No doubt you found it as reassuring as I did to hear Craig James spout off yesterday about how he expected a Boise State win Saturday night because Kellen Moore would take care of business. James didn’t mention any receivers, though.
No knock on Moore, who’s clearly an élite college quarterback, but you’ve still got to have somebody to throw to. And that’s one thing I haven’t really heard played up much by the media in all the discussion leading up to the game. Certainly the losses of Austin Pettis and Titus Young have been mentioned, but not in the apocalyptic terms reserved for A.J. Green’s departure.
But there’s a strong argument to be made that Boise State is in a similar boat to Georgia with regard to its passing game. Maybe even more so. Consider these points:
- Austin Pettis had 22 touchdown receptions inside the 20 the past two seasons (most in FBS), and was targeted 27 more times than any other Broncos receiver in the red zone since 2009.
- Titus Young averaged 47.7 yards per touchdown reception last year and was Moore’s greatest threat downfield. On passes thrown 30 yards or more, Moore targeted Young on 20 of 23 attempts.
- Young and Pettis combined for more than half of Boise State’s first-down receptions last season. On third down, they were targeted on 46 of Moore’s 94 attempts.
- Kellen Moore completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns and no interceptions when facing a blitz the past two seasons. He completed 79.0 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns when targeting Austin Pettis.
Where I come from, that’s a helluva lot of attention and a helluva lot of production. Maybe Boise’s preparation is so good and Kellen Moore is such a terrific quarterback that the Broncos’ passing game won’t miss a beat in the first game without those two. If that first game were on the fabled blue turf against, say, UNLV, that’s a likely possibility. But it’s not. So I’m not seeing a slam dunk here.
Then again, maybe the bright side of this for Boise is that it may take Georgia some time to figure out which receivers are worthy of being keyed on. But is that any different a task from what the Boise defense faces?