Boise State’s offense averaged 41.6 points per game in the 10 games in which quarterback Brett Rypien started last season. Rypien returns, and he brings with him a record-breaking receiver, one of the nation’s best all-around running backs and a line loaded with experience.
Dare to say, the Broncos could be equally or even more potent this year.
“The potential’s very high,” junior tight end Jake Roh said.
Said co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Zak Hill: “We’ve got a lot of weapons. It’s fun to have all those guys; it makes it tough on a defensive coordinator. ... It’s a good problem to have.”
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Boise State still feels it can iron out some flaws. The Broncos lost 15 turnovers in their losses, and just seven in their wins.
“We were still a little inconsistent last year,” Rypien said. “It comes with a focus every day, and you can tell the guys want to be perfect, make it hard in practice, so when we get out there, it’s just muscle memory.”
Though senior receivers Thomas Sperbeck (88 catches and 1,412 yards) and Chaz Anderson (42-578) return, the Broncos have no other player with more than 10 career catches. Junior Cedrick Wilson emerged as a starter to join them but has yet to play at this level after transferring from junior college.
At running back, junior Jeremy McNichols (1,886 all-purpose yards, 26 TDs) will shoulder the load. Behind him, senior Devan Demas did not have a carry in the final six games last season after fumbling issues, and no other back has rushed for more than 200 yards in a season. At tight end, after Roh’s 68 career receptions, only junior Alec Dhaenens (four) has any.
“You would hope we can get that ball (around) like we had before. ... How we’ve progressed from last season to where we are now, we should be able to do it,” coach Bryan Harsin said.
Offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz left for the same post at North Carolina State, prompting Boise State to seek a new OC for the fifth time in six years. The solution was partially found in-house, with line coach Scott Huff getting the co-coordinator title, while Hill was brought in after a month at Hawaii. While at Eastern Washington from 2009 to 2015, he oversaw one of the most prolific offenses in the nation.
“Coach Hill has been awesome ever since he’s gotten here,” Rypien said. “I think he’ll definitely help me.”
STRENGTH UP FRONT
The line returns four players who made at least eight starts last season in senior guards Travis Averill and Steven Baggett, senior tackle Mario Yakoo and senior tackle Archie Lewis. Junior Mason Hampton is expected to slide into the center vacancy left by Marcus Henry. Hampton took most of the first-team snaps last fall camp with Henry hurt, and has done so in spring and fall camp.
Senior tackle Will Adams entered the fray in January after transferring from Auburn and has competed with Lewis at left tackle. Regardless of who earns the starting job, it has comforted Huff, who called it the deepest offensive line in recent years.
“They don’t get rattled a whole lot. ... When things come up that aren’t positive, a negative situation, they seem to respond. I’ve seen that through camp,” Harsin said.
DEPTH CHART (PROJECTED)
4 Brett Rypien
3 Tommy Stuart
13 Jeremy McNichols
26 Devan Demas
82 Thomas Sperbeck
81 Akilian Butler
6 Chaz Anderson
8 Sean Modster
1 Cedrick Wilson
28 A.J. Richardson
88 Jake Roh
87 Alec Dhaenens
72 Will Adams OR
74 Archie Lewis
73 Travis Averill
52 Andrew Tercek
59 Mason Hampton
67 Garrett Larson
70 Steven Baggett
60 Kellen Buhr
66 Mario Yakoo
77 John Molchon
49 Tyler Rausa
46 Joel Velazquez