By Chadd Cripe
Boise State football coach Chris Petersen said Thursday the Broncos likely will use a 1-2 punch at tailback and find a role for the third tailback.
Deciding which of the three standouts — senior Jeremy Avery, junior D.J. Harper or junior Doug Martin — gets the smallest role will be difficult.
"You have to make some hard decisions in terms of maybe two guys that are really going to be the 1-2 punch out of the gate and figure out who else fits in," Petersen said. "So we're kind of working on that. ... All those guys will be a factor. We probably need to get a 1-2 punch."
Petersen has hinted all year, and again Thursday, that he expects the injury bug that has been a problem at tailback for several years to strike again.
"As the season goes on," he said, "we know things will change."
Senior linebacker Daron Mackey rejoined the Broncos this week after being suspended for fall camp. He is not suspended for any games, but the fall camp suspension might have been worse.
"It's very hard missing fall camp," Petersen said. "As hard as fall camp is, nobody wants to miss fall camp. Everybody understands that that's almost a death sentence in terms of your ability to get in the mix in a hurry."
Mackey, who practices Tuesday for the first time since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in November, likely will need at least a few weeks to get in game shape. He can't even wear full pads until next week because of NCAA rules that require a five-practice break-in period.
Mackey, the starting middle linebacker part of last year, was arrested last month and he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of driving without a valid license, failure to maintain insurance and failure to appear for a court hearing.
Redshirt freshman linebacker John Michael Davis, who was expected to contribute this year, is enrolled in school but has been removed from the roster.
Davis missed fall camp while "dealing with some personal things," Petersen said.
Sophomore defensive end Darren Koontz likely will miss most of the season with a broken foot, Petersen said. The injury is the main reason the Broncos will play junior-college transfer Tyrone Crawford this year.
Petersen remains hopeful that the five defensive starters who were out for last week's scrimmage will be ready for Virginia Tech. I talked to safety George Iloka, who was one of them, on Thursday and he said he's healthier this year than he has been in his entire college career — so don't worry about him.
The Broncos are unveiling their Bronco Stadium expansion plan Friday.
"I haven't seen anything more pressing for us to get done than this project," Petersen said.
Here is the audio from Petersen's press conference. We've edited out the interruption from KTVB, who tried to air the press conference live despite Boise State's memo to the media that live broadcasts wouldn't be allowed this year. The live video is available exclusively at broncosports.com.