Chris Petersen came up with a brilliant 92-12 run at Boise State before taking over the Huskies, and while he seemed like he was leaving at the right time following an 8-5 season, he missed out on the fun cranking back up.
That the 2013 season that was such a massive disappointment was just an anomaly, losing two Mountain West games by a total of four points while getting blown out in the big games against the Power 5 teams. The 2014 team he was leaving behind, though, looked like a potential heater.
Enter Bryan Harsin, who appears early on like the exact right coach taking over at the perfect time.
Petersen’s era wasn’t stale, but it needed a bit of a kickstart . Petersen was more than ready to see what he could do with a Pac-12 team, while Harsin came in as the young hotshot head man who knew the program and had seemed ready to be the Next Coach Up.
Dirk Koetter, to Dan Hawkins, to Petersen, to Harsin. It’s only been one season, but the new guy looks like he just might be every bit as good as his predecessors.
A quarterback at Boise State in the late 1990s and the offensive coordinator ten years later, Harsin came back home and dominated – at least after the opener.
The Ole Miss blowout in Atlanta might have made it seem like Boise State was slipping, and the Air Force misfire in late September wasn’t right, but all of a sudden, everything started to click.
The offense started to get more and more comfortable as the season went on, and after the 28-14 loss to the Falcons, Harsin helped turn the Broncos into an unstoppable force.
Boise State rolled through the rest of its schedule with a nine-game winning streak to close things out, scoring 50 points or more five times with a Mountain West title and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona.
12-2, conference title, BCS-level bowl win? The transition of power was complete.
Of course, that’s what’s expected at the program, and now it’s up to Harsin to keep the production year after year.
The 2015 team has to replace heart-and-soul running back Jay Ajayi and will be starting a new quarterback, but the other nine starters are back on an offense that averaged 40 points a game, and seven starters return from a defense that had its down moments, but was still among the best in the Mountain West.
It’s never boring to win another conference championship, come up with another double-digit win season, and be in another big bowl game, and that’s what Harsin has to do again this year because that’s what Boise State does.
And a win over Chris Petersen’s Washington Huskies on the first Friday night of the season wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
What You Need To Know About The Defense: The Broncos couldn’t seem to handle the quirky running games – Nevada, Air Force, San Diego State – but they did a tremendous job against just about everyone else, including Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl. Seven starters return along with a whole bunch of depth to a D that should be even better. The line will camp out in opposing backfields with a strong rotation at each spot, while Kamalei Correa and the linebacking corps should be dominant. The secondary gave up yards, but that’s because teams had to throw to keep up. Safety Darian Thompson and corner Donte Deayon lead a loaded group.
What to watch for on defense: The run defense is going to be impenetrable. There were problems against the pure ground attack teams last season – losing to Air Force after giving up 287 rushing yards, and struggling against New Mexico after allowing 505 yards and six touchdowns. However, the D found itself against just about everyone else, highlighted by slowing down the Arizona attack in the Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos allowed just three yards per carry or fewer in eight of the 14 games – that’ll be the norm this season. This year, the line is loaded with depth, and all the top linebackers return.
Best defensive player: Junior LB Kamalei Corra. The line is going to make things happen for a fantastic defensive front, and it’ll clean plenty of plays up for the linebacking corps. Corra will do his part as a disruptive force on the strong side. The all-star pass rusher camped out in opposing backfields all season long, coming up with a Mountain West-leading 12 sacks. He won’t have to do it all by himself, but with so many good players around him, he’ll get plenty of chances to turn it loose.
2014 Fun Stats:
– Penalties: Boise State 92 for 801 yards – Opponents 76 for 622 yards
– Touchdowns Scored: Boise State 73 – Opponents 46
– Sacks: Boise State 47 for 275 yards – Opponents 28 for 197 yards