Three Boise State stars every Ole Miss fan should know of before Thursday's opener
The Ole Miss Rebels will take on Boise State for the first time in history when the two teams meet in Atlanta to open the 2014 season Thursday night.
In anticipation of the Rebels first-ever showdown with the Broncos, here are three Boise State players every Ole Miss fan should familiarize themselves with by Thursday:
1. Grant Hedrick (QB): Boise State’s starting quarterback returns from a strong 2013 season during which he completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,825 yards while splitting time under center with Joe Southwick. Hedrick did an excellent job of taking care of the ball, throwing for 16 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions, and added the threat of the run by carrying the ball 68 times for 277 yards and six scores. With Southwick now graduated from BSU, the job now belongs exclusively to Hedrick. The Broncos also returned their top two wide receivers from a season ago in Shane Williams-Rhodes and Matt Miller (see below), leaving Hedrick with plenty of weapons in his arsenal when attacking the Rebels’ defense Thursday.
2. Matt Miller (WR): Miller was the Broncos’ top receiver in 2013, catching 88 passes for 1,1140 yards and 12 touchdowns, all team-highs. He averaged 13 yards per catch in 2013 and posted his third-straight season with at least 60 catches, 650 yards, 11 yards per catch and five touchdowns. Needless to say, this guy is as consistent as any wideout in the nation, and he has the speed and athleticism to stretch the field vertically as well. Miller and Williams-Rhodes (77 catches, 702 yards, six touchdowns in 2013) will test the Ole Miss secondary, with Williams-Rhodes typically benefiting from the added attention given to Miller by most opposing defenses. If Hedrick and Miller find a rhythm early in the game Thursday night, it will likely open up the field for the rest of Boise State’s skill position players.
3. Beau Martin (DL): Martin may have only registered 21 tackles a season ago, failing to crack the top-10 among Boise’s defensive stars, but he proved to be a dangerous pass rusher in a limited role in 2013. His four sacks and seven tackles for loss last year lead all returning Broncos, and he is poised to take on a much larger role as a senior in 2014. With the loss of former Boise defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to the NFL, Martin will draw the most attention from the Rebels’ offensive line on obvious passing downs, and should not be overlooked by fans despite a lack of national media attention heading into a new season.