Beware: What statistics have been overrated and overlooked for 2012
With college football season less than a month away, some (but hopefully not all) preseason predictions and projections will be moot. Trust us, we’ve been digesting our thoughts on the upcoming season since the end of spring practice and even the end of bowl season.
Logan Thomas needs a big season for Virginia Tech to contend for the national title.
Predicting college football's national champion is never an easy task. In addition to combing through schedules, returning starters, players lost and statistics, there are several factors impossible to account for. Injuries and luck will have a major impact on the 2012 season - and neither can be projected.
Wyoming's Brett Smith looks to challenge Boise State for the Mountain West title.
The Mountain West will have yet another new look in 2012. The ever-changing conference lost TCU — which went 48–7 during its seven-year stay — to the Big 12 and added Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii from the WAC.
Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 best coaches in college football for 2012.
Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach?
Linehan played in all 12 of Boise State’s regular-season games in 2011 before missing the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas because of injury. Linehan started in nine contests, finishing the season with 23 receptions, 252 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Linehan ranked fourth on the team in touchdown receptions and finished sixth in receptions and seventh in receiving yards. His season totals ranked him second among Broncos’ tight ends, behind only Kyle Efaw, who has graduated. Linehan caught a career-high three passes in five different games last season and had a career-high 56 yards receiving against Toledo. He also caught a touchdown pass in five games. In 2010 as a redshirt freshman he played in 12 games, finishing his debut season with six receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Tjong-A-Tjoe, who is originally from Amsterdam, Netherlands, played in Boise State’s final seven games of the 2011 season, including the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against Arizona State. He finished his ’11 campaign with 15 total tackles (seven solo), three tackles for a loss and two sacks. His season-high of four tackles came in back-to-back games against Air Force and UNLV. He also recorded a sack against the Falcons and his other one came against New Mexico. He played in 12 games in 2010 as a redshirt freshman, finishing his debut season with 24 tackles (11 solo), 6.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks.
Kellogg is the most experienced offensive lineman on the Broncos’ roster with 22 career starts entering his senior season. He started 11 of the 12 games he played in last season, missing one game because of injury. He was part of an offensive line that finished the 2011 campaign ranked No. 1 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed (0.62 per game). That kind of pass protection helped the Broncos finish fifth among FBS schools in scoring offense (44.2 points per game) and ninth in total offense (481.3 yards per game). Kellogg also was named to the WAC All-Academic Team in both 2009 and ’10.
Atkinson played in all 13 of Boise State’s games last season, starting six contests. Five of those starts came at defensive tackle and the other came at fullback in the Broncos’ season-opener against Georgia in Atlanta. He registered 31 tackles in 2011, including 12 solo stops and 2.5 tackles for a loss. He also was credited with two pass breakups. He posted a career-high five tackles in games against Tulsa and in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against Arizona State. He played in a combined 13 games in 2009 and ’10, registering a total of 18 tackles (seven solo), two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup during that span.
Percy has played in every one of Boise State’s 40 games the past three seasons, earning six starts during that span. He finished 2011 ranked fifth on the team in tackles with 48, 19 of them solo stops. He also had a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and an interception. Percy collected a season-high eight tackles against New Mexico and forced a fumble against Air Force. He recorded his first career interception against Nevada. At the end of the ’11 campaign, Percy was named co-winner of the Broncos’ Special Teams Player of the Year Award. In both 2009 and ’10, Percy finished second on the team in tackles, despite starting in only six of Boise State’s 27 games during that stretch. He also was named to the WAC All-Academic Team in both of those two seasons.
Miller made quite the impression in his first season in a Boise State uniform, playing in all 13 of the Broncos’ games, including eight starts. Miller set school single-season freshman records for receptions (62), yards receiving (679) and touchdown receptions (nine). He tied Tyler Shoemaker for the team lead in receptions and ranked second in both receiving yards and touchdown catches. He finished second in the Mountain West Conference in receptions per game (4.77) and sixth in yards receiving per game (52.2). He caught a career-high nine passes against TCU and posted a career-high 78 yards receiving against Fresno State. He caught a touchdown pass in eight games, including two against UNLV. He earned first-team FWAA Freshman and second-team Yahoo! Sports Freshman All-America honors.
Leno started all 13 games at right tackle last season, making him and departed left tackle Nate Potter the only Boise State offensive linemen to do so. Leno made the big jump from a reserve who appeared in just two games in 2010 to full-time starter in ’11. Leno also saw game action at tight end during the 2010 season because of injuries at the position, and his athleticism has helped him make the switch to offensive line and excel there. The junior, along with senior left guard Joe Kellogg, are the two most experienced offensive linemen on the roster headed into the 2012 season and will be counted on heavily to maintain the Broncos’ offensive production in recent years.
Gavins started the first three games of the 2011 season before tearing his ACL against Tulsa, resulting in him missing Boise State’s remaining 10 games. Despite playing in less than three full games, Gavins still led the team in interceptions with three. He picked off one pass in Boise State’s season-opening win in Atlanta against eventual SEC East champion Georgia and then collected two more interceptions in the Broncos’ next game at Toledo. He also had 11 tackles (nine solo) and three pass breakups in his shortened ’11 campaign. The senior is a former walk-on and has played in a total of 28 games in his Boise State career, with six career starts under his belt entering the 2012 season.
Taylor has started the last 21 games he has played in the past two seasons. He missed four games because of injury in 2011, but still finished tied for second in interceptions with two and tied for first in pass breakups with six. Taylor saved his best for last, returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in Boise State’s convincing 56-24 win over Arizona State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22. It was the longest interception return in school history and in the history of the MAACO Bowl. Taylor had a total of 27 tackles in 2011, 18 of them being solo stops, to go along with two tackles for a loss and a half-sack. His other interception last season came against Fresno State.
Harper has been at Boise State since 2007, but has had two seasons wiped out because of injury. In both 2009 and ’10 he suffered season-ending knee injuries early on in each campaign. The NCAA granted him a sixth-year of eligibility and Harper is poised to carry the load left behind by Doug Martin. When he’s been able to stay on the field, Harper has produced, including finishing second on the team with 557 yards rushing (4.8 yards per carry) last season. Harper put together back-to-back 100-yard games against UNLV and TCU in 2011, and for his Broncos’ career he is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Harper had a career-high nine rushing touchdowns in ‘11, which brought his career total to 24, ninth-most all-time in school history. He also caught 19 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown last season. His 10 total touchdowns in 2011 ranked him third on the team behind the departed Martin and record-setting wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker. Harper also made an impact on special teams last season, returning kickoffs and blocking a punt against Tulsa.
Chris Petersen looks to lead Boise State back to a BCS bowl in 2012.
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 24 Boise State. The Broncos are coming off a 12-1 record with a victory over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Boise State suffered a lot of personnel losses, but expect this program to remain a top 25 team.
D.J. Harper needs to stay healthy for Boise State to make a BCS bowl in 2012.
The Boise State Broncos check in at No. 24 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.