Boise State vs Fresno State Football

Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion is grabbed by Boise State defensive lineman David Moa during a game on Nov. 25, 2017, in Fresno, California.

The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team heading into the 2019 season. This is the first entry in our series, question No. 20: Can Boise State’s injured players return to form?

The Boise State football team was hit with a rash of injuries to several key players last season, including potentially two all-conference players that barely contributed in defensive tackle David Moa and wide receiver Octavius Evans.

The Broncos also lost All-Mountain West safety DeAndre Pierce for the year after just four games and saw leading tackler (at the time) Riley Whimpey go down with a torn ACL midway through the year.

The four were big losses, but the Broncos found other contributors to step up. Players that didn’t expect to play much ended up getting valuable playing time and experience. But there’s no question the Broncos will be a different team this fall if the four can return to form.

A fifth player coming off injury, quarterback Chase Cord, may be the most important of them all. Cord, who suffered a torn ACL in practice last October, is hoping to be cleared prior to the start of fall camp in August. Cord is battling for the starting quarterback spot, and he would have been the clear front runner had he not missed all offseason while rehabbing from the injury.

Moa dealt with a calf injury that forced him to miss all but one game last season. He played a handful of snaps against Oklahoma State in the third game of the year, but didn’t play again. He received a medical redshirt waiver for a sixth season of eligibility in 2019. At one point a few years ago, Moa was seen as a big-time NFL prospect, but his numbers dipped two years ago before last year’s injury. He could be a game-changer along the defensive line should he be healthy enough to play.

Evans played in five games, which makes him ineligible for a redshirt. But he didn’t really play in five games. He appeared in five games and had two catches for 12 yards. Much like Moa, he was a non-factor last season. A mysterious ankle or foot injury limited him last year. He was expected to maybe be Boise State’s top receiver last year, and surely the top red zone target. If he can stay on the field and produce, he’s an added weapon at receiver.

Both Moa and Evans are supposed to be back healthy this fall, but at this point nobody really knows. They are wildcards — and potentially difference makers if they can get back on the field.

Pierce was the only one of the five to participate in spring practices after a spleen injury cut his season short, and he’s already fully cleared. His availability is not in question for next season, which is a big bonus to the Broncos.

The start of fall camp will be roughly 10 months since Whimpey’s knee injury, and it’s unknown whether he will be fully cleared by the start of fall camp. With the Broncos losing three linebackers that had eligibility left, including second-leading tackler Tyson Maeva, the Broncos need Whimpey back by the opener against Florida State — and they need him to play like he was before the injury.

It’s one thing just to get these guys back on the field, but it’s another to have them back to the all-conference level they showed when healthy. And whether they can get healthy enough to produce — Moa and Evans in particular — will be a big question for the Broncos heading into the season.

Countdown to Camp Questions{/span}

{span class=”print_trim”}No. 20: Can Boise State’s injured players return to form?

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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