The midpoint of the Boise State Broncos regular season has arrived. Which means it’s time for the 2nd annual midseason awards spectacular.
Contributions for the Broncos this season have been a team-wide effort. From senior linebacker Darren Lee sliding into a starting role to sophomore receiver A.J. Richardson catching his first touchdown pass, the Broncos are utilizing the talents of numerous players.
At 6-0 and ranked 14th in both polls, Boise State has bounced back nicely from their four-loss season of a year ago. It hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk–often being their own worst enemy–but the fact remains the loss column still holds a zero in it.
It’s still too early to get excited, but in a season honoring the 2007 Fiesta Bowl winners, Boise State could be on track for another major bowl berth. Here are a few of the standouts of this season’s team.
Two weeks ago, this might have been shared between Jeremy McNichols and Thomas Sperbeck. Given his performance last Saturday against Colorado State, the nod is given to McNichols.
A school record of 40 carries by McNichols, for 217 yards and two touchdowns, exemplifies what the running back has done for Boise State the past two seasons. He puts the load on his shoulders when called upon, especially in the second-half this season. McNichols has over 100 yards more rushing in the second-half (444 to 331) while seeing his average yards per carry rise to 5.7 (from 4.6)
The junior running back has also scored a touchdown in 18 straight games, third most in the past ten seasons and trailing only Montee Ball (21) and Derrick Henry (20).
— Campus Insiders (@CampusInsiders) October 16, 2016
McNichols has 775 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns this season. He has also caught 20 passes for 263 yards and three scores.
The 14 total touchdowns rank him second in the nation, behind Lamar Jackson (15). McNichols is also tied for second with Donnel Pumphrey for rushing touchdowns and tied for ninth in rushing yards.
Given the overall play of the defense this season, it’s the front seven (and various players within) that garner this award.
As a unit, the defense is allowing only 19.3 points per game. The Broncos have 21 sacks, currently tied for 11th in the nation. And, despite facing heavy,run-oriented offenses the past two weeks, are holding opponents to 142 rushing yards per game.
All due partly to the play of the defensive line and linebackers.
The defensive line, one of the biggest question marks heading into the season, has thrived. Behind the play of David Moa (5.5 sacks), Jabril Frazier (4 sacks) and Sam McCaskill–among others–the line has been consistently solid through the first six games.
Ben Weaver (46 tackles), Tanner Vallejo (36 tackles) and Lee (36 tackles, 2.5 sacks) are the senior leaders of this defense and part of the reason the front seven has been the strength of this season’s defense.
The Unsung Hero
In a season in which the Broncos offense sometimes stalls, punter Sean Wale has helped tremendously in turning the game into one of field position.
Wale has punted 27 times this season for an average of 45 yards. He punted four times against Colorado St. for an average of 52.5 yards (with a long of 58).
The senior has been integral in multiple games this season for Boise State. He was named Mountain West Player of the Week after the victory at Oregon State.
The Throwback to 2007 Fiesta Bowl Gimmick Play
Statue left has become a staple in the playbook, especially since coach Bryan Harsin’s return. So that’s out.
Not sure “Fake Statue Left” is really a throwback play. Plus, it didn’t quite work, going for a loss of two yards.
And how many people out there were thinking that Colorado State was going to beat the Broncos with “Circus” on the day the University honored the 2007 Fiesta Bowl Champions?
That’s why it’s this pass from Sperbeck to Richardson that takes the honors.
WATCH | Thomas Sperbeck throws his 2nd TD pass of the season, hitting A.J. Richardson from 11 yards out! Broncos lead CSU, 28-3! pic.twitter.com/0L6uw64MRl
— Boise State Football (@BroncoSportsFB) October 16, 2016
Okay. Maybe not quite the same, but certainly close enough.
Sperbeck and his 38 receptions, 701 yards, and two touchdown passes. Cedrick Wilson with his 432 yards, five touchdowns and one touchdown pass. Tyler Horton, who has 13 tackles and one interception. A secondary allowing 228,7 passing yards per game. Coach Harsin’s excitement after blocked field goals. Chanceller James and Jonathan Moxey.