Boise State built its reputation on playing some of the most challenging programs in non-conference play. That is once again the case, as they travel to Jacksonville to take on Florida State. While the Seminoles may have struggled in 2018, they are expected to be much improved and are predicted by most experts to be one of the top teams in the ACC. This game is one of the main attractions of week one and could be Boise State’s chance to get back into the national spotlight.
Time: 10:00 AM MT
Location: Doak Campbell Stadium (Tallahassee, Florida)
Channel: ESPN News
Will Boise State’s defensive backs be able to contain the speed and size of the Seminoles?
I’ve said it time and again, cornerback is my biggest concern for the defense. The Broncos will rely heavily on Avery Williams and Jalen Walker. Both players struggled in red zone situations against bigger receivers and that will definitely be a concern against Florida State. Boise’s corners will be battling receivers that are four to five inches taller. They will rely heavily on help over the top from Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce.
Can the Broncos generate points on defense or special teams?
Florida State has more speed and athleticism than Boise State; we can’t debate this. But, the Broncos should have the advantage in scheme. If they can formulate a solid game plan and come up with a few turnovers, they have an excellent chance to pull off the upset.
Boise State also has the potential to break off some big returns. Avery Williams, John Hightower, and Khalil Shakir all have the ability to take one to the house.
Will the quarterback have the poise to lead the Broncos to their biggest victory in years?
This is the golden question. Both teams have been going through quarterback competitions since fall camp began. It always appeared that James Blackmon was going to win the job for Florida State, but it wasn’t so clear for the Broncos. After “Fan Fest” on Saturday, Harsin proclaimed that Hank Bachmeier would be the starting quarterback against the Seminoles. We will be able to see what the true freshman is made of right off the bat. FSU has one of the best defensive tackles in the nation in Marvin Wilson. Will the Bronco offensive line be able to protect the young quarterback?
Has Florida State solved their offensive line issues?
This was probably the weakest unit for the Seminoles last season. The offensive line struggled in pass protection and their quarterback took way too many hits as a result. If Florida State has not improved significantly in this area, Curtis Weaver and the rest of the defensive line should be able to wreak havoc on Blackmon. I think five might be the magic number for the Broncos. If they can sack Blackmon five times and get double digit hits on him, he will have a hard time getting comfortable.
Can the Broncos run game be good enough to keep them on the field?
Boise State has a wealth of riches in the backfield, but it remains to be seen if any of them are ready to be “the guy.” Robert Mahone, Andrew Van Buren, and George Holani should all get some carries. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the go-to guy in critical situations.
Who is the better coach?
One thing is clear heading into this game. The Broncos have to be the better coached, more disciplined football team. If they aren’t, this game could get ugly. The Broncos have plenty of new faces on the defensive side of the ball, but the experience of the players returning should ease that transition. Willie Taggart is an expert recruiter, but isn’t exactly Nick Saban when it comes to execution on the football field. The Broncos have struggled against a Kendal Briles-led offense before. Did they learn their lesson from the 2016 Cactus Bowl?
What role will the weather play?
On Tuesday, news broke that Tropical Storm Dorian was making its way through the Caribbean and could make landfall Saturday carrying 50 mph winds and substantial rain. Like any weather phenomenon, it is nearly impossible to gauge how it will impact the game. However, there is a good chance that the playing conditions could be less than ideal. How will this impact the Broncos who are breaking in a new running back? Or the Seminoles who have plenty of questions on the offensive line? After I wrote this, the game was moved to Tallahassee. There is still a chance at rain, but weather should not be nearly as big as an issue.
Vegas Line: Florida State -7 (went up three points with location change)
I think the Broncos are going to be a very good football team this year, but it is going to take some time. You can’t lose an NFL quarterback and running back and expect them to hit the ground running. I expect the Broncos to have moments of excellence and moments where we are left scratching our heads. With that being said, I expect the Broncos to hang tough for three quarters. However, the speed and size of the Seminoles will eventually wear the Broncos down. The Broncos lose the game, but leave Florida with some confidence they can build on. Final Score: Florida State 31-Boise State 21
I have had to make a ton of changes to this preview over the course of the week. There are a number of factors that caused the game to change locations, but frankly I thought the game was going to be cancelled. I feel for the players, the families, and the fans. Travel for this game is going to be a nightmare. Where will the players be staying? Will fans be able to travel back for flights? There are a ton of questions entering this game and non of them favor the Broncos. I’m going to stick with my current prediction, but I fear things could get ugly. If the Broncos can manage to pull out a victory, this should go down as one of the greatest moments in program history.