BOISE -- With a faithful Bronco Nation following the team's every move, the Boise State Broncos aim to please as they head into a 2012 season of unknowns.
Sure, there's a roster full of unproven recruits, but there's also no question that fresh talents and new strengths are set to emerge from this growing group.
Many wonder: Can a new Boise State quarterback thrive in the legacy of former quarterback Kellen Moore?
Who else will step up, and will they shine as the team's rising stars?
In short, who should we expect to lead Boise State in this crucial year of rebuilding?
Life after the Kellen era won't be easy... But if one thing is certain, it is inevitable.
Leading this quartet of quarterbacks is junior Joe Southwick who will be the team's 2012 starter, and hopes to fill the shoes of Kellen Moore. Grant Hedrick will play second-string. Redshirt sophomore Jimmy Laughrea and true freshman Nick Patti will be on standby.
A season ago, they were the the biggest question mark on the offensive side of the ball, and now they offer one of the few proven commodities for this team.
Seniors Mitch Burroughs and Chris Potter are now the acting elders of Boise State's 2012 O-line. However, preseason All-Mountain-West selection Matt Miller is looking to lead by example this year after setting the freshman school-record with 62 catches and 9 TD's just a year ago.
Depth and versatility won't be an issue either here, either. That's because Kirby Moore is a solid route runner, while Aaron Burks, Dallas Burroughs and Troy Ware can also stretch the field.
Add in the speedy true freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes, along with a trio of tight ends, and Boise State won't lack options when is comes to pass catchers this fall.
In the eyes of coach Pete, the D-line is the biggest unknown for the 2012 Broncos' team.
The reason: outgoing seniors Shea McClellin, Billy Winn, Tyrone Crawford, Jarrell Root and Chase Baker are all getting a shot in the NFL.
That means this defense is hoping to reload, rather than rebuild, new leadership.
On the inside, Greg Grimes, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Darren Koontz and Mike Atkinson will return. On the outside, transfer Demarcus Lawrence joins the athletic Sam Ukuwauku, the battle tested Tyler Horn and the tenacious Beau Martin.
With plenty to prove in the way of stepping-up to the challenge, this group may not be a bunch of household names, but it also may only be a matter of time before that changes.
The line-backing corp will also feature some new faces, but still offers guys with plenty of experience. Tommy Smith will take over as middle linebacker, as he saw action in 12 games last year.
JC Percy also brings plenty a lot of game time reps to the table, as well as a hard work mentality that is noticed by his teammates. At Nickelback, Jonathan Brown, Dextrell Simmons and Corey Bell will all look to add to mix.
JC Percy leads the returners in tackles with 48, and also had a forced fumble in 2011. Tommy Smith steps in to the middle linebacker spot with 18 tackles from last year. However, Jonathan Brown leads the three with experience at the Nickel Back position. Brown also had 19 tackles and a forced fumble in 2011.
Led by seniors Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor, the defensive backfield enters this fall with a certain swagger. It's an attitude that sets the tone for the rest of the defense -- with youngsters Chaz Anderson and Deon'tae Florence making an immediate impression.
Another factor: new secondary coach Jimmy Lake is now pushing the team to be more aggressive.
Unlike last year, depth doesn't look to be an issue with this part of the team. True freshman Chaz Anderson has been a pleasant surprise, while sophomore transfer Deon'tae Florence is full of play-making ability. On top of that, free safety Lee Hightower is now a year older and strong safety Jeremy Ioane is a year wiser.With all this in mind, this group will look to solidify the defense this fall.
The Broncos' field goal kicking game has been an area of concern for fans and head coach Chris Petersen since last season. With a number of missed field goals and extra points by both Michael Frisina and Dan Goodale, Petersen said recently that he would stick to his plan from last year.
“Nothing has changed on the kicker thing," Peterson said. "If we can't make field goals, we're going to go for it. And if we can make them, then we'll figure out where we feel comfortable from and we'll kick from there.”
Petersen went onto say that he has seen improvement in both of his kickers, but added that he would like to see more before he felt comfortable. “I do think we're making a little bit of progress. I think Mike Frisina, I can see some growth there. Dan Goodale at times shows really good flashes. It's just all about consistency.”
Frisina is the number one kicker on the depth chart going into Boise State’s season opener against Michigan State.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR COACH PETE?
Coach Pete sat down with KTVB's Mark Johnson, and here's what Peterson had to say about the team's future, as well as his own.
GAME 1 DEPTH CHART
Check out the Broncos' offensive depth chart going into game 1 of the regular season against Michigan State.
KTVB WILL TELEVISE BRONCOS / NEW MEXICO GAME
KTVB is proud to announce that game four of the Broncos' regular season will be televised live on KTVB, Idaho's News Channel 7.
Boise State will play against New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 29. Kick-off is at 4 p.m. M.S.T.