Boise State football offensive line preview; see rendering of new video board


Guard Spencer Gerke and tackle Charles Leno Jr. vs. Demarcus Lawrence and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe

Note: I forgot to post this to the home page yesterday, so I put a link out there today. I’ll have the defensive backs preview later today.

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

Here is my offensive line preview, which is accompanied by a story in tomorrow’s paper:

OFFENSIVE LINE

Roster
76 Jake Broyles, 6-5, 286, R-Sr.
77 Spencer Gerke, 6-3, 303, R-Sr.
78 Charles Leno Jr., 6-4, 295, R-Sr.
65 Matt Paradis, 6-3, 300, R-Sr.
62 Chris Tozer, 6-4, 319, R-Sr.
72 Marcus Henry, 6-3, 285, R-So.
71 Rees Odhiambo, 6-4, 307, R-So.
73 Travis Averill, 6-3, 296, R-Fr.
70 Steven Baggett, 6-3, 285, R-Fr.
66 Mario Yakoo, 6-3, 323, R-Fr.
60 Kellen Buhr, 6-0, 285, R-Fr.
79 Avery Westendorf, 6-5, 292, R-Fr.
74 Archie Lewis, 6-3, 275, Fr.
75 Eli McCullough, 6-5, 271, Fr.
52 Andrew Tercek, 6-1, 279, Fr.
59 Mason Hampton, 6-2, 266, Fr.
61 James Meagher, 6-2, 286, Fr.

Projected depth chart
Left tackle: Leno, Baggett
Left guard: Gerke, Tozer
Center: Paradis, Averill
Right guard: Henry, Yakoo
Right tackle: Odhiambo, Broyles

Storyline: The Broncos’ offensive line has two faces — all savvy seniors from center to left tackle with two inexperienced sophomores on the right side. The sophomores, Henry and Odhiambo, have so much talent and athleticism that they’ve earned a nickname from the veterans. “The seniors refer to those guys as the Super Class in terms of their recruiting year together,” offensive line coach Chris Strausser said. “Those two guys are very athletic. They move their feet very well, but they’re also not a couple of old dogs who have had about every injury you could possibly have and I think that makes a difference, too, at this point in their life.”

Keys to success: The Broncos’ No. 1 goal is to run the ball consistently — regardless of opponent or situation. In recent years, they have struggled to run against their best opponents and at times in critical situations. “Guys understand the importance of it and it showed up in some of our bigger games when we haven’t been able to get that done,” Strausser said. “Those guys all understand there’s a heightened sense of urgency in terms of us being able to run the football.”

Reason for concern: The Broncos are two-fifths of the way through a changing of the guard. Other than the three senior starters and senior Jake Broyles, the group doesn’t have any meaningful game experience. So if anything happens to the seniors, the Broncos could be playing with two sophomores and a freshman or two.

Star player: Paradis earned All-Mountain West first-team honors last season and Leno made the second team. They’re likely to be in the running for the all-conference team again this year. Leno, in particular, is in the spotlight because the past three full-time left tackles are in the NFL. Leno also has the most career starts on the team with 26. “(Leno) is one of those guys, he wants to be the strongest in the weight room and he’s easily one of the top three or four in almost every category,” Strausser said. “He knows what the tradition at left tackle has been here — from (Daryn) Colledge to (Ryan) Clady to Nate Potter. And now it’s been passed on to him. I think he takes that very seriously.”

Breakout performer: Henry and Odhiambo emerged as future starters last season and made the most of their opportunity in spring ball. They haven’t wavered through fall camp. “Marcus (Henry) has had as good of an offseason as anybody in the group,” Strausser said. “Despite the fact he’s a young guy and makes young-guy mistakes, he acts like an old guy. He takes care of business. He’s prepared when he comes out on the football field. He’s one of the most physical guys we have. He’s not trying to block you. He’s trying to put you on your back. That’s the mentality we like.” Odhiambo could be the next in line at left tackle. Teammates rave about him but Strausser still wants to see more consistency. “He gets a chance to line up against (defensive end) Demarcus Lawrence about every other play and that’ll challenge you on your consistency,” Strausser said. “He’s getting better. He’s definitely getting better. He’s got so much talent that if he could ever get to the point where we can count on him every play he’s going to be a heck of a player for us.”

Newcomer to watch: Yakoo and Averill have pushed for playing time during fall camp and Strausser usually find a way to get up-and-comers like them a chance. Yakoo is the third guard. Averill is the backup center but also can play guard.

Quotes/notes:

— The Broncos lost starting right tackle Brenel Myers, right guard Michael Ames and left guard Joe Kellogg.

— The Broncos will not have a senior on the offensive line next season.

— Strausser: “It’s an interesting mix of some pretty good veteran leadership with Leno, Gerke and Paradis and at the same time some very young guys who have played virtually no football. … The consistency thing is really one of our biggest missions right now. Those guys who have more football experience are making fewer mistakes.”

— Strausser on Broyles, who started the opener each of the past two years before injuries sidelined him: “Two years off is hard on a guy. Realistically, he’s been two years without playing much football. So I still believe to this day Jake’s got a lot of talent and he’s a physical player for us. One thing I’ll say about Jake — when he’s in the game, he makes stuff happen and he plays with a very physical nature. But he’s also got some young guys who have been playing pretty consistently in front of him right now.”

— Strausser on Gerke: “The thing that stands out most about Spencer Gerke is how much Boise State football means to him. It’s extremely important to him and that’s how he approaches it and that’s how he works. … I think it does mean something to him to come out of fall camp as the starter.”

— Strausser on Leno: “He’s as athletic now as he’s ever been and usually that comes with being in the best shape you’ve ever been in.”

— Paradis on the offensive line’s goal for 2013: “Obviously we need to be able to run the ball. We don’t have a goal of a number of yards per game, but when we run the ball we are dominant in running the ball. We can run the ball whenever we want. Last year, we had some games where we’d do really well, some games where it was not as good. Whenever we want, we want to be able to run the ball. That’s the main goal.”

— Paradis on having the same starting five in spring ball and fall camp: “It’s been great. The longer you can be together the more trust you have and the more you grow as an O-line — I think that’s huge.”

— Gerke: “The younger guys coming in, they didn’t get a lot of playing time last year, but it feels like they have because they went through spring ball as the ones. I feel like our group, because of the experience, we’re going to be set — pass game, run game, whatever. We’re going to be set.”

OTHER PREVIEWS

Quarterbacks, tailbacks, wide receivers, linebackers, tight ends

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Courtesy of Boise State

Courtesy of Boise State


Boise State on Tuesday released a rendering of what the new video board will look like in the north end zone (see photo). The blue areas on the sides are speakers. The HD board will be 37 feet, 2 inches tall and 58 feet, 9 inches wide. The old board is 24×18 — the new one is five times that big. Boise State has said the new board will be operational by the Sept. 28 home game against Southern Miss, but it hopes to have it ready sooner.

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Here is a Q&A with Chris Petersen from Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com.


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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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