With two days left to the big matchup on the blue turf, we touched bases with Kevan over at OBNUG, and exchanged a few questions. Kevan's answered a few questions for us here, while we've answered some questions over at their site. Let's get right to it:
Does Kellen Moore have any weaknesses? If you were an opposing team, how would you attack him?
Weaknesses? Well, Kellen Moore works too hard and he cares too much. [Office'd!] Also, he is not a scrambler, although he showed some surprising non-sedentary movement in the fall scrimmages. You can't knock his accuracy. You can't say anything bad about his leadership. He might seem hit or miss on the deep ball, but isn't every quarterback hit or miss on the deep ball? I mean, you can only expect to complete about half of those anyway.
I think that the TCU game showed the first chink in Moore's armor, and it really had nothing to do with Moore. If I were to defend him, I would do it similar to how TCU did - collapse the pocket and get people at his feet. When Moore sets to throw, he is deadly. When he is uncomfortable in the pocket, he is less deadly. The important part is to collapse the pocket, not just to get pressure. He knows how to escape pressure, like a squirrel knows where to bury nuts. It's innate. If he has nowhere to go and has to make plays off his back foot or under duress, he can be fallible.
Honestly, it is really the only time I have ever seen him be anywhere close to average. The INTs he threw last year (he did throw 10 of them, despite what we Bronco fans might tell you) were so scattershot and random - tipped balls, bad routes, defensive pressure - that you can't really point to a common trend. He did everything else like a champ. He's a tough one to defend.
Last year, the Broncos were fairly weak in the run game. Will that improve? Will Boise State be able to control the line and run the ball consistently against good teams?
I wrote far too many words about this over at OBNUG today because I really feel it will be important when all is said and done on Thursday. I cannot say with confidence that Boise State will be a better running team in 2009. I can say it with blind hope and homerism and childlike faith. I cannot say it with any certainty because I have yet to see it happen.
The best glimmer we fans got of a strong running game was in fall scrimmage when a backup safety ran for boo koo yards. He was an RB last year, so it wasn't that big of a stretch, but it really did underscore the complete and total mystery surrounding what the Bronco ground game will look like this year.
I'll tell you this much. I like our running back situation a lot more than I did at the end of last year. Ian Johnson was not a good fit for our offensive line; Jeremy Avery was much better. The only problem is that the line we had last year (the one that we tolerated all season long with the promise that there would be experienced players in 2009) is not the line that we have this year. We have two newbies at important spots (RT and LG), and no one has ever seen them in actual games.
Will we control the line this season? We're bigger in girth, so maybe. Can we do it against good teams? That's certainly the goal. But honestly, I have no idea until I see what happens on Thursday night.
No question Boise State has a number of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Overall though, there is a great deal of underclassmen playing key roles. Do you feel that inexperience will be a factor in the game?
The youth doesn't concern me because of the experience factor. Boise State's roster is young, but it is filled with players who endured last season's 12-1 campaign. If we want to get very particular at who is new, I'd say the only real ones you could point to are Michael Ames and Will Lawrence on O-line, Tyler Shoemaker at WR, Winston Venable at S/LB, and maybe Aaron Tevis at LB (Tevis actually started our season opener last year). That's only five guys out of what preview mags might have called eleven or so.
I'm okay with their youth since the experience is there. What concerns me a little is the magnitude of this Oregon game and playing with expectations. Last year in Eugene was huge, except that no one really expected the Broncos to win. Everything is different this year, we are ranked as high as we've ever been preseason, there's an enormous amount of national attention. I can't imagine that the players would not feel some of that.
On the defensive side, how do you feel that the defensive side as a whole will fare against Oregon's spread option attack?
Apart from LeGarrette Blount hurdling defensive backs, I think the Broncos will do pretty well. D-coordinator Justin Wilcox is savvy when it comes to these types of offenses since we are so used to seeing the spread option run a myriad of different ways across the WAC.
Of course, no one we'll see this season will run it as well as Oregon. I have the utmost faith that our players will be in the right position to defend the spread option. It will really come down to one-on-one battles to see how it ultimately plays out. I think that the confidence the defense gained from last year will be a huge plus going into this game. It's one thing to know that you will be in the right position to make a play, but it's another entirely to remember that you've been in that position before and you've made the play. It's kind of like how I feel every time I have to warn an Oregon commenter on my site. The experience helps.
The secondary of BSU is one of the best in the nation. I think that the offense will hold the advantage, and that if given enough time, any secondary will be beat. What are your expectations on the secondary?
You're so right. A good secondary does not make for a good pass defense. The pass rush will have to show up, the linebackers will have to play assignment football. There are so many factors that are outside the secondary's control.
The Bronco secondary alone will hold up just fine. The luxury of having a player like Kyle Wilson (who I think would start at a number of Pac-10 schools, if not all, and maybe even be all-conference) is that he can lock down an entire side of the field if necessary, allowing the Bronco defense to get creative. But let's assume that he doesn't, and the Broncos play everything straight up. There are future stars at safety in George Iloka and Jeron Johnson (I'm not sure if you guys remember him or not, but he played against the Ducks last year). CB Brandyn Thompson will be the future Kyle Wilson, starting next season. The depth at corner at BSU is astounding, so I don't think the Broncos will run out of options there.
I'm curious to see how S/LB Winston Venable does. He is playing the Ellis Powers role from last year, which was a huge part to our secondary. The tricky part about defending Oregon is that they can beat you in so many different ways. I expect the secondary to have a great game on Thursday night. I think they will hold Masoli to around 50 percent passing, create at least one turnover, and take away the deep pass. That said, Masoli could still beat the Broncos by making plays with his feet, taking what the defense gives him, and buying time in the pocket. I don't think that a great performance by the Boise State secondary will preclude the Ducks from winning. It will take a team effort from the Broncos, no doubt.
OK, as much as I know you don't want to say it, isn't this the biggest game in the history of Bronco Stadium?
Yes, it is. Until UC Davis comes to town in October.