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The Boise-Buccaneers connection

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Martin and Dirk Koetter have a few things in common. They are both employed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And they are both Boise State alumni.

Before Boise State shocked the world, and beat Oklahoma in perhaps the greatest college football game ever, they were a team dominating the WAC, the Big West Conference, and before that, the Big Sky. For most of their existence, they had their ups and downs, winning the NCAA Division I-AA Championship in 1980 (little known fact: Chicago Bears coach John Fox was the defensive backs coach on that team before leaving for Long Beach State in 1981).

For most of the 1980's and into the 90's, Boise State competed in the Big Sky, and won a few conference championships, but still outside of the Northwest, they hadn't made a name for themselves just yet.

Enter Dirk Koetter.

You can say the Dirk Koetter era was the beginning of the Boise State dynasty. Their previous coach, Houston Nutt lasted all of one season, and was soon off to Arkansas to coach the Razorbacks. What Koetter aimed to do was improve the Bronco game with a fast paced offense.

Led by quarterback Bart Hendricks, the Broncos improved immediately under Koetter's tenure, finishing 6-5 in 1998, 10-3 in 1999, and 10-2 in 2000 before leaving to coach Arizona State.

Dirk Koetter brought a winning pedigree to Boise State (Courtesy of Kevin Liles/USA Today)

Dirk Koetter brought a winning pedigree to Boise State (Courtesy of Kevin Liles/USA Today)

After his stint with the Sun Devils, Koetter graduated to the NFL ranks, where he became an offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars, then onto to Atlanta where he helped the Falcons passing game, led by Matt Ryan.

When Falcons head coach Mike Smith was fired and replaced by Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Koetter decided to make a move to NFC South rival Tampa Bay, where he hopes to turn around the Buccaneers' offense.

Jeff Caves, who covered Koetter as a color analyst for the Broncos Radio Network, and is the host of Idaho Sports Talk on 93.1 The Ticket in Boise, explains what is expected of Koetter in Tampa Bay.

"Koetter has to take pressure early on down and distance off Winston so he must get a run game going", Caves said. "And Koetter can only call long pass plays because Winston is a pocket guy that needs a bubble around him the way he strides into throws."

It will be Koetter's job to get Jameis Winston more comfortable, especially since the offensive line is new and somewhat inexperienced. It's also imperative that Tampa Bay's running game helps take the pressure off Winston by scoring as well.

Why hello Doug Martin!

The "Muscle Hamster" as his teammates called him at Boise State, was one of the best running backs the program ever had, helping the Broncos win a Fiesta Bowl Championship against TCU in 2010, and establishing himself as one of the premier half backs in college football.

Doug Martin helped Boise State to huge success during his college career (Courtesy of Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Doug Martin helped Boise State to huge success during his college career (Courtesy of Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After a fruitful couple of years at Boise, Martin had a tremendous rookie season in 2012, when he got 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl, and looked like he was on his way to a nice career with the Buccaneers.

Unfortunately, the injury bug can be very unforgiving, and Martin was not immune. Suffering from a torn labrum, he missed 10 games in 2013. The next year, it was his ankle, and was out 5 games.

But 2015 is a different year, and judging by the way he has been playing these last few pre-season games, Doug Martin seemed primed for a comeback. Last week, against Cleveland, he got 40 yards on 9 carries, and the week before in the win against the Bengals, Martin had 59 yards rushing including a 30 yard run. He also came into camp looking terrific and 20 pounds lighter.

Caves thinks Martin will have a bounce back season in 2015.

"Doug is a Fantasy Football Sleeper of the Year. Who wouldnt be slowed down by injuries he has had? He is slimmer and more explosive and has always had great balance."

Lets hope Caves is correct.