BOISE STATE-TCU BOWL PREVIEW SERIES:
OFFENSIVE BACKFIELD AND LINEBACKERS
In the third of the series of Poinsettia Bowl previews, broncosports.com breaks down the key head-to-head matchups at the offensive backfield and linebacker positions. Without question, a great deal of focus will be paid on the quarterback comparison between Andy Dalton and Kellen Moore. While they will not line up at any point together on the field, all eyes will be on them as the two offenses will have to work for every yard. Which quarterback puts there team in a position to score points of any kind has a leg up.
Disrupting the offensive flow of either quarterback falls into the hands of the roamers and tacklers. A group better known as the linebackers. TCU does it with two linebackers, utilizing a 4-2-5 lineup that capitalizes on its team speed. Boise State features four seniors in their linebacking mix, including a hybrid backer/safety who has created havoc all season.
BSU Quarterback Kellen Moore vs. TCU Quarterback Andy Dalton:
Two quarterbacks who earned all-conference recognition. Moore was a second team All-WAC selection, completing 70 percent of his passes for 25 touchdowns. The red-shirt freshman used his high football IQ and uncanny accuracy to lead the WAC in pass efficiency. Moore makes very few mistakes, but has also probably not seen a defense yet in his college years with the speed and playmaking ability of TCU. Dalton, meanwhile, commands a TCU offense that prides itself on ball possession. The honorable mention All-Mountain West pick threw for 11 touchdowns, while proving to be a double threat running for 358 yards and 8 touchdowns.
TCU Linebacker Jason Phillips vs. BSU Fullback Richie Brockel:
A four-time All-Mountain West selection, Phillips has been TCU’s leading tackler in three of the past four seasons. The 6-1, 234 pounder fills gaps and makes his way into opposing backfields regularly, ranking second to All-American Jerry Hughes on the Horned Frog team with 12.0 tackles for loss. Brockel, along with senior tailback Ian Johnson, will be used in the backfield to help for pass protection. This type of game is right up Brockel’s alley, an old school fullback who just wants to fill a hole and hit somebody. The Broncos need him to hit Phillips a few times.
BSU Tailback Ian Johnson vs. TCU Linebacker Daryl Washington:
Mr. Boise State, Ian Johnson is making his final appearance in a Bronco uniform. On a stage like the Poinsettia Bowl, Johnson will no doubt want to have a big game. He ended the regular season with a season high 128 yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State, and needs just one score to break Marshall Faulk’s WAC record for rushing touchdowns. Washington will be in the spotlight, with media reports that first team All-Mountain West Conference linebacker Robert Henson will not play in Tuesday’s game. Henson was second on the team with 73 tackles and was the perfect compliment to Phillips. Washington has plenty of game experience, making 57 tackles this season. In TCU’s two linebacker set, Washington is the outside backer who runs sideline to sideline and will be focusing on the edge runs.
TCU’s Running Back by Committee vs. BSU Linebackers Kyle Gingg and Derrell Acrey:
The Horned Frogs feature three running backs who have 300 or more yards rushing this season. Joseph Turner is the team’s leading rusher with 494 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Aaron Brown has 445 yards and Ryan Christian has 380 yards and four touchdowns. It’s a rushing attack that has averaged 216 yards per game and scored 37 rushing touchdowns. Bronco linebackers Gingg and Acrey have combined for 125 tackles and three forced fumbles. Gingg has been in big game situations and will need to come up big against the TCU rushing attack. Acrey has been in and out of the starting lineup this year, and in a game against a very physical offensive attack like TCU’s, Acrey’s athletic ability and 233 pound frame will pay dividends.
BSU Running Back Jeremy Avery:
Avery is the wildcard in the Bronco offensive attack. Against the overpursuing and fast defensive front of San Jose State, Avery was the piece that moved the Bronco offense, running for 96 yards. He also added game changing touchdown runs of 57 yards at Idaho and 43 yards against Fresno State. TCU’s front and linebackers are fast, aggressive and tackle the ball. Avery’s low center of gravity, coupled with his rare mix of speed and power provide the Broncos with what could be a huge weapon against the Horned Frogs.