Game Preview: Boise State Vs. Georgia

One of the most exciting, hyped-up games of the year gets underway tomorrow night when Boise State trots out on the gridiron down in Atlanta, to take on the fabled Georgia Bulldogs of the SEC. Both teams are ranked nationally in the 25, with the rankings depend on which poll you look at. The Boise State-Georgia Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game takes place at the Georgia Dome at 6 pm MT to open the 2011 College Football Season for both teams. The kick off will be on national television and televised by ESPN in HD.

Boise State was supposed to open the 2011 season at Ole Miss, but the Rebels agreed to move that game to the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff. BYU has replaced Boise State as the Rebels' opening opponent this season. While the Broncos will be looking for its first victory over an SEC team, this first game will prove critical to both teams, but especially to Boise State. A loss could put the Broncos entire season in dire straits on the opening night of the season. It would dash any hopes of a BCS game and could shake the teams confidence going forward as it did in 2005. Even the future of the entire Mountain West Conference might depend on the Broncos beating Georgia.

And a loss for the Dawgs could also prove costly. Last year the Georgia team finished 6-7, and until then they were the only Division IA Team to have won at least 8 games every year since the start of the 1997 Season. Head coach Mark Richt knows his Bulldogs need a win over the Broncos to restore respect and move themselves higher into the 25. He also knows they need the win to set his team up for a run at the National title. It goes without saying that a win over the top-ranked Broncos would at least get them into a BCS bowl game should they suffer one or two seasonal losses. The last time the Dawgs played in a BCS bowl was the Sugar Bowl in 2007.


A number of former players for both teams will be making appearances at the game: former QB Jared Zabransky and former defensive lineman Ryan Winterswyk are two of the former Boise State players to be on hand. Winterswyk, now a tight end with the Atlanta Falcons, will be part of the ceremonial coin toss. UGA alum Herschel Walker has also been invited for the coin toss. Zabransky, you will remember, was the Boise State QB of the 2005 team that went down to Georgia and lost 48-13. Knowing the Dawg fans, look for a lot of booing, insults, and laughter when he walks out on the field.

What kind of play to look for by Boise State:

Of course Heisman candidate QB Kellen Moore is back for his senior year along with an experienced offensive line. His defenders allowed less than one sack per game in 2010. That might change agaist Georgia and their defensive lineup. The huge Dawgs out-weigh the Bronco players by mammoth proportions on both sides of the ball. But luckily the Broncos have one of the best passers in College football to balance that. Moore has a 38-2 career record, so look for a lot of passes. Boise State has several outstanding receivers to replace former stars Young and Pettis, but you have to consider that the initial passing confidence might not be there just yet. Also, the Bulldogs gave up 3.7 yards per rush last season, giving them the 39th national ranking. I'm guessing there will a lot of running plays at least in the initial phases of the game in spite of the size of the Dawg defenders.

The return of running back Doug Martin to the lineup only reinforces that idea. As a downhill style of runner he was the backbone of the Bronco rushing attack last season and amassed 1,260 yards that averaged over six yards per carry. He is backed up by D. J. Harper, himself no slouch to the running game. Harper sustained injuries that kept him out a lot of action in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but he can also be a playmaker. Last year he romped for a 71 yard run en route to the win over Virginia Tech in the 2010 opener. So you can bet both will be seeing a lot of early action down in mint jupip land. Fullback Dan Paul will be out there going downfield as well. At 6-1 and 251, he looks like a chunk of hard gristle when he lines up. Look for a fly sweep or two, and at least one reverse play.

Tricky devils. That is not say the Broncos won't be passing. TE Tyler Shoemaker will be out there doing his thing along with WR Geraldo Boldweijn (formerly Geraldo Hiwat). Boldweijn is one of three natives of Amsterdam, along with fellow Dutchmen Cedric Febis and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, on the Broncos' roster and all three will get a shot against Georgia tomorrow night. Boldweijn is considered the most likely deep threat of the Broncos receivers.

Head coach Chris Petersen knows what to expect from Georgia: On offense, the Bulldogs really need some good production from their runners against one the best defenses in the nation. I'm thinking that size alone won't get it. Last season the Dawgs averaged 123.3 rushing yards per game overall and 204.3 yards per game passing. QB Aaron Murray had a 154.5% rating after completing 208 of 342 attempts, 24 TDs and 8 INTs. last year. But he leads what appears to be a tougher and more focused team than the one fielded in 2010. The Dawg offense includes a higher-tempo or no-huddle look this year. They must have taken a page out of the Oregon Duck's playbook---or maybe even Boise State's.

Sure the Dawgs are mean and tough, and spoiling for a dogfight. But on defense the Bulldogs could be looking down the throat of a Boise State's no-huddle offense as well. Boise State used that same no-huddle strategy against Hawaii last year and hung 737 yards of total yards on a very good Warrior team (a school record). During one stretch in the first half those rapid plays allowed Kellen Moore to complete 19 straight passes.

Still, there’s a huge down-side to a no-huddle offense both Boise State and Georgia need to keep in mind: if you’re not successful in sustaining drives and scoring, your defense is put right back on the field before they can catch a sideline blow. And an exhasusted defense gives up any perceived advantage the quick-strike option might offer. And if things go wrong offensively, there is also little time for an offense to regroup and refocus without a huddle.

So far the Boise State-Georgia game looks to be fast and full of scores. Perhaps more high scoring than a lot of forecasters are saying, especially with some momentum. Which brings us to Georgia's Brandon Boykin. Some coaches have restricted their players' use of social media like Twitter, and Boise State's Chris Peterson is one of them. Here's why: this past weekend, Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin used Twitter to challenge Boise State coach Chris Petersen to kick him the ball during Saturday night's game. "Dear Coach Petersen, I DARE you to Kick to me," Boykin tweeted, "Sincely, Me and my #dawgs." Now Boykin is a fine player and has three 100-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns, but thumbing your nose disrespectfully at the #5 ranked team in the nation is not a very good idea. "They have those kickers that coaches lose sleep over and the kick returner who wants a piece of me -- and I don't even play," Petersen told the Idaho Statesman in Boise. "I don't kick the ball. He's talking to the wrong guy. I'm shanking it out of bounds." So far, the Broncos have been professional about Boykin's taunt, and just shrug off the young Dawg. As amped as they are, the Broncos prefer to make their challenges on the field. Here is the Bronco depth chart for the Bronco-Bulldog opener:

OFFENSE

Quarterback:

#11 Kellen Moore, 6-0 191 sr., #16 Joe Southwick, 6-1 191 ;bs. so./OR #9 Grant Hedrick, 6-0 186 lbs, fr.

Tailback:

#22 Doug Martin 5-9 208 lbs, sr., # 7 D.J. Harper 5-9 201 lbs, sr.

Fullback:

#47 Dan Paul 6-0 251 lbs, sr., #88 Chandler Koch 6-2 246 lbs, jr.

Tight end:

#80 Kyle Efaw, 6-4 227 lbs, sr., #87 Gabe Linehan, 6-3 240 lbs, so.

Wide receiver:

#2 Matt Miller, 6-3 213 lbs, fr., #17 Geraldo Boldewijn, 6-4 204 lbs, so.

Wide receiver:

#20 Mitch Burroughs, 5-9 186 lbs, jr., #3 Chris Potter, 5-9 156 lbs, jr., #18 Aaron Burks, 6-2 191 lbs, so.

Slot receiver:

#89 Tyler Shoemaker, 6-1 213 lbs, sr., #34 Kirby Moore, 6-2 204 lbs, so.

Left tackle:

#73 Nate Potter, 6-6 295 lbs, sr., #75 Faraji Wright, 6-3 275 lbs, jr.

Left guard:

#61 Joe Kellogg, 6-2 303 lbs, jr., #77 Spencer Gerke, 6-3 289 lbs, so.

Center:

#66 Thomas Byrd, 5-11 290 lbs sr., #65 Matt Paradis, 6-1 280 lbs, so.

Right guard:

#76 Jake Broyles, 6-4 289 lbs so., #55 Chuck Hayes, 6-2 288 lbs, sr.

Right tackle:

#78 Charles Leno Jr., 6-3 294 lbs, so., #54 Michael Ames, 6-4 283 lbs, jr.

DEFENSE Stud:

#92 Shea McClellin OR 6-3 255 sr., #96 Jarrell Root 6-3 262 sr.

Tackle:

#90 Billy Winn 6-4 300 sr., #43 Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe 6-3 303 so. Nose:

#97 Chase Baker 6-1 298 sr., #99 Mike Atkinson 6-0 312 jr.

End:

#40 Tyrone Crawford OR 6-4 273 sr., #96 Jarrell Root 6-3 262 sr.

Weak-side linebacker:

#36 Aaron Tevis OR 6-3 234 sr., #48 J.C. Percy 6-0 221 jr.

Middle linebacker:

#94 Byron Hout OR 6-0 239 sr., #33 Tommy Smith 6-1 236 jr.

Nickel:

25 Hunter White OR 5-11 213 sr., #32 Jonathan Brown 5-10 212 so., #6 Dextrell Simmons 5-10 202 jr.

Cornerback

#5 Jamar Taylor 5-11 196 jr., #26 Quaylon Ewing-Burton 6-0 182 so.

Cornerback:

#4 Jerrell Gavins 5-9 167 sr., #46 Bryan Douglas 5-9 163 fr.

Safety:

#8 George Iloka 6-3 213 sr., #30 Travis Stanaway 5-11 199 sr.

Safety:

#16 Cedric Febis 6-3 206 sr., #10 Jeremy Ioane 5-10 192 fr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker:

#41 Dan Goodale OR 5-9 184 fr., #84 Michael Frisina 5-5 159 jr.

Punter:

#49 Brad Elkin 6-2 194 sr., #14 Trevor Harman 6-2 216 so.

Kickoff specialist:

#14 Trevor Harman 6-2 216 so., #41 Dan Goodale 5-9 184 fr.

Holder:

#16 Joe Southwick 6-1 191 so.

Long snapper:

#44 Chris Roberson 6-0 241 jr.

Kickoff returners:

#20 Mitch Burroughs 5-9 186 jr., #3 Chris Potter 5-9 156 jr., #22 Doug Martin 5-9 208 sr., 7 D.J. Harper 5-9 201 sr.

Punt returners:

#3 Chris Potter 5-9 156 jr., #20 Mitch Burroughs 5-9 186 jr.

Hey, y'all. Tune in. Tomorrow night's MWC-SEC showdown game is going to be a biggie.
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