Boise State enters Friday’s opener against Washington with enviable depth and experience in the offensive and defensive lines.
The Broncos return all five starters on the offensive line (guard Travis Averill actually lost his job) and six players who have combined for 95 career starts.
They return three of four starters on the defensive line and feature 11 juniors and seniors in their three-deep. Combined starts: 58.
“It’s basically going to be won or lost based on how we play,” senior left tackle Rees Odhiambo said of the veteran linemen.
Washington coach Chris Petersen knows the Broncos’ defensive line well. He and his staff recruited nine of the top 12 players to Boise — way back in 2010 in the case of senior end Tyler Horn.
“Trying to figure out how they’re still there,” Petersen joked this week, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. “... They played for a long time as young guys and so that’ll be a strength for them.”
Washington, meanwhile, returns just 15 starts on the offensive line and none on the defensive line.
The only senior offensive lineman on the depth chart, Siosifa Tufunga, moved to center this year. He is surrounded by so much youth that the Huskies expect to start a redshirt freshman at right tackle and are considering true freshman Trey Adams at left tackle.
The defensive line that was ferocious last year is so depleted that coaches moved starting linebacker Travis Feeney to the high-profile buck end position, the spot Kamalei Correa plays in Boise State’s defense. Seven of the Huskies’ top 12 defensive linemen are freshmen or sophomores.
Line experience is likely the key reason other than the venue that Boise State is heavily favored in this game.
“That’s the battle right there,” Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said.