No Mountain West title. Back-to-back losses at home. Three losses in conference. It can be assumed the Boise State Broncos (8-4) are ready to learn from their mistakes and move onto preparation for next season.
Yes, there is still one more game for this season’s team. A likely invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl is on the horizon for the 2015 Boise State team. A game in which the Broncos will attempt to go out winners, especially for those seniors playing their last game.
Boise State has been to the Poinsettia Bowl once before, losing 17-16 to TCU in 2008.
It has been a disappointing season, at least by Boise State standards over the past 15 years. It may even be rivaled (or worse) than the 8-5 campaign in 2013. The conference losses certainly make it feel worse, especially those suffered at home.
Despite this, there is plenty good to take away from this season. A victory over Coach Petersen and the Washington Huskies. A road victory over an ACC team, albeit an ACC team that struggled. Another winning season, Boise State’s 18th consecutive season with a record above .500.
Blame can be assigned to leaky offensive lines, uninspired performances, turnovers, and questionable play calling (on both offense and defense).
All of these are valid points, but in the end wins and losses are the responsibility of players and coaches alike. The team wins and the team loses.
Of course, there are individuals that stand out during the course of the season. Moments have been disappointing in this season, but there are individuals that should be recognized as we enjoy these few weeks before the college season wraps up. Individuals that have been singled out for much of the year and have rightfully earned the recognition.
The Broncos, even with this “down ” year, still managed to average 37 points and 488.9 yards of offense per game this season.
One of the main cogs that drove the offensive machine was sophomore running back Jeremy McNichols.
Coming into the season, McNichols had shown flashes of his talent as a true freshman. It was still unknown if he could handle a heavy workload and it was assumed by many that he would be part of a running game by committee this season at Boise State.
McNichols handled the workload and then some. He has run for 1,244 yards and 18 touchdowns, scoring a rushing touchdown in 11 consecutive games, a Mountain West Conference record. McNichols has also added 46 receptions for 364 and 5 touchdowns.
The 23 total touchdowns are currently first in the nation. And this was all done while sitting out a game.
Not to be out done, junior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck also entered his name into the record books. His 1,334 receiving yards are currently a single season record. Sperbeck’s 82 receptions are only six behind Matt Miller for the single season record. Sperbeck also now has the single game record for receptions and yards, 20 and 281, respectively.
Both of these single game numbers are also tops in the FBS this season. Sperbeck was rewarded for his efforts on Tuesday with a selection to the All-Mountain West first-team offense.
The man throwing Sperbeck the ball wasn’t even going to play this year. Brett Rypien appeared headed to a redshirt season before Ryan Finley’s injury. From there, the freshman made a name for himself, in good times and bad.
Rypien was named Freshman of the Year in the Mountain West and was also named to the first-team offense. He threw for 2,973 yards with 17 touchdowns.
It was seven interceptions that stuck with Rypien, partially contributing to Boise State’s three conference losses. (Though it should be noted the Broncos didn’t commit a turnover against Air Force). Rypien showed great resiliency, often taking numerous hits from defenders. He got up, brushed it off, and only sporadically looked like the true freshman he is.
The good news? Not only will fans get to see them together one more time this season, all three of these players will return next season.
The Broncos defense went from dominating saviors at the start of the season to bumbling goats by time the regular season ended.
A propensity for giving up the big play was the downfall of this unit. Still, overall it was a solid season, highlighted by several players.
Darian Thompson and Donte Deayon were an intimidating pair that roamed the secondary. They combined for nine interceptions and nearly 100 tackles, with Thompson even setting a new Mountan West record with 19 career interceptions.
Thompson was selected to the first-team All Mountain West defense while Deayon made the second team.
Trouble was, injuries forced the pair to miss five total games, playing together in only seven games. Both are seniors and hopefully Thompson is healthy enough to play one last game come bowl time.
Ben Weaver, Tanner Vallejo, Tyler Gray, and Joe Martarano all enjoyed outstanding seasons. Though the linebackers were much maligned for the yardage put up by New Mexico and Air Force, the fact is, without these four those losses might have been even worse.
Though tackles are an unofficial stat, according to ESPN Weaver has 66, Vallejo has 57, Martarano has 48, and Gray had 46. Weaver added three interceptions, all coming in the last three games.
All except Gray should be back next season, providing hope for an even stronger presence against the run next season.
Rest up, get healthy, pass those finals, and have fun. Then take care of business one last time for the season. It’s not the Fiesta Bowl, but hey, it’s a bowl game and a winning season. Two things to always be proud of.
*For a complete list of the Mountain West All-Conference teams, click here.