I've been asking many Boise State players and coaches and several others outside the program what it means when someone talks about the "old" Boise State offense. The beloved offense, which produced a top-2 scoring offense five times from 2001 to 2011, is making a comeback this season with Bryan Harsin at head coach and Mike Sanford as offensive coordinator.
But capturing exactly what the offense means has been difficult because 1.) it means something different to just about everyone and 2.) the coaches says it is constantly evolving and changing.
Here is my column on the return of the old offense, what it means when something you love returns and the (perhaps) the gulf between what fans are expecting and what the Broncos might do.
So I asked fans what they thought the "old" offense meant. Here are some of the responses:
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Writing about Boise State's old/new offense. Question: What does "old" Boise State offense mean to you? Email bmurphy@idahostatesman(.)com— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) August 22, 2014
@murphsturph "The Bronco" - A non-figurative realization that greatness in the NCAA comes from pushing the envelope. NOT from the status quo— Big Chris (@ChrisjHowerton) August 23, 2014
@murphsturph smart, disciplined, creative, efficient and fun. Lots of pre-snap movement and different looks. A nightmare for defenses.— Jeremy Aston (@Aston22Jeremy) August 22, 2014
@murphsturph the old offense had surprise and creativity, and the prince offense ran the same 3 plays— smurf turf (@mr_blueNorange) August 22, 2014
@murphsturph Statue of Liberty, Hook and Ladder and marriage proposals.— Matt L. Stephens (@MattStephens) August 22, 2014
From Stuart Mullins: "I grew up watching all of those teams of Koetter, Hawkins and Petersen and I just have visions of those sunny fall afternoons with those ridiculous horns seemingly getting louder as the game went on with the Broncos just absolutely annihilating whoever was the unfortunate one that day. NO one had an answer for the offense! It was Koetter's brainchild and then "Pete's Poison" was even more effective and exciting. It was a show, that is for sure! Not sure if this will help, but this is what I remember as a fan.
"Of course everyone will say Tight Ends, but really I can still see the likes of Nick Stachelski, Jeb Putzier, Derek Schouman just running free down the middle, having the ball drop in perfectly on time, break one tackle and score. I just remember it being so easy to score 60 points that as fans, we took it for granted. Ryan Dinwiddie would ALWAYS hit someone coming wide open and you could see the plays develop 30-40-50 yards down the field (the crowd would slowly rise to their feet as the receiver was running into the endzone and then BAM-touchdown!) . I remember running the jet-sweep when it wasn't even a thing yet and just baffling defenses. I remember one play where Bart Hendricks would fake the jet-sweep and then pitch opposite to the running back like in an option--an assured 40 yards or TD. David Mikell, Davy Malathong, Eron Hurley, Donny Heck, Brock Forsey, you name it and they were running through massive holes and jumping over the pile for scores. I still can see "Barto" outrunning the entire defense for 70+ yard TD runs seemingly every game. Kellen was beautiful to watch, don't get me wrong, but I would take the Dinwiddie and Hendricks show any day! What a fun time."
From Kris. L Cox: "To me Boise State's old offense meant a fast pace with lots of formation changes to get mismatches and confuse the defense. It meant score early and score often with a no-mercy kind of attitude."
Derek Castle: "I think the first thing that comes to mind when discussing the "old" offense is of course the tight end/full back shifts and wide receiver/ running back motions. The biggest thing to me is why these were done - to create a mismatch from the defense and to allow the QB to make a decision on the play before the ball was snapped. From Koetter to Hawkins to 2012 Petersen it felt like the offense had specific packages depending o the opponent and they were always taking advantage of the other teams weakness. That offense became signature to Boise State and was fun to watch because every game would have it's own wrinkles. Last year's change brought with it the pretty much the same offense that every team in college football was running, and in my opinion made it easier to defend. The stats show that the offense was successful scoring wise, but when we really needed a red zone score or 3rd down conversion there was nothing to throw the defense off. It seems they always knew what was coming. On top of all that- it just wasn't fun to watch. It was like every other college offense. There was not much creativity and it felt like any casual fan could call the next play. It was fun having a Boise State offense and not a college football offense — and I look forward to seeing it again this year and in the future."
Rob Blaylock: "To me the old Boise State offense means a bunch of things, not just one thing. Yes, it means the shifts and motions that everyone talks about, but it is more than that. It includes a power run game with a fullback. TE who were in motion and do more than just block. It was also innovative, they weren't afraid to try new things on offense that no one else in college football was doing. This includes trick plays. Running multiple formations throughout the game. Coming up with big plays down the field in the passing game, instead of just dinking and dunking down the field. Not afraid to go for it on 4th downs and taking chances. And of course great execution."