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Boise State Tweaks Their O-Line

The Boise State Broncos are almost halfway through spring ball and here is what little we know about the offensive side of the football team so far:

Not much, and Friday’s scrimmage was a closed practice. It was also overshadowed by having NFL scouts from 28 pro teams on campus for Pro Day, with the focus on outgoing QB Kellen Moore and 15 of the graduating seniors. (They did very well, by the way).

There is no doubt that head coach Chris Petersen and his band of coaches have their hands full replacing those seniors that have a depleted the Bronco football team of many key players. It’s way too early to do more than just speculate on some positions and the quarterback position is one of those. It’s still up for grabs even though last year’s backup, Joe Southwick, is expected to be the heir-apparent.

The junior is competing with sophomore Grant Hedrick, redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea, and Nick Patti, a true freshman. Reports from the field have been reporting that newcomer Patti is having an awesome spring. In fact, all four have been impressive. That is one reason the Broncos are taking their time in choosing a starting quarterback. According to Petersen, it's poise, decision-making and accuracy that he will be looking for before he names the starter, which might not come until fall practice. “These guys are good players,” he said last week, “so we have to give them all a fair chance.”.

Luckily, the quarterbacks have a good offensive line giving them time to throw. All but one are returning starters: senior Joe Kellogg is back at left guard; junior Charles Leno Jr. is in at right tackle; senior Cory Yriarte at center; and junior Jake Broyles, who is back on the line at right guard after ending last season with a toe injury. The battle in the trenches will be for left tackle and who best to replace All-American left tackle Nate Potter, who has left for a likely spot in the pros. Right now, senior Faraji Wright might have that spot nailed down.

Other key players challenging for a spot on the O-line are senior Michael Ames, playing guard this spring and who can also provide depth at tackle; senior Brenel Myers who can compete at both guard and tackle; and junior Spencer Gerke at left guard. Junior Matt Paradis is also making a bid.

The offensive line will also have some help with their blocking from the backfield. Runningback D.J. Harper is back, along with fullback Dan Paul, who is back from a groin injury that had him sidelined last season. But those two are being tested by redshirt freshman Jamal Wilson. Another anticipated addition to the backfield is incoming freshman fullback Armand Nance, who is won’t join the team until August.

Key to the Bronco offense is the tight end position. They sometimes use up to three in a single play. New tight ends coach Scott Huff knows that very well. He is also juggling the special teams coaching duties this year as well. Now that Kyle Efaw is gone, there is a gaping hole begging to be filled. Fortunately, Huff has junior Gabe Linehan, who is expected to start as the primary this year.

Huff also has senior Chandler Koch, who played fullback last year, but who is working out as a tight end once again. The depth is also there, with sophomore Connor Peters, a transfer from Laney College in California, and redshirt freshman Holden Huff in the running to make the rotation. Redshirt freshman Jake Hardee, true freshman Hayden Plinke and sophomore Kyle Sosnowski are other players to keep an eye on as the spring game approaches.

That game is coming up fast: April 14th to be exact. Everyone has a lot of questions to ask before then, especially about the defense. Hopefully we can get some of them answered before the game kicks off.

In the meantime, next week we will look at the cornerback and wide receiver positions, along with how the special teams are shaping up.