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September 16, 2011

No. 4 Broncos hope to get Martin going vs. Toledo

(AP) -- Lost in all the record-setting numbers that quarterback Kellen Moore has posted during his career at Boise State is a running game that's been his complement.

It just wasn't that much help in the fourth-ranked Broncos' season opening win over Georgia.

So consider getting running back Doug Martin and the rest of Boise State's running game going one of the priorities when the Broncos return to the field on Friday night at Toledo.

Martin was held to 57 yards on 24 carries in the opener and Boise State as a team was held to just 129 yards on the ground. While that might seem like a decent total, consider that it's one of the 10 worst running games by a Boise State team since Moore took over as quarterback at the start of the 2008 season.

"We didn't run the ball exactly like we wanted to," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said of the effort two weeks ago in the Georgia Dome. "But we were really proud of how we ran it because we kept slamming it up in there, because if you don't do that and don't have some effectiveness you can't throw it the way we want to throw it."

The Broncos didn't try to overpower Georgia's interior bulk. Instead, they used short passes - made more effective by Moore's accuracy - as an extension of their run game.

Half of Moore's 28 completions that day went for less than 10 yards. It's part of the reason that Moore finished with the highest completion percentage (82.6) in school history for a quarterback making more than 30 attempts in a game. Half of Moore's six incompletions came on Boise State's first two drives.

But when they did turn to Martin, he was effective at making sure there weren't many negative runs. Six of Martin's 24 carries against the Bulldogs lost yardage, but most were limited to just 1- or 2-yard losses, many times when Martin was getting hit deep in the backfield.

It's part of the role Martin has accepted and thrived in ever since finally settling into the Broncos backfield during his sophomore season. His runs might not always be made for the highlight reels. But he knows his job is to bull ahead and get what yards he can.

"Sometimes when you just have to get those four hard yards, Doug can do it. He can get right up in there and bang it out and that's what we love about him," Boise State left tackle Nate Potter said. "But if we need to break a big one, he's got the speed and agility to do that, too. It's nice to have that well-rounded, thick, strong back you can rely on and put the game on him."

Martin came to Boise to be a running back, only to get switched to defensive back during his sophomore year, only to get moved back to running back later that season when an injury left the position thin. He became the Broncos' starter and ran for 1,260 yards and 12 touchdowns during his junior season.

Oh, and he's also raised his stock with scouts who now see Martin as having NFL potential because of his ability to run between the tackles.

"Probably like hard-nosed, aggressive, just relentless. Always moving forward," Martin said when asked to describe his running style.

Because of his versatility and willingness to play whatever position, Martin's become one of the most respected players in the Broncos locker room.

"It also teaches the importance of patience, I think. Doug was probably always naturally a running back, but he's just (said) `I'll play anywhere, I'm a football player first,'" Moore said. "He bumped around, bumped around and found his way back to running back and got into a role that worked out pretty well."

While Martin was the workhorse and will be for most of the season, he was helped in the opener by the change-up provided by a healthy D.J. Harper. Harper, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, had a key 44 yards and a touchdown against Georgia and Harper's slashing style is a counterbalance to Martin.

But everyone knows it's Martin who will carry the load.

"Doug is such an unbelievable worker, and he's such a great kid and he's tough. He's got all these things you love and you can put the rose-colored glass on and anything he does is good," Petersen said. "I don't know, he's a really good player."











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