CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 21 Boise State

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2011 record: 12-1 overall, 6-1 in MWC (2nd)

2011 postseason: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (56-24 win over Arizona State)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 8/No. 6

Head coach: Chris Petersen (73-6 in six seasons at Boise State)

Offensive coordinator: Robert Prince (fourth season at Boise State, first as OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 40th rushing offense (171.9 ypg); 11th passing offense (309.4 ypg); 9th total offense (481.3 ypg); 5th scoring offense (44.2 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: three

Defensive coordinator: Pete Kwiatkowski (seventh season at Boise State, third as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 17th rushing defense (110 ypg); 43rd passing defense (210.8 ypg); 16th total defense (320.8 ypg); 12th scoring defense (18.7 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: two

Location: Boise, Idaho

Stadium: Bronco Stadium (37,000; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2010 (WAC co-champs with Hawaii and Nevada)

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
With TCU’s departure for the Big 12, the Broncos are the undisputed kings of the Mountain West ahead of its 2013 move to the Big East. Additionally, the program was able to stave off yet another offseason of multiple attempts by other schools to pry Petersen out of Boise. And those are indeed good things, because …

The Bad
The Broncos return five starters total — three on offense, two on defense. Included in those 17 lost starters are the greatest quarterback in the school’s storied history (Kellen Moore); its leading rusher (Doug Martin); leading receiver in yards and touchdowns (Tyler Shoemaker) along with another starter at the position; three starting offensive linemen; the top four tacklers from 2012; and the entire starting defensive line. To say the Broncos will be a bit wet behind the ears this season would serve as a massive understatement.

The Unknown
Just how the Broncos will replace the on-field production and, perhaps more importantly, the off-field leadership Moore brought to the table will likely be the most significant factor in determining if Boise State can win 10-plus games for the seventh consecutive season under Petersen.  Joe Southwick is expected to emerge from the four-man competition and grab hold of the unenviable task of stepping into Moore’s immense shoes.  Certainly having some experience returning at receiver and along the line and will help ease the transition for Southwick — or whomever earns the starting job.  Unfortunately for the Broncos, there will be a very steep learning curve for the signal caller.

Make-or-break game: at Michigan State, Aug. 31
Yep, with all of the greenness at nearly every position, Boise will open the season against hands-down the most talented team they will see all year long during the regular season– and on the road, no less.  The rest of the non-conference schedule (Miami of Ohio, BYU and Southern Miss) will be manageable, while the conference slate is a multi-layered cupcake.  The game against the Spartans, however, will show whether the Broncos are ready to maintain its presence on the national stage — or if they’ll take a one-year hiatus as they gain some much-needed experience.

Heisman hopeful: None
With Moore and Martin out of the picture, there’s no one on the Broncos’ roster, at least at this point in time, who would merit even a leaping, stretching inclusion.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

Mountain West preview, vote

Florida’s statement on Jim McElwain’s death-threat claim is interesting, to say the least

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Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something.  Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.

Losers of two in a row and off to a 3-3 start to the season,  Florida has underperformed and underwhelmed to say the least.  So much so, in fact, that head coach Jim McElwain indicated Monday that he, his family, his coaching staff and players have been subjected to death threats by unknown individuals.

The head coach went into no detail publicly regarding the nature of the threats.  Apparently, it was the same privately when discussing the situation with his employer.

OK then.

Again, it could be in the same neighborhood as naked shark humping — nothing. Bears watching, though, as one very outspoken member of the Florida media is very much already doing publicly about a situation that was apparently reported to the media before it was reported to the police or even the university.

LOOK: Arizona State to wear Pat Tillman-themed uniforms

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Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.

The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.

Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.

Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.

“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”

Jim McElwain says family, players have received death threats over 3-3 start

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Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.

How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.

“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”

In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.

Report: Sam Darnold expected to return to USC in 2018

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Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.

One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.

While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.

On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.

Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.