BOISE STATE FOOTBALL: Five things to watch as Broncos enter fall camp

BOISE — It’s the start of a new year for the Boise State football team.
The Broncos will take the field Wednesday morning as they open fall camp on the 2023 season. After spring ball and an offseason of workouts, Boise State gets a chance to put everything together.
“They’re excited to turn this page,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “They put in so much work and they have been as consistent as I have seen in a long time this summer.”
Boise State has exactly a month to go before its season opener on Sept. 2 at Washington. With the Broncos getting started, here are five things to watch in fall camp.
1. WHO WILL BE THE BACKUP QUARTERBACK?Nobody is suggesting that Boise State will go through the same early season drama it did at quarterback last season. But the Broncos found out last year just how important it is to always have someone ready to go.
Four-year starter Hank Bachmeier entered the transfer portal after four games last season and then-redshirt freshman Taylen Green stepped in and carried Boise State to a Mountain West Championship Game appearance.
Now with Green solidified as the starter, the question is who will back him up.
The two leading candidates are redshirt freshman Maddux Madsen and true freshman CJ Tiller. Madsen showed off his talents in Boise State’s spring game with 97 yards on 8 of 10 passing. Tiller was ranked as one of the top-40 high school quarterbacks in last season’s recruiting class by 247Sports.
Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said there is an open competition between the two for the job.
“Those two guys have done a great, great job,” Hamdan said. “We’re excited about their competition.”
2. WHAT ROLE WILL THE TRANSFERS ON DEFENSE HAVE?Boise State went into the transfer portal to beef up its defense this offseason.
The Broncos have at least four defensive transfers who could see significant time on the field this season, and possibly even get an opportunity to start.
Up front, the Broncos added Sheldon Newton, who started nine games at Northern Arizona last season, while Howard Brown comes over from Iowa State, where he played six games last season on defense and special teams.
With Scott Matlock now in the NFL, the Broncos will look to fill that spot and Newton and Brown, who are both listed at 300 pounds or more, should be considered prime candidates.
“So far with those two, there have been zero issues,” defensive line coach Erik Chinander said. “With transfer guys you’re always wondering ‘what’s he going to be like,’ especially when it’s not practice time or game time. Those guys have done everything asked of them, they put in extra work, they put in extra time, they want to contribute and help this team.”
In the defensive backfield, Boise State has two more transfers.
A’Marion McCoy, a transfer from Laney Junior College in Oakland, played with the first-team corners in Boise State’s spring game and was able to keep up with the Broncos’ deep wide receiver group.
“He’s got to prove that he’s going to grow in the areas that we’ve asked him to grow in, and he’s already done that, physically,” said cornerbacks coach Demario Warren. “He’s gained 16 pounds just in the time since he’s been here. So that was a big thing for us, not only can you be physical, but can you put that body armor on to sustain that physical. He really had a great spring and now we’re excited to see what he can do in fall camp.”
Wisconsin transfer Titus Toler will start the season as Seyi Oladipo’s backup at nickel, but safeties coach Kane Ioane said Toler has the versatility to play multiple positions in the backfield.
“He’s one of those guys who knows football very well,” Ioane said. “He’s coming from a really good program, played a lot of good defense over there. He bought some good basic knowledge. And his ability to transfer his knowledge into what we’re doing is going to add to more depth and versatility.”
3. COMPLETING THE OFFENSIVE LINEFour of the five starting offensive line positions figure to be spoken for, as Cade Beresford, Garrett Curran and Mason Rudolph each started at least 10 games last season, and Ben Dooley saw significant playing time in a backup role.
Who will take the left tackle role remains the question.
Offensive line coach Tim Keane pointed to Virginia Tech transfer Nikolai Bujnowski as someone who could grab that spot. Avalos mentioned Kage Casey, Ethan Carde, Roger Carreon and Rick Moore as possibilities.
In other words, it’s still an open race.
“We’re trying to give our guys opportunities to surprise us and show us what they can do,” said Keane. “They work so hard in the winter and spring time and fall. Some of these guys have changed their body and added good weight. They’ve increased all their numbers in the weight room. It will be exciting to see the level of competition.”
DJ Schramm will likely be a focal point on the Bronco defense this year as the sixth-year linebacker led the team in tackles last season, with 110, and started all 14 games.
Who is going to line up next to him is a bit of a question.
Right now, sophomore Andrew Simpson, who played in all 14 games and started in three when Ezekiel Noa went down with an injury, appears to be the leading candidate.
“Drew got a ton of experience down the stretch,” Avalos said. “That allowed him to propel himself forward. But it still comes down to that process, being an everyday guy, coming into the building and knowing that this is the expectation.”
Avalos pointed to sophomore Marco Notarainni as someone who was on his way to becoming a contributor at linebacker before an injury at New Mexico the second game of the season ended his year. Redshirt Freshmen Dishawn Misa and Jake Ripp will likely also be competing for playing time.
Like Schramm at linebacker, Riley Smith is a sixth-year senior whose spot at tight end is secure.
But Boise State traditionally likes to play multiple tight ends and with the graduation of Kurt Rafdal, there is a spot that needs to be filled.
Outside of Smith, sophomore Matt Lauter is the only tight end on Boise State’s current roster who saw the field last year. He had four catches for 40 yards. Three of those catches came in the regular season finale against Utah State.
“It’s certainly a group we’ve got to develop talent at and develop depth at,” said Hamdan.
Redshirt freshman Austin Terry and sophomore Luke Voorhees were other guys that Hamdan pointed to being in the mix.

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