What and who to watch: Boise State fall scrimmage preview

BOISE -- The Boise State football team will hold their fall scrimmage on Friday at 6:30 p.m. MT at Albertsons Stadium.

This will be the first and last time before the season-opener for fans to see what the Broncos have been working on over the summer and throughout fall camp.

Is their improvement real?

Well, on offense, redshirt freshman tight end Jake Roh says the team, particularly the tight ends, have a much better understanding of the new playbook now than what they did in the spring.

"The playbook isn't as difficult," Roh explained. "It's the same stuff, it's just not as difficult as it was in the spring."

On the other side of the ball, the defense continues to preach a different mindset.

According to junior safety Darian Thompson, there is only one way to truly correct the defense. The same defense that in 2013, ranked 87th in passing yards allowed per game in the NCAA.

"Just take everything personal, really," Thompson said. "Especially being a defensive back, if there's a touchdown or a big play, it usually goes through us. We have to take that type of stuff personal."

The intersquad was described as a "non-scoring scrimmage" that will feature situational drives and special teams play.

Technically, there will not be a score that determines who wins on Friday, but in intersquad scrimmages, what determines a "winner"?

With that in mind, there are some individual performances worth keeping track of.

Here are the top 3 things to watch out for...

3. Who will emerage at the boundary cornerback position?

There has been a quiet battle going on at the cornerback position opposite of junior Donte Deayon. How serious? Well, the media has not been granted an interview request with Bryan Douglas, Jonathan Moxey or Mercy Maston during fall camp.

All three are competing for a starting spot at the boundary position.

As I said earlier, Boise State ranked 87th in pass defense in 2013. Deayon had six interceptions last season and, from the reaction of players and coaches throughout fall camp, he will be one of the leaders on this team in 2014.

At the safety positions, junior Darian Thompson and senior Jeremy Ioane have a wealth of experience, as do their backups - juniors Dillon Lukehart and Taylor Loffler.

There isn't much concern at safety.

The decision at boundary will be interesting. Senior Bryan Douglas got off to a great start in 2013 - four interceptions in the first six games, but faded down the stretch - zero in the final seven.

I favor him to emerge now that he is healthy again, but Moxey is intriguing and coaches have praised him since he arrived on campus.

In addition, he offers a little more size, something desirable for that specific position.

It seems they have options. Now it's time to find out.

2. Will the defense's new demeanor show?

Up front, the Broncos lack a player the caliber of DeMarcus Lawrence. The 34th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft led Boise State in sacks each of the last two seasons.

In 2014, the Broncos will try and replace his production by spreading it around.

So, are a number of good weapons more dangerous than a single elite one?

Again, it's time to find out.

Either way, new defensive line coach Steve Caldwell is demanding his position group goes out and attacks this season.

"We've got to get more physical - toughness at the point of attack," Caldwell explained. "I talk to the guys about that all the time. You want to be the guys (opponents) that feel like they've got to block twice."

"All of them have to have that same sense of urgency," Caldwell added. "If we're going to be good on defense, we have to be good up front. We harp that and we harp that."

1. What will the offense look like?

Throughout fall camp, and even back in the spring, the players have talked about the return of all the shifts and motions to the offense.

"I love this offense. I absolutely love it," boasted backup quarterback Ryan Finley early in fall camp. "I think what (Mike) Sanford is doing is unbelieveable. A little bit undercenter, all the shifts and motions."

"I absolutely love it."

During the Blue and Orange Spring Game back in April, the offense that was presented to the public was relatively vanilla - hardly any pre-snap movement.

"In the spring, it was there, we just weren't any good at it," joked head coach Bryan Harsin recently.

"Is everything we do in practice going to show up (tonight)?" Harsin continued, his tone more serious. "No, because it's an open scrimmage."

"You'll see enough. Will you see the total package? No," he reiterated.

Honestly, I understand that. It makes sense. With the Ole Miss game looming just 13 days away, why ruin the element of surprise.

But in my opinion, a little will be a lot at this scrimmage. I'm good with even a little.

Breakout players

Offense: Chaz Anderson, wide receiver
Over the offseason, Anderson switch sides of the ball. That transition has been smooth and Anderson appears ready to make an immediate impact.

In the limited time that the media has been allowed to watch practice, it seems like the ball has found Anderson. He will excite with his run after the catch ability, but I'm more interested in seeing his presence in the vertical passing game.

Defense: Kalamei Correa, defensive end
He had drawn praise in practice a number of times. At 6-3, 247 pounds, I think he is starting to come into his own. I wouldn't be surprised to see the coaches move him and sophomore defensive end Gabe Perez around in an effort to get them both on the field at the same time.

Other players to watch for (beside the obvious ones):

NT - Antoine Turner - The junior college transfer continues his transition into the NCAA. I expect there to be some growing pains, but overall, he will play with effort.

"He's done a real good job," said defensive line coach Steve Caldwell. "He's lost a little bit of weight. He's learning what's going on. He knows now what I expect of him."

N - Cameron Hartsfield and S - Chancellor James - According to the coaches, both have seen time at the nickel position. In the spring game, starter Corey Bell proved that he will be a playmaking position on this defense. Now the Broncos must establish depth and consistency behind Bell.

WR - Dallas Burroughs - This one might be a surprise. The fourth-year senior has played in 38 of the Broncos' 39 games over the last three years, but has caught just 15 total passes. Consistency is key for him, and he has showed up in 1-on-1's at time this camp. The Broncos' receiving core would certainly embrace a nice showing.

RB - Devan Demas

- Simply put, he always shows up. This sophomore hasn't received a ton of opportunities over the last couple of years, but when he gets on the field, he usually makes something happen. Boise State needs someone behind Jay Ajayi and Demas has pass catching skills you shouldn't sleep on. Plus, speed kills. Demas has speed. A lot of it.


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