BOISE — He ran for 1,260 yards and scored a dozen touchdowns in his first season as Boise State’s go-to back, but believe it or not, Doug Martin has quite a bit of room for improvement.
Now that he is settled in as the No. 1 running back, and with the depth behind him still uncertain, Martin is trying to become a more well-rounded player.
“We’d been excited for a long time about Doug, and everyone got to really see it last year,” quarterback Kellen Moore said last month. “He’s such a hard worker, it’ll be interesting to see how he can step up this season.”
Martin’s yardage total was sixth-best in school history, his 6.27 yards per carry were fifth for a single season and his touchdowns were tied for 10th. Those totals could be approached again with another year under his belt as a full-time running back (remember, he played a bit of defense in 2009) and with D.J. Harper healthy as the second part of a 1-2 punch.
“He’s a workhorse, and he’s going to give 100 percent,” running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said. “Our thing with him is to make sure he’s healthy and keep him fresh.”
A 5-foot-9, 215-pound bowling ball, Martin also showcased his speed last season. He scored 15 times in 2009, but quite a few came from short distances. He had a 79-yard touchdown reception last Nov. 27 against Nevada, then zoomed for an 84-yard score in the Las Vegas Bowl against Nevada.
Without Jeremy Avery’s speediness, the Broncos could utilize some of that big-play ability from Martin.
“I want to probably stretch more,” Martin said. “I never really tightened up in games, but if I felt a little more flexible, I’d probably be a little faster.”
Though his strength has never been in doubt, a focus on conditioning and flexibility could make him more valuable, plus help avoid injury.
“Doug’s a guy we can give the ball to 25-30 times, and we’ve got to know we have that from him,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said.
With Austin Pettis and Titus Young gone, the Broncos’ receivers corps will see quite a few players in the rotation, and that could take some time to get the passing game into a groove. Asked if he’s preparing to take on additional carries early on, Martin smiled and said “I’m not sure — we’ll find out.”
What Martin can do to help Kellen Moore beside his rushing prowess, he can help by being another weapon through the air. He had 28 catches for 338 yards last season. In terms of receiving yardage, he is Boise State’s second-best returning receiver from a year ago.
Pease also stressed that Martin can improve in pass protection, which the running back has said was a focus in the spring.
“Even with him running the ball and using him in the pass game, he’s also got to be sound in protection,” Pease said.
If being a workhorse running back and a threat out of the backfield when Moore throws isn’t enough, Martin will add another duty this season — he’s slated to be one of the team’s primary kickoff returners this season.
Ask Martin what he wants to improve on, and he stops just short of using the old Boise State adage of “everything.”
“Being a leader, watching more film, following the details, being consistent,” he said.
Ask Pease, in his first season as offensive coordinator, and he sees no reason to institute any massive changes after the junior campaign Martin posted.
“He’s just got to continue to do what he does,” Pease said.