Here is who you can expect to be Boise State’s key players for their matchup against Ole Miss on Aug. 28 at the Georgia Dome.
Donte Deayon Jr. Cornerback: Hugh Freeze’s quest to revamp the Ole Miss offense was made a whole lot easier once he found Bo Wallace. Since Wallace took over as the starting quarterback in 2012, the Rebels have gone an impressive 15-11 with an SEC slate that would decimate the schedules of most teams.
Despite the impressive resume, Wallace has a major flaw in his game that could easily be exploited by a ball-hawking Bronco’s secondary. While Wallace has provided Ole Miss with a savvy, tough leader, once he starts making mistakes, things tend to go downhill for the Rebels. In all six where Wallace has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns since becoming the starter, Ole Miss has failed to walk away with a win.
Boise State has the perfect man in Donte Deayon to exploit this flaw. Few cornerbacks were better than Deayon at forcing turnovers last year. Only a sophomore, Deayon was tied for seventh nationally with six interceptions. If he can sustain this trend and force Wallace to make mistakes, he gives Boise State some much needed second chances on offense.
Marcus Henry: R-Jr. Center: The Broncos are going to need every single opportunity on offense because they’re going to be facing pressure all night long in Atlanta. Offensive line woes spelled disaster for Boise State, and this season things don’t look to be any better. Henry and fellow redshirt junior Rees Odhimabo are the only returning linemen who started more than three games last season. The Broncos’ inexperience along the offensive line is made worse by the fact Henry will be moving from right guard to center this season.
With CJ Johnson and Robert and Denzel Nkemdiche breathing down your helmet from across the line of scrimmage, Henry is going to be called upon all night to provide some sort of protection for Jay Ajayi and Grant Hedrick. If Henry fails to stop the oncoming train of the Rebel’s defense, Boise State can expect another 38-6 trashing to open their season.
Grant Hedrick R-Sr. Quarterback: The keys to Albertsons Stadium now lie in the hands of Grant Hedrick. Fortunately for him, there’s not a whole lot he has to do to break free from the humble shadow of Joe Southwick. Unfortunately for Broncos fans, he’s an above-average quarterback that’s about to be thrown into a Kellen Moore situation.
Last season, Hedrick made starts in Provo, Fort Collins, San Diego and Honolulu. Hardly any can compare to going toe-to-toe with an SEC school in Atlanta. Although officially a neutral-site game, make no mistake, you can expect to see the crimson and blue of Ole Miss outnumber the blue and orange of Bronco Nation.
For Boise State to put up a fight in their season opener, Hedrick is going to have to remain calm and poised in order to lead a veteran Boise State offense into the end zone. Aside from the offensive line and depth at running back, Hedrick is the weakest link for the Broncos on offense. If he falters, the whole unit will collapse.