The Boise State Broncos (0-1, 0-0 in Mountain West) are looking to extract their revenge from a devastating opening season loss to the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans this Saturday against the Miami of Ohio Redhawks. While all was not awry for the Broncos two weeks ago, a few key players will be looking to breakout in this home opener.
Redshirt junior quarterback Joe Southwick
Bronco Nation seemed quick to blame Southwick for his lackluster performance against the premier Spartans in Spartan Stadium, one of the more noisier stadiums in the country. Yes, Southwick went 15-of-31 for 169 yards and a forced ball turned interception. However, there were glimpses of solid play from Southwick, such as his 40+ yard pass to receiver Matt Miller along the sidelines and his ability to scramble out of the pocket. It’s that kind of play-making ability Southwick needs to continually exhibit in order to get the wheels going on the Bronco offense. Southwick will have an ideal opportunity against a poor Redhawks secondary, and with the home crowd at his back, No. 16 has the chance to start somewhat fresh.
Sixth year running back D.J. Harper
Another blame game target for the opening season loss went to Harper and the non-existent run game. While the offensive line did not offer much support or gaps for Harper to take advantage of, carrying the ball 15 times for only eight yards is awful. For a player like Harper looking to redeem himself from two injury-ridden seasons, the running game needs to be recharged with him leading the pack. A positive note on Harper is that he lead the Broncos in the run game in the 2009 game against the Redhawks, carrying the ball 18 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. If Harper can find those skills he possessed a few years back against Miami, look out for a monster day from the veteran running back.
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Demarcus Lawrence
The Broncos did not record a sack on Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell, an unlikely stat for such a consistent defense in years past. With such a young group taking over the historic 2011-12 senior class, Lawrence will be the new face for the fresh defensive front. Against Michigan State, Lawrence recorded nine total tackles, half a tackle for a loss and continued to put pressure on Maxwell from the outside with two quarterback hits. The goose egg on the sacks will change Saturday afternoon and it could very well be led by Lawrence.