The Greatest Show on Blue Turf took a massive personnel hit in the off-season

Key Recruit

DEMARCUS LAWRENCE With the entire 2011 starting defensive line now in the NFL, opportunity abounds for the 6'3", 241-pound defensive end, who transferred from Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kans., where he had 10 sacks last fall.

Breakout Player

KIRBY MOORE There are many reasons everyone is excited for Kellen's 6'3", 203-pound kid brother, a junior, to slide into the starting slot-receiver spot vacated by Tyler Shoemaker, who set a school record with 16 touchdown grabs last year. "He's a big target," Petersen says of Moore, "and smart as a whip."

The Skinny

GONE FROM the land of Smurf Turf is one of the Broncos' most recognizable faces, four-year starting quarterback Kellen Moore, one of seven all-conference seniors and 17 starters who have moved on. "We haven't been in this position for a while," says coach Chris Petersen of the mass exodus that leaves Boise State with just five returning starters. But none of the departed will be as hard to replace as Moore, the winningest QB in FBS history. Two-year understudy Joe Southwick and true freshman Nick Patti head a battle for the position among four candidates, each of whom has one thing their predecessor lacked: "They've all got some speed," says receiver Matt Miller, "so that's gonna add a whole new dimension to our offense."

Final Analysis

FOUR STARTERS from an offensive line that allowed a nation-low eight sacks are back, and that will help the eventual QB derby winner and oft-injured sixth-year senior running back D.J. Harper, who finally has a chance to be featured. There are greater concerns on defense, where a new starting unit must be forged on the line, long a Boise State strength. The lack of continuity may be troublesome in early-season matchups with Michigan State and BYU, but Petersen has more than enough material to build a conference champ in the school's final Mountain West season.

THE VITALS

Coach Chris Petersen (7th year)

73--6 (6--1 MWC)

2011 Record 12--1 (6--1, 2nd in MWC)

Final AP Rank 8

Returning Starters Offense 3, Defense 2

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 481.3 YPG (9)

Rushing Offense 171.9 YPG (40)

Passing Offense 309.4 YPG (11)

Total Defense 320.9 YPG (16)

Rushing Defense 110.0 YPG (17)

Passing Defense 210.9 YPG (43)

TELLING NUMBER 5

Points, combined, that Boise State lost by in its three defeats over the course of the past four seasons, to TCU (twice) and Nevada.

TOP PLAYERS

Offense

RB D.J. Harper

Sr., 5'9", 205 pounds

557 YDs, 9 TDs

WR Matt Miller

Soph., 6'3", 215 pounds

62 RECs, 679 YDs

RT Charles Leno

Jr., 6'4", 287 pounds

13 starts

Defense

LB J.C. Percy

Sr., 6'0", 223 pounds

48 tackles, 1 int

CB Jamar Taylor

Sr., 5'11", 198 pounds

27 tackles, 2 ints

CB Jerrell Gavins

Sr., 5'9", 169 pounds

11 tackles, 3 ints

Special Teams

PR Mitch Burroughs

Sr., 5'9", 193 pounds

18 PR, 13.3 avg, 64 longest

PHOTODARIN OSWALD/IDAHO STATESMAN/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.COM (MILLER)Miller is one of only five returning starters to a team that is breaking in a new quarterback and an entire defensive line. PHOTOSTEVE CONNER/ICON SMI (MOORE)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)