Friday night primer

In week 10 of our weekly primer series, the National Football Post highlights some of the keys to tonight’s Boise State-Louisiana Tech game, including top players and matchups that NFL scouts will be watching.

Prospects to keep an eye on:

Boise State

Jeremy Avery: No. 27, RB, 5-9, 173

One of the nation’s most underrated running backs. Showcases impressive lateral quickness, balance and vision inside and consistently is able to make a man miss and separate in the open field. Is a much better prospect than former Boise State RB Ian Johnson.

Richie Brockel: No. 40, FB, 6-1, 240

Lacks ideal power and physicality as a lead blocker, but knows how to slip out in the pass game and catch the football in the flat.

Austin Pettis: No. 2, WR, 6-3, 202

Isn’t a real explosive athlete and lacks an ability to consistently separate down the field. However, he possesses a big frame and displays the body control to go up and get the ball. Presents a lot of mismatch problems for undersized corners, particularly in the red zone.

Kyle Wilson: No. 1, CB, 5-10, 186

One of the nation’s premier cornerback prospects. Showcases impressive fluidity, balance and closing burst in coverage and also doubles as a very talented punt return man.

Jeron Johnson: No. 23, SS, 5-11, 195

Isn’t the most impressive size/speed athlete for the position, but the guy isn’t afraid to throw his body around and has a real nose for the football. Expect him to be around the action consistently tonight.

Others worth watching:

Kellen Moore: No. 11, QB, 6-0, 187
Titus Young: No. 4, WR, 5-11, 170
Ryan Winterswyk: No. 98, DE, 6-4, 263

Louisiana Tech

Rob McGill: No. 74, OT, 6-6, 310

A tall, well-built offensive tackle with natural strength and impressive athletic ability for his size. Is one of the more intriguing junior offensive tackles prospects, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the talented Boise State defensive ends.

D’Anthony Smith: No. 5, DT, 6-2, 300

A gifted athlete who does a nice job exploding off the ball and penetrating gaps inside. However, it’s his impressive overall strength for the position that makes him so difficult to block.

Antonio Baker: No. 34, FS, 5-11, 210

Possesses a good build for the position, but plays at one speed and struggles to quickly get out of his breaks and close on the football. Always seems to be a step slow in the pass game.

Others worth watching:

Daniel Porter: No. 20, RB, 5-9, 190
Phillip Livas: No. 6, WR, 5-8, 176

The key to the Bulldogs defense: Part 1

The Boise State offense will likely get all the attention in this one, and rightfully so. However, Louisiana Tech has some playmakers on the defensive side who certainly have the ability to slow down the Broncos’ pass attack. Defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith is one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the conference and looks like a potential starting-caliber DT at the next level. He possesses a rare blend of power and strength for his size and, combined with his natural athleticism, he’s simply too much for any of the Boise State interior linemen to block one on one. Expect the Broncos to not only devote a ton of attention to Smith inside, but also to use a lot of bootlegs to get QB Kellen Moore outside the pocket. Even so, Smith has been a one-man wrecking crew all season and still has the power and range to split the double-team and make his way toward the football anywhere on the field.

The key to the Bulldogs defense: Part 2

This might be the most talent Boise State has ever had from top to bottom at the skill positions, as RB Jeremy Avery and wideouts Titus Young and Austin Pettis all have shown a knack for creating the big play this season. However, the key to limiting the Broncos on offense is tackling after the catch and not allowing the shiftiness of Avery and Young beat you in space. Louisiana Tech safety Antonio Baker needs to have a big game getting after the football and being a secure wrap-up tackler in space. The Bulldogs can’t allow the Boise State offense to consistently get into third-and-manageable situations, and a key to keeping them out of that is to tackle well on first and second downs.

Injuries won’t help their cause

Louisiana Tech’s top two playmakers on offense, RB Daniel Porter and WR Phillip Livas, are listed as “questionable” for tonight’s game, which would be a nearly insurmountable blow if neither is able to play. The Boise State offense is averaging 41 points per game this season, and I simply can’t see the Bulldogs keeping pace in this one without Porter and Livas playing and having big games.

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