Boise State Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice
The Broncos are reloading for another run at the Mountain West title, but they aren’t without questions that need solving this spring.
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The early favorites have work to do.
It’s early March and the Boise State Broncos began spring practice today with plenty of helium as an early favorite to do serious damage in the Mountain West this fall. That sounds familiar.
Andy Avalos’s team overcame an agonizingly slow start to the 2022 season to make another championship game appearance and win ten games but, this time around, there are different problems in need of solutions over the next month or so.
Spring football is officially underway for the Boise State football team… pic.twitter.com/s9iqpdRS2V
— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) March 2, 2023
Are things as set in the secondary as they appear at first glance?
The Broncos head into 2023 with an eye toward replacing Caleb Biggers, Tyreque Jones, Tyriq LeBeauf, and JL Skinner, which would be a tough task for most teams but may be more manageable for the men in blue when you consider that others like Alexander Teubner, Seyi Oladipo, and Jaylen Clark are all back to help plug those holes in the depth chart.
How much room will there be for new faces to become role players? Markel Reed is also back for another year after missing nearly all of last season with injury, though it remains to be seen if he’s back to 100% at present, as are Rodney Robinson and Kaonohi Kaniho, but one relative newcomer who might be worth keeping an eye upon is Zion Washington, who finished last year as Jones’s backup at the nickelback spot.
How will the pass rush stack up?
In terms of raw numbers, Boise State’s 29 sacks last season may not seem like much. That ranked just fifth in the Mountain West, but it belies the fact the Broncos finished with a 7.6% team sack rate which ranked 35th among all FBS defenses (ahead of Fresno State and just behind Wyoming and San Diego State).
However, a number of last year’s top contributors, like Ezekiel Noa and George Tarlas, are gone and more will be expected of some less-familiar names in their stead. Ahmed Hassanein, for instance, saw increased playing time in the second half of last year, as did Herbert Gums, but a trio of transfer portal pickups — Kivon Wright, Tyler Wegis, and Sheldon Newton — could each practice their way into larger roles, too.
If Cortez Hogans and Demitri Washington can also stay healthy, all the better. The Broncos don’t need a double-digit sack master like Curtis Weaver to succeed, but if it’ll be another group effort that makes things work, identifying who will be part of that group may take time.
Can the offensive line restock with quality depth?
The good news in the trenches is that Garrett Curran, Cade Beresford, Ben Dooley, and Mason Randolph are back for another round in the trenches. The bad news is that John Ojukwu, Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez, Dallas Holliday, and Will Farrar have all moved on, so reinforcing one of last year’s biggest strengths will certainly be near the top of Avalos’s to-do list.
Roger Carreon should get another extended audition after being thrust into the starting lineup earlier than expected last September. He’ll be a part of a contingent likely to include other youngsters like redshirt sophomores Joseph Amos and Cord Kringlen and redshirt freshman Kage Casey which could compete for reps, too. This unit has been hit by the injury bug on occasion in recent years, so staying healthy and giving the newer guys chances to shine will be critical to maintaining last year’s leap forward.