forced the line to shuffle.
“When you have to make that decision, it’s tough on everyone,” offensive line coach Scott Huff said in fall camp. “You don’t want them to lose confidence, and it obviously was hard on Archie, but to his credit, he kept going and was there when we needed him.”
As a junior, Lewis has started all 11 games this season, protecting quarterback Brett Rypien’s blindside and allowing junior running back Jeremy McNichols to put up an incredible year. The 15 sacks the offensive line has allowed is well on pace to better the 31 allowed last year. The group was selected as one of 18 semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award on Tuesday, given to the top offensive line group in college football.
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“It’s been pretty good, been doing good on the line, run game’s going good,” Lewis said.
Although not a perfect measurement, Pro Football Focus has Lewis ranked the No. 30 left tackle through the first 11 weeks, and the Broncos’ line No. 10. At 6-foot-3, 300 pounds and healthy after missing spring practices, he’s about 10 pounds heavier than last season and feeling more confident.
“It was stuff I knew I had to learn from, it’s what I put my whole focus on this offseason,” Lewis said. “... at some points (it was tough). It was a learning experience, learned to put on more weight, gotta get stronger.
“I can feel the improvement from last year to this year, most definitely.”
He battled Auburn graduate transfer Will Adams to start during fall camp, and won the job with his improved play. Adams still plays a few series a game, and Lewis said “it helped me push myself to another level.” Boise State graduates Adams and three starters, which will make Lewis the most experienced senior next year. Through his experiences, he no doubt will be the sort of leader the current group has been.
“I’m excited for it, I haven’t really thought about it much, Mario (Yakoo)’s been kind of bugging me about it,” Lewis said. “... I’ll be able to handle it.”
REMINDER: The College Football Playoff rankings will be announced at 5 p.m. MT Tuesday on ESPN. Boise State was No. 20 last week, one spot ahead of Western Michigan as the top Group of Five conference team.