Each day, I’ll post a blog with all the nuts-and-bolts information about a position and many of the quotes I’ve collected. The next morning, we’ll run a feature story on the position in the newspaper.
Today: Tight ends
Here is the newspaper story.
TIGHT ENDS ROSTER
89 Connor Peters, 6-4, 251, Sr.
84 Jake Hardee, 6-3, 238, R-Jr.
85 Holden Huff, 6-6, 222, R-Jr.
93 Brennyn Dunn, 6-3, 215, R-So.
87 Alec Dhaenens, 6-3, 239, R-Fr.
88 Jake Roh, 6-3, 228, R-Fr.
86 Chase Blakley, 6-4, 234, Fr.
91 David Lucero, 6-5, 213, Fr.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Jake Roh, 6-3, 228, R-Fr.: One of the top recruits in the Broncos’ 2013 class put together strong showings in spring ball and fall camp. He looks like the starter.
Holden Huff, 6-6, 222, R-Jr.: Seemed like a future star with a big finish to the 2012 season, when he scored four touchdowns, but he was barely a factor last year with six catches. The new playbook has made him a key part of the offense again. He is suspended for the opener, though.
Connor Peters, 6-4, 251, Sr.: Led the tight ends last season with seven catches for 58 yards. He’s the biggest tight end, too, so he should have a significant blocking role.
OR Jake Hardee, 6-3, 238, R-Jr.: Hard-working former walk-on from Bishop Kelly received a scholarship earlier this month. He averaged 14.6 yards per catch last season.
OR Alec Dhaenens, 6-3, 239, R-Fr.: Fruitland High product missed spring ball with a shoulder injury. He has the tools to become the “complete package,” tight ends coach Eliah Drinkwtiz said. Dhaenens’ role could grow as he gains experience.
Overview: The Boise State tight ends made 60 catches in 2011, continuing a long-standing tradition of involvement for that position. The last two years — without quarterback Kellen Moore and with offensive coordinator Robert Prince — the tight ends disappeared. They made 24 catches in 2012 and a woeful 20 catches for 201 yards and no touchdowns in 2013. The new coaching staff — one that features three former tight ends coach (head coach Bryan Harsin, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford and offensive line coach Scott Huff) in addition to the actual tight ends coach (Drinkwitz) — promises a return to the old ways. And they’ve got plenty of talent at their disposal, with redshirt freshmen Roh and Dhaenens joining the rotation. “We have a little chip on our shoulder about (last year’s production),” Hardee said. “We’re trying to come out and prove and show that we can be big assets in the offense. I think the coaches realize that and I think that we’re going to have a pretty good year.”
Key to success: Tight ends carry a heavy mental load in the Broncos’ offense. They are the key to the shift-and-motion package, they’re instrumental in the run game and they need to perfect their pass routes. That’s a lot to ask from a group that doesn’t have a lot of experience with this system. The tight ends will need to show the coaches they can be trusted. “If you look at some of those groups in the past, we had good players, obviously, but they were some of the best prepared players we had,” Harsin said. Added Drinkwitz: “They’ve had some playing time, but they haven’t necessarily been counted on like we’re asking them to be counted on right now.”
Reason for concern: The Broncos are possibly one injury away from needing to use one of their highly touted true freshmen, Chase Blakley or David Lucero. Those two were given some first-team snaps during fall camp but this is a difficult position for newcomers because of the physical and mental demands.
Star player: Roh and Huff seem poised for big years. Huff made 17 catches for 250 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 and ended the season with a big performance against Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. “He was having a really, really good fall camp before his little (injury) setback,” Drinkwitz said.
Breakout performer: Roh might be the Broncos’ only freshman starter this season. He has wide receiver skills and has added 20 pounds since he arrived. “I really like Jake Roh, just his versatility,” Sanford said in the spring.
Newcomer to watch: The Broncos have four freshman tight ends who coaches expect to create a new tradition of excellence at that position. Roh and Dhaenens will play this year. Blakley and Lucero seem likely to redshirt, but could be needed. By next year, look out. “That group is going to be one to be reckoned with,” Sanford said.
— Drinkwitz expects to focus the playing time on four guys.
— Drinkwitz on Roh: “Jake’s had a really good camp. He’s worked hard. You can tell he studied this summer. He’s a little bit undersized, but he’s finally started playing with extreme effort and playing with great technique.”
— Drinkwitz on his points of emphasis: “No. 1, play with desperate effort. And then No. 2 is no MAs — we can’t have missed assignments at our position.”
— Drinkwitz boils down the tight end position to matchups. “Who’s the best matchup issue and what are their strengths?” he said.
— Drinkwitz on Dhaenens: “I really like his progress. He’s really had a great camp. I’ve been impressed. He’s got his butt whipped and he’s gotten back up there and he’s won some and he’s gotten back up there. That’s part of growing and that’s part of becoming a football player. Sometimes you get beat and how you react and how you come back really determines if you’re going to be a guy for us. He’s worked extremely hard. He’s been very attentive to detail in the meeting room. By no means is he perfect, but I appreciate what he tried to do this summer. He’s really got a chance to be the complete package.”
— Drinkwitz on Blakley and Lucero: “Chase has done a great job of buying into what we’re asking him to do and practicing hard. He’s had some really nice catches. He’s swimming a little bit in the playbook, but he’s going to be a really good football player — and on the same token I think David Lucero is going to be a really good football player at Boise State. Those guys are freshmen, so we’re trying to catch them up as fast as we can. We’re very excited about those two guys. They’re swimming, but we’re trying to put their talents on display for everybody.”
— Drinkwitz on whether his position breaks into tight ends, fullbacks, H-backs, etc.: “I don’t have four of them listed as Y and four of them listed as H. I’ve just got them listed as butt-kickers and let them go from there.”
— Roh on the group: “We’re making lots of improvements, improving ourselves as a group and saying that we can be a part of this offense again and getting that trust back from the coaching staff.”
— Roh on the offense: “It’s really exciting, to have more tight ends out there and come back to some of the old-school stuff that they did back in the day when Kellen was here. It’s fun.”
— Roh said the tight ends are handling the playbook better this fall than in the spring. He credits Drinkwitz’s coaching style. “The playbook just isn’t as difficult,” he said. “It’s the same stuff, but it’s just not as difficult as it was in the spring.”
— Roh: “We want to step up and the playbook calls for that, too.”
— Dhaenens, on his return from shoulder surgery for fall camp: “I knew it was going to be rough, especially coming from my injury. I knew it was going to be a challenge. I’ve been able to do really well. I get beat some times. I beat them. It’s back and forth.”
— Dhaenens on the group: “We should make a big difference this year. That’s one thing we need to do as an offense is get the tight ends more involved and that’s what we feel like we’ll be able to do.”
— Dhaenens on Roh: “Jake’s been doing awesome. We always coach each other up. He’s got great routes. He helps me out with the routes. I help him out with blocking. We just go back and forth.”
— Harsin on the group: “Those guys are catching on to that kind of mentality that room has to have and it’s very unique — there’s a uniqueness to that position on our team and I think they’re starting to catch onto that. But as far as the variety we’re able to utilize them in, it’s better. I mean, they’re not dropping out of helicopters and popping out of holes on the field and things like that right now, so let’s just get that straight. They’re still playing that position. But you know what, if we want to do that, we’re working toward getting some of those types of things in there. But they’ve still got to go out there and perform it.”
— Linebacker Joe Martarano will be used some at fullback. He got into the offensive huddle for a goal-line play in the fall scrimmage.
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