- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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That means for the first time in a long while, major positions are open for competition. Here is a quick preview of what to watch for the Broncos.
Spring changes: Boise State lost is offensive coordinator yet again, as Brent Pease left to take a job with Florida. In comes Robert Prince, who will continue to coach the receivers. What coach Chris Petersen has done to help mitigate the losses is promote from within, a system that has served him well over the past several seasons. Boise State will continue to run its offensive scheme, as no wholesale changes are expected. The Broncos also have three new position coaches: defensive line coach Andy Avalos, defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, and quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith.
But the personnel changes are what folks are going to notice most, heading into the spring, as Boise State returns just 10 starters. Here are some position battles to watch:
Quarterback. You are going to be hearing a lot more about this throughout the course of the spring and the fall. Moore led Boise State to uncharted heights, and became the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history. Now that he is gone, four players are competing to win the starting job: backup Joe Southwick; sophomore Grant Hedrick; redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea; highly touted true freshman Nick Patti. All four are more mobile than Moore, but don't expect the Broncos to morph into a Wildcat team. Patti has drawn the most comparisons to Moore. To ease the pressure, Petersen has made all four off-limits to interviews this spring.
Defensive line. All four starters are gone, leaving the Broncos in a serious bind. And it is not as if the four starters they are losing were slackers. All four were major contributors to a line that has been solid for several years. Tyrone Crawford, McClellin, Billy Winn and Chase Baker are out. Those four combined for 36.5 tackles for loss and and 16.5 sacks (Boise State only had a total of 24). Valuable backup Jarrell Root is gone, leaving inexperienced players like Tyler Horn, Darren Koontz, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Robert Ash and Jeff Worthy.
Secondary. This was a group that was hit hard by injuries last season, and now will be hit hard again with the loss of George Iloka, Cedric Febis, Travis Stanaway and Hunter White. The good news is Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor are slated to return, so that should help the cornerbacks. But safety is an area of concern going into spring, and players like Jeremy Ioane, Darian Thompson and Hazen Moss -- among others -- have to step up.