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June 28, 2010

Boise State has the Hokies' full attention and justifiably so

By: Jimmy Robertson

The magazine sits cockeyed on a couch in a co-worker’s messy office, and the first thing that jumps out is the photo of Tech’s sensational tailback, Ryan Williams, on the cover.

Closer inspection reveals Sporting News’ preseason top five, which includes college football heavy hitters Alabama, Ohio State, Miami and Florida – with Boise State perched at No. 3.

Mark Schlabach, a college football writer for who sees a ton of football each year (mostly in the SEC), also had the Tide at No. 1 – followed by Boise State.

In other words, Tech fans, Labor Day night will not be a holiday for the Hokies.

Most preseason publications have the Broncos rated in the top five of their preseason polls and for good reasons. Boise State handled an unbeaten and third-ranked (at the time) TCU team 17-10 in the Fiesta Bowl to cap a perfect season – it went 14-0. That marked the second perfect regular season in a row for the Broncos, who went 12-0 in 2008 before falling to TCU 17-16 in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Now, Tech fans shouldn’t dismiss the Broncos just because they play in the WAC. They’ve notched some good wins over the past five years, including Oregon (twice), Oregon State and Oklahoma to name a few.

Last year’s record included an impressive win over the Ducks, which won the Pac-10 and played in the Rose Bowl. More impressively, the Broncos amassed that sterling record with just four seniors on the roster.

Thus, they return nearly everyone off of that team. In fact, 22 of the 24 starters from the Fiesta Bowl return, making this the most experienced team in the nation.

So having said all that, they have caught the Hokies’ full attention.

“Our kids understand,” Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. “They know.”

Tech’s coaches already knew. Stinespring thinks so much of the Broncos that he and the offensive staff spent the first three days of June holed up in the offensive staff meeting room. They watched film of all 14 of Boise State’s games last year, charting, analyzing and doing what coaches do.

And they did all this before heading out on vacation in mid-June.

Boise State’s former defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, left to go to Tennessee. But the Broncos figure to run much of the same scheme as last season because head coach Chris Petersen promoted defensive line coach Pete Kwiatkowski to coordinator.

On the other side of the ball, Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster figures to have his hands full. Not only must he mold his own young unit – Tech returns just five starters – but he also needs to hatch up a scheme to stop a Broncos’ offense that averaged 42 points and 450 yards per game a year ago. That offense returns left-handed slinging quarterback Kellen Moore, a preseason All-America selection.

Like Stinespring stated, though, Tech’s players understand the situation, much like they did last season when the Hokies opened with eventual national champion Alabama in Atlanta. As Bill Roth reports in his column, more than 80 players stayed in Blacksburg for the first summer session, and recently 22 skill position players were on the practice field late one evening performing pass skeleton drills on their own. That tells you something right there.

Two months remain before kickoff. But the Hokies understand the situation – and they’re not letting a second of prep time go to waste.

Hoops news

An overwhelming number of those in the profession like what Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg did with his recent staff additions, promoting Adrian Autry from director of basketball operations to assistant coach, hiring former Old Dominion assistant John Richardson, and tabbing former Boston University head coach Dennis Wolff as the director of operations. The changes came about because two assistants, Ryan Odom and Bill Courtney, left following this past season. Odom took an assistant’s job at UNC Charlotte, while Courtney got the head job at Cornell.

All three have recruiting ties to the state of Virginia. Autry coached high school and AAU basketball for three years before coming to Tech two years ago, while Richardson has recruited largely the Tidewater area for ODU and Wolff served as an assistant at UVa for four years. They should go a long way in helping Tech retain some of the best prospects in the state.