As the Boise State football team prepares for perhaps the biggest home opener in school history Thursday night, many Bronco fans are still searching for answers surrounding the young Boise State offensive unit. With a number of new faces working their way into the offensive mix this fall, the only person who may truly have an idea what to expect is Boise State offensive coordinator, Bryan Harsin.
“Fall camp was good [for us],” Harsin said. “It was pretty typical, from an offensive standpoint...Having some players back helped…With all the new faces, getting those guys in on everything, it’s just a lot of information in a short amount of time. There are a lot of high expectations and guys are trying to get it right. They don’t all the time, but that’s part of it.”
Harsin is leaning on a core of returning starters to help give stability at the two positions with the biggest questions marks that remain: the offensive line and receiving corps. The Broncos will rely on second-year starting center, sophomore Thomas Byrd (5-11, 284), to help bring together an offensive line with minimal game experience.
“We’ve got some guys with experience back, but we’ve also got some new faces in there. They’ve done a great job. Now it’s just getting a chance to play. It’s putting those guys under fire and going out in a game situation…But I’m excited to see what the offensive line is going to do.”
In Harsin’s receiving group, juniors Austin Pettis (6-3, 201) and Titus Young (5-11, 170) return the most experience. The duo has combined for 144 receptions for 1,839 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in two seasons. After Pettis and Young, however, the current Bronco depth chart boasts four underclassmen that are expected to see significant playing time. One player that Harsin said he is particularly excited to see develop is sophomore Tyler Shoemaker (6-1, 207).
“Tyler Shoemaker is a guy that played a little bit last year and we expect big things from this year. He’s done well through fall camp and up to this point. Now it’s just getting him in the mix more than we did last year. He will have more opportunities and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do with it.”
Perhaps Harsin’s biggest asset this season, though, will be the return of sophomore quarterback Kellen Moore (6-0, 187) who is coming off the most prolific freshman season in school history. Harsin hopes that he will be able to throw a balanced offensive attack at opponents all season, combing the aerial threat of Moore with a stable of talented running backs led by juniors Jeremy Avery (5-9, 173) and D.J. Harper (5-9, 198).
The Bronco running game will once against be powered behind third-year starting fullback Richie Brockel (6-2, 240). Harsin will also call upon tight ends Tommy Gallarda (6-5, 249) and Kyle Efaw (6-4, 229) for significant contributions both as blockers in the running game and as receiving weapons for Moore.
“[Balance] is the goal. I think most teams would say the same things, that we want to be able to run and pass about he same amount. That leaves your options open. Hopefully we can do that. If we can, we’ve got a good opportunity [to be successful]. If we can’t, we’re going to have to make adjustments.”