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The Idaho Press is counting down the 25 biggest questions facing the Boise State football team during the 2021 season. Next up is No 12: How will a defensive-minded head coach change things for the Broncos?

The departure of Bryan Harsin to Auburn and the subsequent hire of Andy Avalos as head coach meant the end of an era for the Boise State football team.

Every Boise State coach dating back to 1998 has had an offensive background — until now.

Dirk Koetter (1998-2000), Dan Hawkins (2001-05), Chris Petersen (2006-13) and Harsin (2014-20) all were offensive coordinators prior to being hired by the Broncos.

Avalos has been a defensive coach his entire life and was a defensive player for the Broncos. So for the first time in 23 years, the Broncos figure to have the head coach hanging around the defense a little bit more.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” linebacker Riley Whimpey said. “We’ve had meetings and coach Avalos is in there. With coach Harsin most of the time he’d be with the offense in meetings and with the quarterbacks.”

Avalos has said he’ll be involved with all three phases — offense, defense and special teams — but it’s only natural for the head coach to lean a little towards his area of expertise. New defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson has a strong relationship with Avalos and the two figure to work closely together.

But Avalos has plenty to be involved with on offense as the Broncos decide between Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears as the starting quarterback. The decision ultimately will be his, so he’ll continue to spend plenty of time around the offense during fall camp.

When Avalos was Boise State’s defensive coordinator, he mostly got to do his own thing while Harsin focused on the offense. There’s reason to believe it will be a similar scenario for Avalos and offensive coordinator Tim Plough.

For the past seven years, Harsin was heavily involved in the offensive game plan and meeting rooms. At practice he’d mostly be seen watching the offense, throwing passes to wide receivers or handing the ball off to running backs during drills.

That will surely be different this fall. And what about on game day? How will a defensive-minded head coach approach a decision on whether the offense should go for it on 4th-and-2? What about whether the offense should be aggressive on third down late in the game to try and get a first down and end the game over running the ball and trusting the defense to make one last stop?

It’s been a long time since Boise State’s head coach had a defensive background. What impact will that have on the Broncos? For the first time in two-plus decades, we’ll find out this fall.

B.J. Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013 and is a three-time winner of the NSMA Idaho Sportswriter of the Year Award. He appears on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket every Friday at 4 p.m. for the Blue Turf Sports report.

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