SCOUTING REPORT Seemingly every season, the NCAA faces public outcry demanding a playoff to determine the FBS champion. And seemingly every season, Boise State ignites it. The Broncos are the proverbial lightning rod, a blue-clad, polarizing presence that routinely engulfs the nation in heated debate.In 2011, look for that trend to continue. As in recent years, these Broncos have the talent -- and experience -- to make a run at a third consecutive BCS berth.It all starts with Kellen Moore. After stuffing the stat sheet with 3,845 passing yards and 35 touchdowns in 2010, the Heisman finalist seems poised for an encore performance this season. He's a tireless worker, a trusted decision-maker, and, best of all, a deadly accurate passer. He finished last year with a 71.3 completion percentage, third in the nation, throwing just one interception in his final 138 attempts."He's very poised," said head coach Chris Petersen. "He plays at a very consistent level."The offense also benefits from the return of running back Doug Martin, left tackle Nate Potter and center Thomas Byrd, all first-team All-WAC selections in 2010. Coupled with Moore, they could overpower younger, and unfamiliar, Mountain West opponents.Boise's defense returns seven starters as well, looking to build off a campaign where it finished second in the nation in total defense. Headlined by right end Shea McClellin, linebacker Byron Hout and safety George Iloka, it's a unit Petersen believes is consistently underrated."For whatever reason, it seems like Boise's known as more of an offensive school," Petersen said. "But if you really study us, one of the reasons we've won so many games is because our defense has played at a very high level."Of course, the team also has its question marks. For the first time in Moore's career, he'll be without offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, placing play-calling responsibilities in the hands of new hire Brent Pease. Perhaps more worrisome, Boise loses top receiving threats Titus Young and Austin Pettis, a duo that combined for 2,166 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. It prompts the question: In need of a big play, who will Moore turn to?"We'll be back to spreading the ball around to a bunch of different guys," said Petersen. "It's gonna be back to the way we did things before Austin and Titus, which is by committee."Despite those uncertainties, the Broncos should factor prominently in the BCS picture. They've gone 61-5 since Moore's freshman season. Their schedule, albeit tougher, is manageable once more. Though they'd need some breaks to fall their way, they're hungry to finally compete on college football's biggest stage: the BCS National Championship Game."If we take care of business, if we're fortunate enough to go undefeated, one of these days the opportunity will come," said Moore.
THE BIG IF Can the Boise offense produce without go-to playmakers Titus Young and Austin Pettis, who combined for 2,166 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in 2010?
TELLING NUMBER 182.6 -- Quarterback rating for Kellen Moore in 2010, the highest of any passer in the nation.
KEY RETURNEES Kellen Moore, QB, Sr. -- Boise's unquestioned leader, Moore looks to cement his place in the NCAA record books in 2011. He finished among the top four nationally in passing touchdowns (35), completion percentage (71.3) and quarterback rating (182.6) last year, and should join Stanford's Andrew Luck as a preseason Heisman favorite.
Doug Martin, RB, Sr. -- Often overshadowed by Moore offensively, Martin put together an impressive campaign of his own in 2010. He racked up 1,598 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns, including a 84-yard scamper to break open last year's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against Utah. His 5-9 frame and power running style remind many analysts of Ray Rice.
Nate Potter, LT, Sr. -- A two-time first-team All-WAC selection, Potter anchors an offensive line that surrendered just eight sacks last season, third in the nation. The 6-6, 300-pound stalwart is a preseason All-America favorite, a relentless worker with textbook technique. He started in 21 consecutive Boise State games.
Shea McClellin, DE, Sr. -- A three-year starter, McClellin is seemingly the sparkplug behind Boise's second-ranked defense. He compiled 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss last season, both team highs, and disrupted countless other plays with his all-around athleticism. He's even become a regular in the end zone, the first Bronco defensive player to return both a fumble and interception for scores since 1999.
BREAKOUT PLAYER Geraldo Boldewijn, WR, So. -- While senior wideout Tyler Shoemaker will headline the Broncos' new-look receiving corps, Boldewijn presents the option with the highest upside. His 6-4, 189-pound frame gives him a size advantage over most Mountain West corners, and his 4.41 40 speed makes him a constant big-play threat. If the Blue & Orange spring game is any indication, look for Moore to seek out Boldewijn early and often. Boldewijn finished the scrimmage with five receptions for 97 yards, leading the team in both categories.
TOP RECRUIT Dextrell Simmons, LB, Jr. -- The only junior college transfer in Boise's 2011 haul, Simmons should see immediate playing time. His scheme recognition and premier tackling skills make him an ideal fit in Petersen's system, and he should help fill the void left by Winston Venable in the Broncos' reshuffled linebacking unit. Simmons also knows what it takes to win. His Blinn College team -- the same program Cam Newton attended in 2009 -- won the NJCAA Championship his freshman year.
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