#18 Boise State 2018 Football Preview

Boise State Broncos
Overall Rank: #18
#1 Mountain West
 Boise State Logo
Boise State got off to a rough start in 2017 as the Broncos started off 2-2 with losses at Washington State and a blow out loss at home against Virginia. However, after the loss to the Cavaliers, Boise State rattled off a 9-1 finish which included a Mountain West Conference championship and a Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon. Coach Bryan Harsin has continued the consistent run of excellence in Boise over the last five years and, with an experienced defense returning, the Broncos are primed for another big season.
2017 Record: 11-3, 7-1
2017 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Oregon (38-28 W)
Coach: Bryan Harsin (42-12 at Boise State, 49-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Zak Hill
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Avalos
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Alexander Mattison, RB, 1,086 yards
Passing: Brett Rypien, QB, 2,877 yards
Receiving: A.J. Richardson, WR, 494 yards
Tackles: Kekoa Nawahine, S, 108
Sacks: Curtis Weaver, STUD, 11.0
Interceptions: Kekoa Nawahine, S, 3
Other Key Returnees:  WR Sean Modster, LT Ezra Cleveland, LG John Malchon, RG Eric Quevedo, DE Durrant Mills, NT Sonatane Lui, DT David Moa, STUD Jabril Frazier, MLB Tyson Maeva, CB Tyler Horton, CB Avery Williams, S DeAndre Pierce
Key Losses:  LB Leighton Vander Esch, WR Cedrick Wilson, TE Jake Roh
Brett Rypien heads into his season at quarterback to pick up form where he left off in the second half of the 2017 season. Rypien threw for 2,877 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions, including just one in the final eight games. Alexander Mattison is back at running back and Mattison will look to put together another 1,000-yard season in 2018. Last season, Mattison rushed for 1,086 yards and 12 touchdowns and if he can increase his production at home, this offense will really flourish. A.J. Richardson and Sean Modster will team up to take over the role that Cedrick Wilson had as the go to receiver for the Broncos. Ezra Cleveland will set the tone for the offensive line at left tackle as Cleveland is a sophomore who should take a big step forward after starting all 14 games last year.
Boise State did an excellent job of controlling opposing offenses all season long. The Broncos limited teams to just 120.2 rushing yards per game, which was good enough for 17th in the country. They also did a great job of causing turnovers as Boise State was +13 overall in the turnover battle last season. Curtis Weaver is back at the Stud position and will look to bring plenty of heat off the edge after collecting 11 sacks in 2017. In the secondary, it starts with Tyler Horton who will be a candidate for Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Kekoa Nawahine is a junior safety that just simply makes plays all game long. Nawahine had three interceptions along with 108 tackles last season. The linebacker group should still be strong despite losing Leighton Vander Esch to the NFL Draft. Tyson Maeva will set the tone at middle linebacker and there are plenty of young players that are ready to step up as needed. Special teams will be a big strength for the Broncos as kicker Haden Hoggarth, punter Quinn Skillin, and ace returner Avery Williams are all back this season.
Bottom Line:
The schedule is a tricky early on as Boise State will play three of their first four games on the road. A trip to Troy will start the 2018 season in a battle of two of the top Group of Five teams in the nation. Connecticut visits in week two for the home opener and then awaits trips to Oklahoma State and Wyoming. They say that defense travels and that is why the Broncos have a shot to start to 4-0 and at minimum 3-1 because of that defense. Now, as for the rest of the schedule, after hosting San Diego State on October 6th, Boise State should be able to win out until the play Fresno State on November 10th. If the Broncos can knock off the Bulldogs, then they should be in the drivers’ seat to get to a New Year’s Six Bowl game in 2018. Overall, look for about eleven wins and a top twenty national ranking by the CFP committee at the end of the season.
Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 143.5 (91st in nation, 9th in Conference)
Passing Offense: 262.6 (37, 3)
Total Offense: 406.1 (57, 4)
Scoring Offense: 32.5 (36, 2)
Rushing Defense: 120.2 (17, 2)
Pass Defense: 212.4 (49, 6)
Total Defense: 332.6 (21, 3)
Scoring Defense: 22.9 (38, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.93 (9, 2)
Sacks: 2.43 (35, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (60, 6)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#77 Brett Rypien