Coach: Dan Hawkins (5th season, 44–7) 2004 record: 11-1 (Lost to Louisville in Liberty Bowl) WAC finish: 8-0 (1st) 2004 I-A offensive rankings: Rushing: 14th (229.8 ypg) Passing: 20th (262.8 ypg) 2004 I-A defensive rankings: Rushing: 10th (103.9 ypg) Passing: 99th (253.9 ypg)
at Oregon State
San Jose State
at Utah State
New Mexico State
at Fresno State
at Louisiana Tech
Depth Chart: Offense
8 returning starters in red
Depth Chart: Defense
8 returning starters in red
Mike G. Williams
Mike T. Williams
Marcosus Le Blanc
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Each year, the Boise State football program sets the bar higher. And each year, the Broncos clear it.
The bar gets even higher in 2005 -- with the team setting a goal of finishing in the top five nationally and appearing in a Bowl Championship Series game for the first time in school history.
The Broncos are 36-3 over the past three seasons with three Top 15 finishes in the Coaches' poll, three WAC championships and 26 straight conference wins.
The Broncos return 16 starters this season, including eight from the offense that ranked second in the nation in scoring.
"Our best days are still ahead of us as an offense," fifth-year offensive coordinator Chris Petersen said.
Quarterback Jared Zabransky accounted for 29 total touchdowns last season with his passing and running. He completed 63 percent of his passes and was named to the All-WAC second team. Yet coach Dan Hawkins rates his quarterback's performance a 6.5, with 10 being Zabransky's full potential. That's how much room for growth the Broncos' coaching staff sees in a quarterback whose athletic ability compensated for his unpolished passing and inexperience running the offense.
The ground game should be impressive again. The running back by committee produced 230 yards per game and a school-record 49 touchdowns last season.
Three starting offensive linemen return, including first-team All-WAC pick, left tackle Daryn Colledge. Tailback Lee Marks, at just 5-foot-7, 181 pounds, is a joy to watch. He slashes through openings that don't appear to exist.
Two of the top three wideouts were seniors last year, and only one returning wideout had more than 13 catches. Junior Drisan James must develope consistency to realize his full potential. If he does, he could be a star.
The rest of the production will come from a group that includes Vinny Perretta, a redshirt freshman who walked on last fall and earned a scholarship; senior Cole Clasen, a transfer from Oregon State; converted quarterback Legedu Naanee; junior college transfer Jerard Rabb; and returning reserves Chris Christopher, Josh Smith and Jason Murray.
The Broncos also hope they can count on junior tight end Derek Schouman, who owns the middle of the field when healthy.
The Broncos' defense starts with the tackles. The tandem of senior Alex Guerrero and junior Andrew Browning didn't get the credit it deserved last year. Neither made the All-WAC first or second team.
Junior Mike G. Williams will start at one defensive end spot for the third straight year, with the other side open to competition.
Junior middle linebacker Korey Hall, an All-WAC first-teamer last year, becomes the centerpiece of the defense. Junior Colt Brooks returns on the strong side and a long list of contenders will try to replace team leader and weak-side linebacker Andy Avalos.
The secondary has the most question marks. Junior Gerald Alexander needs to develop into an all-league player at cornerback, senior safety Cam Hall needs to have a breakout year, sophomore safeties Austin Smith and Marty Tadman need to prove they can take a physical pounding and someone must replace four-year starting cornerback Gabe Franklin.
Junior kicker/punter Kyle Stringer and freshman kicker Jameson Davis will try to replace All-American kicker Tyler Jones. Stringer was an All-WAC second-teamer as a punter in '04. His power and hang time make him a national honors candidate this year.
The Broncos face their most difficult schedule ever -- five bowl winners, two BCS conference teams and six road games in five different time zones.
They open with games at Georgia and Oregon State, and a home contest with Bowling Green. All three teams won bowl games last year. The Broncos also play at bowl winners Fresno State and Hawaii in WAC play, and at WAC contender Louisiana Tech.
"I think it really behooves all of us not to rest on our laurels," said Hawkins, who is 44-7 in four seasons.