Bronco Beat

SB Nation preview: Boise State ‘no longer a sure thing’

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin updates spring ball, talks schedule

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin met with the media April 4, 2017 following practice to update the Broncos' spring work, talk scheduling and more.
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Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin met with the media April 4, 2017 following practice to update the Broncos' spring work, talk scheduling and more.

Of the many, many college football previews, a personal favorite of mine are those that SB Nation’s Bill Connelly does every year. On Monday, it was Boise State.

The 2017 season is a unique one for Boise State, one that just as easily could reach some tremendous heights or result in another no-show in the Mountain West title game. And Connelly agrees, with the stat-heavy piece mixed in with statements like that the Broncos “have lost too many weird games,” and when talking a season projection, said “Man, I just don’t know.”

Using his statistical model, it projects Boise State to have a 50 percent chance or better at winning every game on its schedule, but that the Broncos likely will wind up a nine-win team. Connelly says junior quarterback Brett Rypien is one of the best in the nation, and if he takes a step up, should cover mistakes and some unproven commodities at receiver, running back and offensive line.

Connelly makes solid points about the Broncos’ dropoff in the last eight games of last season, as injuries and unreliable depth took a big toll. And he might not be far off when he said “It feels strange to say it about a coach averaging more than 10 games per year, but damned if it doesn’t feel like (Bryan) Harsin is under pressure. Or at least, he could be soon.” The Broncos are 4-5 in their last nine against the Mountain Division, and if they don’t win the division again, it would be the first time since 1995-98 that the Broncos didn’t win their conference or get a shot to win it in at least three straight years.

Other points to note from Connelly: he noted that junior defensive tackle David Moa might be the best defensive player in the conference. His shift from nose tackle should make him more disruptive, I think. He also said “(Cedrick) Wilson is awesome.” Tough to disagree. ... I also agree the Nov. 11 game at Colorado State could be huge. Count me in the group thinking the Rams will take a big step up in 2017. ... Connelly notes that the secondary is rebuilding, and while true, it’s a deep group that should be productive. The key question is if it can restrict big plays like it did last year. ... His rankings have the Broncos as a top-20 offense, No. 63 on defense and No. 29 overall as a team.

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Former Boise State running back Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who was suspended last season for four games, which will stretch into this year, was back working out Monday. Martin went to rehab after his suspension, but GM Jason Licht said “He looks great. He looks, right now, as good as I've seen him since I've been here from a physical standpoint.” Martin was in Boise earlier this month.

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The 21st Annual National Football Foundation Southern Idaho Chapter Scholar Awards Banquet will honor eight Idaho high school athletes and a trio of Idaho college athletes on April 29 at Meridian’s Courtyard by Marriott.

Darren Lee, whose Boise State career finished last season, will be given the Lyle Smith Award as Boise State’s top student-athlete, with Idaho State’s Hayden Stout (Meridian) and the College of Idaho’s Marcus Lenhardt (Eagle) will be honored for their contributions at their schools.

The high school honorees are Blake Bartschi (South Fremont High), Drew Korf (Capital), Caleb Ziegler (Fruitland), John Mahon (Council), Keenan Pattwell (Mountain View), Kyle Pierce (Skyview), Mitch Maxfield (Emmett) and Vincent Sengelmann (Bishop Kelly). Tickets are $40. For reservations, call 208-424-1011 or email Joshua.J.Borgman@espn.com.

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