Boise State football kicked off Spring practice on March 6th. They return key talent at skill positions but have plenty of questions in the trenches. There are also some coaching and scheme changes that are worth keeping an eye on. Here are a few things that Bronco fans should be keeping an eye on throughout Spring ball.
Who takes the snaps on the left side of the offensive line?
Boise State will have four new starters on the offensive line, but there is a fair amount of experience returning. Donte Harrington will return after missing the 2019 season and is expected to be a starter at one of the guard positions. Sophomore Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez will likely be the man in the middle, while two spots remain in question. Ben Dooley was an elite recruit in high school and should be a contributor at one of the tackle positions after redshirting last year. Garrett Curran and Jake Stetz both started games in 2019 and will be competing for starting positions. Junior college transfer Rideon Leong will also compete for playing time at tackle, but he will not be here for Spring ball.
Where will the sacks come from?
Curtis Weaver and Chase Hatada combined for 19.5 sacks in 2019 and will be difficult to replace. Keep an eye on Demitri Washington who played significant snaps late last season and has shown the ability to get to the quarterback. If I were a betting man, I would put money on Washington being first team all-conference. Boise State will have some new names inside where Utah transfer Jackson Cravens should compliment Scale Igiehon on the inside. Boise State will also have plenty of young talent and size in redshirt freshman Casey Kline, Dylan Hall and Isaiah Bagnah.
Can the Bronco defense force more turnovers?
Boise State has had some good fortune in the fumble department in recent seasons, but they have struggled in the interception department. Boise State corners did not have an interception until the Utah State game, and that will need to change in 2020. Avery Williams and Jalen Walker will be the expected starters at corner, but there is some young talent at that position that should push Williams for playing time.
Can special teams take the next step?
The Broncos struck gold at the kicking position by landing grad transfer Eric Sacshe. The Broncos will be looking for a new kicker in 2020, and Joel Velazquez will have to improve if he wants to be involved in any capacity. It will be worth watching who does the bulk of the kicking in Spring ball. Gavin Wale redshirted in 2019 and should have an opportunity to be a four year starter for Boise State.
Will the offensive scheme look different under new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau?
The offensive coordinator announcement took longer than expected, but the outcome was what most of us expected. Kiesau has the experience and talent to lead a dynamic offense, but how much play calling he will actually do remains to be seen. Kiesau’s offenses have a reputation for playing with pace and utilizing edges. Boise State proved last season against Florida State that they had the quarterback and talent at skill positions to make that work. But, that wasn’t seen much as the season progressed.
Can the Broncos be even better this year?
Change isn’t always a bad thing. I think the change at offensive coordinator will be a net gain for the Broncos. Eric Kiesau’s role had already expanded greatly in 2019 when he added the title of co-offensive coordinator, and new wide receiver coach Matt Miller should shine under the mentorship of Kiesau. The one concern will come at running backs coach where former Boise State linebacker Winston Venable is replacing Lee Marks who left for Fresno State after not receiving the offensive coordinator position. I was initially critical of the Venable hire, but after talking to some former players and knowing what the Broncos have in that room, I think that unit will continue to be a strength.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting updates from Spring ball and a recap from the final scrimmage.