NCF Nation: Jeremy Avery

Really tough news for Boise State running back D.J. Harper. For the second straight year, Harper has torn the ACL in his left knee and is out for the season.

Harper was injured against Oregon State last week, but he did return to the game. Tests showed the tear in the same knee he hurt last year, the school said Tuesday. He also got hurt in the third game of last season and redshirted.

This season, Harper had 160 yards and two touchdowns behind Doug Martin, who has emerged as the starting running back. Luckily, Boise State has depth at the position. Jeremy Avery will now assume a greater role with Harper out.

Boise State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
2009 overall record: 14-0

2009 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters
Offense: 10, defense 10, punter/kicker 2

Top returners
QB Kellen Moore, OL Nate Potter, DE Ryan Winterswyk, DT Billy Winn, S Jeron Johnson, WR Titus Young, RB Jeremy Avery, CB Brandyn Thompson, WR Austin Pettis, S Winston Venable

Key losses
CB Kyle Wilson, TE Richie Brockel, OL Kevin Sapien

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Jeremy Avery * (1,151 yards)
Passing: Kellen Moore * (3,536 yards)
Receiving: Titus Young * (1,041 yards)
Tackles: Jeron Johnson * (91 Total; 54 UA, 37 Asst)
Sacks: Ryan Winterswyk * (9.0 sacks/48 yards)
Interceptions: Brandyn Thompson * (6 INT, 67 Yards, 1 TD)

Spring Answers

1. Filling in for Wilson: The only void in the secondary is the one left at cornerback by first-round draft pick Kyle Wilson. There’s an abundance of young talent available, including Jerrell Gavins, Jamar Taylor and Ebo Makinde, who had a terrific spring.

2. Depth at receiver: Boise State returns four receivers who had 20 or more catches last year, but this spring was about the development of young players such as sophomores Chris Potter and Mitch Burroughs and freshmen Aaron Burks and Geraldo Hiwat. The Broncos have mainstays in Austin Pettis, Titus Young and Tyler Shoemaker, but these young players, including Kirby Moore, will give the Broncos even more depth.

3. D-line looks strong: The Boise State defensive line was one of the best in the country last season and should be just as good, if not better, in 2010. During scrimmages this spring, the defensive line got pressure on Moore and forced him into uncharacteristic mistakes. While there were some injuries on the line, it should be better and deeper than 2009.

Fall Questions

1. What to do with the running backs? The Broncos have nine running backs who could fight for time this year. Nine. But realistically, Jeremy Avery, Doug Martin and D.J. Harper will be the main backs while the others sit or fight for carries. This isn’t anything new. Boise State has had multiple backs before; it’s just a matter of determining how to divvy up the carries.

2. Offensive line shuffle: The good thing about playing so many offensive linemen the past couple of years is that there is no lack of depth. However, there could be a lack of consistency, which is why the Broncos are trying to settle on a permanent offensive line. It didn’t help that some of the main guys were out this spring, but the Broncos should have a nice group from which to choose.

3. Replicating special teams: The Broncos have had great special teams for quite some time, but with Kyle Wilson gone, the Broncos need a new threat to fill the void. Titus Young was great on kick returns and Chris Potter can help out with punts. Doug Martin and Jerrell Gavins also will be options on returns.
Some of the best players to watch in 2010 are from the non-automatic qualifying conferences.

TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, SMU quarterback Kyle Padron, Houston receiver James Cleveland and Boise State running back Jeremy Avery will be among nine returning players to receive the Touchdown Club of Columbus' Award of Distinction during their awards banquet on Feb. 6.

Dalton led the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 season and the school’s first-ever BCS bowl berth. Padron, a true freshman who stepped into the starting role in the middle of the season, helped the Mustangs to their first bowl game since 1984 and threw for a school-record 460 yards and two touchdowns in the Hawaii Bowl. Cleveland, Houston’s top receiver, ranked third in the country in receptions per game and eighth in yards per game. He finished with 104 catches for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first season in the FBS. Avery was the Broncos leading rusher with 209 carries for 1,150 yards and six rushing touchdowns. It was his first 1,000-yard season in his first full year as the starter.

Pittsburgh receiver Jonathan Baldwin, and Ohio State linebacker Brian Rolle, defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, and receivers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher also received the award.

The Touchdown Club of Columbus was spot-on with its awards of distinction a year ago, naming both Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and Houston quarterback Case Keenum among the players to watch. Both had out standing seasons and finished in the Heisman voting. Ball State running back MiQuale Lewis, who also received the award last year, was one of the bright spots on a losing team with 871 yards and five touchdowns.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Boise State players and coaches have noted several things that led to the Broncos 17-16 loss to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl last year, but one of the main concerns was the Broncos inability to run the ball.

Boise State had 28 yards on 20 carries and 20 of those yards came on one run by former back Ian Johnson. Boise State came into that game averaging more than 150 yards rushing on the season and the trio of Johnson, Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper had rushed for more that 200 yards in four games that season, including 248 in the regular season finale against Fresno State.

“We obviously didn’t run the ball very well last year and this year, that was one of our goals,” Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “We did. We improved from where we were last year quite a bit and that just opens up everything else that we do.”

This season, Boise State comes in averaging 194 rushing yards and although Johnson has graduated and Harper has been out most of the season with a knee injury, Avery and Doug Martin, who was moved from defense back to running back, have helped the Broncos become a better rushing threat.

“Our running game will have a really big impact on the game,” Avery said. “It’s hard going as a team like that and we’ve got to hone in as a unit and try to get that thing done.”

Boise State will test their running skills against one of the nation’s best rushing defenses. The Horned Frogs have allowed 80.50 rushing yards per game and have allowed just one team to gain more than 118 rushing yards on them this season. Air Force had 229 rushing yards, but had just 287 total yards, one of the Falcons lowest offensive outputs of the year.

Harsin said he’s stressed to his running backs the importance of establishing some semblance of a running game in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos were one-dimensional a year ago and it was part of the reason they lost.

“They’re a smart defense, and if we become one-dimensional, it’s going to be difficult for us to do anything.” Harsin said. “We have to stay balanced, we have to run the football, we’ve got to find ways to get it to our backs because our two running backs, those are two of our best players, and we’ve got to find ways to get them the football. I think those guys, if they get an opportunity, they can make things happen.”

Avery leads the Broncos with 1,130 yards and six touchdowns and Martin has added 723 yards and 14 scores. Avery said there’s not one defense the Broncos have played this season that compares to what they’ll see from TCU. He said the Horned Frogs are pieces of several defenses the Broncos have seen this year -- mostly the best pieces.

“They play as one, they play as a unit,” Avery said. “Everybody is to the ball. So it’s like a game by inches. If you see a seam, you’ve got to hit it as fast as you can. You can’t run side to side with this team because they’re all fast and they’re all aggressive. They all want to get to the ball.”

Boise State midseason review

October, 20, 2009
Posted by’s Graham Watson


Boise State is ranked No. 4 in the BCS standings, the highest ranked nonautomatic-qualifying team in the country. The Broncos don’t have any ranked teams remaining on their schedule and currently they have just one team with a winning schedule -- Idaho -- remaining, which could help them go undefeated this year. However, the weak schedule might cost the Broncos some points in the computer rankings, but the Broncos can’t worry about that. All they need to do to stay in the race for a BCS bowl berth is keep winning.

Offensive MVP

Kellen Moore, QB: There’s been no sophomore slump for Moore, who came into this season with a ton of hype after a stellar freshman campaign. Moore leads the nation in passing efficiency and has been steady in all of the Broncos games so far. He’s already thrown for 1,404 yards and 16 touchdowns and has just two interceptions.

Defensive MVP

Ryan Winterswyk, DE: Winterswyk put up great numbers last year and was off to a slow start this season until last week’s game against Tulsa when he broke out with two sacks and three tackles for loss. Winterswyk has been key in the Broncos defense holding opponents to just 277.33 yards per game.

Get to know: Boise State

October, 14, 2009

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Boise State is consistently in the Top 25, and of late has been a staple in the top 10, but few people outside of its fan base really know anything about the team or many of its players. As the Broncos head into tonight’s pivotal game against Tulsa, here are a couple of facts to familiarize yourself with Boise State.

  • Record: 5-0, 1-0 WAC
  • Coach: Chris Petersen (40-4)
  • Offensive formation: Multiple
  • Defensive formation: Multiple
  • Signature: Blue home FieldTurf
  • Notable: Boise State has appeared in the AP poll for eight consecutive seasons. Its highest ranking during the regular season was reaching No. 5 this year. It’s highest ranking in the final AP poll is No. 5 in 2006.
 AP Photo/Matt Cilley
 Quarterback Kellen Moore is completing almost 70 percent of his passes this season.
Kellen Moore, QB, So.
  • Moore is a cool character in the pocket. He’s not easily rattled and usually hangs in to make his throws. He’s also mobile, and has a knack for sensing and getting out of trouble. He’s completed 92 of 132 passes for 1,217 yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Last season, he was named the WAC Freshman of the Year and was a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association.
  • Petersen quotable: "Kellen is doing a nice job in managing our offense. He has been very accurate and doing a very nice job in finding the open receivers."
Austin Pettis, WR, Jr.
  • Pettis became the go-to receiver after three of the top four receivers from last season graduated. He’s stepped into the role nicely and provided leadership both on and off the field. He’s become Moore’s favorite target with 28 catches for 378 yards and six touchdowns. Pettis has had two 100-yard games and at least one touchdown in every game this season.
  • Petersen quotable: "Austin is the most sure-handed receiver we have had at Boise State in a long time. He continues to make the tough catches and he has become our go-to guy."
Jeremy Avery, RB, Jr.
  • Avery is the team’s leading rusher and primary back ever since co-starter D.J. Harper was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Avery has 71 carries for 441 yards, but just one touchdown this season. Doug Martin, who is filling in for Harper, has four touchdowns. Avery is a shifty back with great vision and breakaway speed, which makes him difficult to catch in the open field.
  • Petersen quotable: "Jeremy has done a good job in finding the creases and exploding through the line. We need him to continue to do that throughout the season."

Kyle Wilson, CB, Sr.
  • Wilson is the team’s best player and star defender. He often draws the assignment of the opposing team’s best receiver and against Tulsa tonight that will probably be Damaris Johnson. Shockingly, Wilson has no interceptions after having five a year ago and he has no punt returns for touchdowns after having three last season. Much of this is because offenses have learned to throw and kick away from him to minimize his effectiveness.
  • Petersen quotable: "Kyle is the leader of our defense. He is playing very well and doing a nice job playing cornerback for us. In the kicking game [punt returns], he is making good decisions on his returns.”
Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Jr.
  • Winterswyk was an All-WAC first-teamer last season and led the team with 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. But his numbers haven’t been close to that this season. He still leads the team with three sacks and is second on the squad with five tackles for loss. Although the stats aren’t there midway through the season, Winterswyk is still one of the top leaders on the team.
  • Peterson quotable: "Ryan is the quiet leader. He leads by example, giving 100 percent in practice and in the game. While he may not have a lot of sacks, he is always around the quarterback.”

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Turning point: With 13 minutes remaining, Boise State running back Jeremy Avery caught a swing pass from quarterback Kellen Moore and he took it 67 yards for the score. It was just 26 seconds after Fresno State had cut the lead to 7 points. After that play, the Boise State defense tightened and sealed the game.

Stat of the game: Five of the game’s 10 touchdowns came off rushing plays of 60 or more yards. Three came from Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews. Overall, both team’s running backs combined for eight rushing or return plays of 60 or more yards.

Player of the game: Boise State running back Jeremy Avery would not let Fresno State back in the game. Every time the Bulldogs cut it close, Avery broke a big run either off a pass or in the rushing game. His best runs came in the fourth quarter -- on one he found the end zone and the other set up a field goal to put the Broncos up three scores.

Player of the game II: Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews had a career-high 234 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. His previous high was 171 during his freshman season in 2007. It was Mathews who continually kept the Bulldogs within striking distance especially when the passing game was nonexistent in the first half. His rushing threat also allowed the passing game to thrive in the second half.

What it means: Boise State stays alive in their quest for an undefeated season and a possible BCS berth. Fresno State might be one of the last teams on Boise State's schedule that's able to keep pace with the Broncos. For the Bulldogs, this is the second consecutive tough loss and it puts them in a 1-2 hole in a pivotal year for coach Pat Hill.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

BOISE, Idaho -- As the traditional crowd chant of “overrated” started to fill Bronco Stadium at the end of Thursday’s 19-8 Boise State win over Oregon, all I could think was it was so true.

The "epic" matchup between No. 14 Boise State and No. 16 Oregon was supposed to be a classic way to start the season. Instead it was a rocky Boise State team beating up on a dysfunctional Oregon team in a game that ended with punches being thrown.

The game was epic, but more for its postgame melee than the play on the field.

How many believed Oregon was a Top 10 team let alone Top 20 is beyond me, and a glaring example of why preseason polls are ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, Boise State played well -- at times -- but Oregon was not the competition that the Broncos had been preparing for all summer, which was mildly disappointing.

Here are a couple things I took away from the game:
  • Kellen Moore was sharp in the game especially early. Not sure what happened on the ball that slipped out of his hand and I’m sure he was as upset about it as anyone. He was out of sync with his receivers a couple times, but he did a nice job of reading the defense and finding the gaping holes. Boise State probably should have had a couple more touchdowns, but for an opening game it wasn’t a bad start to the season.
  • The running game was cause for concern in the first half, but in the second it really came on with 112 yards as opposed to 54 in the first half. Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said he liked the two-headed attack of D.J. Harper and Jeremy Avery and said they worked best when they got carries in chunks and were able to gain a rhythm.
  • I was a little shocked about the number of turnovers Thursday. There was about a 10-minute stretch between the third and fourth quarters where the two teams combined for five turnovers. Boise State ranked 82nd in the country last season with 26 turnovers. Of those, 16 were fumbles. The Broncos have a three-fumble head start on 2009.
  • The Boise State defense was an unexpected surprise. Granted, some of their success was because of Oregon’s ineptitude, but as coach Chris Petersen said, it’s a confidence builder and that’s all the team was looking for. And holding a dynamic offense like Oregon’s to just 14 yards and no first downs in the first half is pretty amazing no matter how you slice it.

It’s unfortunate that this game will mostly be remembered because of the fist of Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount. His actions are still shocking, and let’s be honest, Boise State’s Byron Hout wasn’t guiltless in the altercation. Chris Petersen was pulling him away for a reason when Blount sucker-punched him. There have been a lot of words since last year’s game and it boiled over into a terrible situation. It will be interesting to see if any punishment is handed down on the Boise State side.

But fisticuffs aside, Boise State should be proud of its effort and relived to get the first one under its belt. There’s no doubt that this will only paint a big blue bulls-eye on the Broncos’ backs for the rest of the season, but how is that any different than past seasons?

Posted by’s Graham Watson

BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State has not taken its foot off the gas. It came out of the locker room and added another touchdown.

It was good to see the score come on the ground because the Boise State running backs had been pretty quiet this evening. Obviously, there was a little concern about the Broncos' running game coming into this season with Ian Johnson gone, but D.J. Harper and Jeremy Avery have found their legs early in the second half.

Through the first half, the Broncos had 28 carries for 52 yards. They had 56 rushing yards on the first drive of the second half and Harper scored the first rushing touchdown of the season.