Broncos' high flying circus coming to town

ATHENS — Boise State head coach Dan Hawkins is noted for his familiarity with the teachings of Gandhi and various Asian philosophers.

Monday, he threw in a little pop culture while previewing his No. 18 Broncos' game against No. 13 Georgia this Saturday.

"It's like in that movie Jurassic Park, with that big Tyrannosaurs Rex chasing you," Dan Hawkins said. "You need about 1,000 villagers surrounding that thing with spears. You need to run real fast and throw a lot of spears."

Hawkins' colorful approach, the Broncos' blue-turfed home field and high-scoring style have given Boise State a circus-comes-to-town reputation around the nation, but Georgia coach Mark Richt says don't be fooled.

"It's not a smoke-and-mirrors team," Richt said. "They're more old school than new school. They are a very physical, strong running football team that has great play action. They are not as unique as some people might think. They'll run the zone play down your throat."

The Broncos, who were 14th in the nation in rushing (229.8 ypg) and 20th in the nation in passing (262.8) last year, play the Bulldogs at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN. Boise State, a member of the Western Athletic Conference, has won 22 of its last 23 and 35 of its last 37 games, but it hasn't beaten an opponent from one of the power conferences in that span.

The Broncos came close in their last game, pushing Louisville in a 44-40 Liberty Bowl loss and making believers of a lot of observers.

"People would say they made a big jump up in competition when they played Louisville and you saw what happened there," said former Arizona coach Dick Tomey, who's now the coach at WAC school San Jose State. "I think they are just tremendously well drilled at all positions and all phases. I don't think the system is as difficult as the players."

The Broncos were second in the nation last year with 48.9 points per game.

"Regardless of who you're playing, if you score 49 points a game, you're definitely doing something right," Georgia defensive lineman Ray Gant said.

Georgia added Boise State to the schedule after Tulane and Arkansas State pulled out of previously scheduled games. At the time, the choices came down to Boise State and Troy, Richt said.

"We didn't have much time. They both weren't a good option I didn't think," he said. "We knew they were very good when we signed them up, and then they won 23 of their next 24 games or whatever."

The Broncos are led by quarterback Jared Zabransky, a 2004 All-America honorable mention by Sports Illustrated. The junior threw for 2,927 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for another 326 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

"When I watch the film, it's clear he's the leader," Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "He makes them go. He's tough. He can take that ball and start running with it. When he does that, he usually makes a good decision."

The Bulldogs will have a distinct size advantages on along the line of scrimmage. Georgia's offensive linemen outweigh Boise State's defensive linemen by an average of 48 pounds.

"I don't think there's any question, they'll be, in general, bigger, faster and stronger," Hawkins said.

Nevada coach Chris Ault said speed will be a bigger factor than size in Saturday's game.

"Boise is a very, very experienced team," said Ault, who has coached at WAC member Nevada for 21 years. "I think they'll line up with (Georgia) and give all they want, but I don't think Boise has seen a team with that kind of speed in many years. Boise's not midgets now across that front. I think the difference will be in the speed."

The Broncos can and will diffuse some Georgia's speed advantage by using multiple formations and running everything from the speed option to a vertical passing game to keep the Bulldogs guessing, and thereby slow them down a step or two.

"We've pushed our guys harder this fall than we ever have before," Hawkins said. "We're going to go down there and cut it loose and see what happens."

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