Let it be noted and forever etched in the history of Boise State football and in the minds of Bronco Nation: the Broncos did not let us down. Losing to TCU hurts in a lot of different ways, but it is nothing compared to the joy and appreciation we have when we consider all that this 2008 Boise State football team has accomplished.
That said, here we go with the depressing part.
We seriously thought about not recapping the Poinsettia Bowl, for the sake of our own feelings and those of Bronco fans everywhere. But then we realized that it is our responsibility to recap the good and the bad, and that you can still write even when your eyes are puffy and red and you're coming off an all-night egg nog bender. You'll have to excuse us if our diction is a little off today.
Here are our thoughts and feelings on a game that could have been so many other things than a one-point loss. We might get more into that later in the day, but for now, here is OBNUG's Poinsettia Bowl recap. Enjoy.
... are you there, God? It's us, OBNUG... somewhere, Andy Dalton is still running (it's extremely slow running, but it's still running) ... poor tackling picked a bad time to show up; we would have preferred the Idaho game ... all in all, a rather un-dynamic effort from the Bronco linebackers ... you can't blame Kellen Moore for anything ... for that matter, no one on the Bronco team deserves any blame; they all played their hearts out ... don't think anyone was expecting Ian Johnson to bust a 20-yard TD run ... Nate Potter, you are a man for keeping Jerry Hughes quiet for 58 minutes ... TCU pass interference penalties may have been our best go-to play all night ... Kyle Brotzman, please step into our office ...
Please, sir, may I have a pass rush?
We have yet to decide what was the problem for the Bronco pass rush in last night's Poinsettia Bowl. Was it injuries to Mike T. Williams and Shea McClellin? Was it TCU scheming against Ryan Winterswyk? Was it a lack of depth along the defensive line? Or was it simply that the TCU offensive line outplayed our defensive line?
We're prone to believe the latter. The TCU offensive line played an excellent game, and no more so than when Andy Dalton dropped back to pass. The TCU quarterback was hardly touched all game long. The Horned Frogs allowed zero sacks against a BSU defense that had consistently put pressure on quarterbacks all season long. Give credit to those big, ugly Texans. They outplayed the Broncos to a man, and it was one of the biggest keys to the game.
Boise State did its D-line no favors, either, with very few blitzing schemes against the Horned Frogs. For most of the game, it was up to the defensive line to create pressure, and they just couldn't do it. And when Justin Wilcox did dial up a blitz, it was so slow and insignificant that he might as well have been playing with ten men. At least twice, LB Hunter White came on a blitz from outside the DE, and White was a complete non-factor - cautiously approaching the line of scrimmage and making no impact on the play. Perhaps he was run-blitzing to avoid Andy Dalton sneaking around the outside; that's fair. But if we're going to waste a blitz on an obvious passing down, we'd like the Broncos to waste it in the spirit of getting QB pressure.
Andy Dalton was a bad enough passer as it was. Imagine what could have happened if he didn't have all day to throw.
... the most frustrating part of the TCU running game is that the Broncos had penetration and had guys in the backfield, but they just couldn't make the play ... Jeron Johnson came to play ... surprised we didn't look Jeremy Childs' way more often; we know he had seven catches, but it just seemed like he could have had so much more ... Vinny Perretta's 65-yard grab was shades of Nevada ... on the camera shots of Coach Pete, he did not look like he was in control; it was very weird ... there were some pretty terrible-looking screen plays throughout the game ... anyone else get the feeling during the game like the Broncos were in a video game set on a super hard setting? ...
We really hate to say we told you so, really
In our Poinsettia Bowl game prediction, we hinged our final score on the following statement:
The key for the Broncos will be getting touchdowns, not field goals, when they get in the red zone. If Moore can guide the team to paydirt rather than giving way to Kyle Brotzman, it will make a world of difference in the final outcome. We don’t anticipate Boise State getting tons of chances against TCU, so we feel that the Broncos need to take advantage of the ones that they do get. We felt the same way when Jenny Green sat in front of us in fourth grade.
And when all was said and done, the red zone performance is what did the Broncos in. Just ask Coach Pete.
Petersen, always the offensive coach, put the blame squarely on the Broncos' red-zone performance. They knew they needed to capitalize on the few opportunities they would get against the nation's No. 2 defense, and couldn't.
"That's what got us - too many field goals," Petersen said. " I knew a couple of those field goals were going to come back to haunt us."
There were scores of missed opportunities by both teams throughout the game, but the ones that will stand out most noticably are the ones missed by the Broncos when they had the chance for seven and settled for three. Change one of those FGs into a TD, and you have yourself a different ballgame.
It was evident in the build-up to the game that the Broncos would have chances to score; they just didn't capitalize on them. In all, Boise State went past the TCU 35-yard line several times and only managed one touchdown and 16 points.
Credit the TCU defense for bending and not breaking. Did it look familiar? This is exactly what we came to expect from Boise State's "D" all season long - weathering the storm and holding teams out of the end zone. Perhaps this is what made it so gut-wrenching. TCU got touchdowns when it got inside the red zone. Boise State got nothing.
... Boise State's season is disappointing in the small picture but remarkable in the big picture ... no more Chrissy Johnson sideline interviews! Yes! ... the Bronco defense gave up 472 total yards but only 17 total points; we have no problem with that ... Kyle Wilson and the punt return unit was a complete non-factor ... boy, that WildFrog formation was something, wasn't it? Not ... how does Andy Dalton live in Texas and have such white skin? Was this his first outdoor game? ... by our count, Kellen Moore threw a pass into the end zone on only two occasions ... Christmas isn't ruined, but bowl season and our bowl pick 'em is ...
Boise State invisible player list, featuring Jeremy Avery
The TCU defense gets credit for being stellar, but the Boise State offense gets curious stares in their general direction for a complete lack of Jeremy Avery. Not counting kickoff returns, Avery touched the ball exactly three times: once on a reception on the Broncos' opening drive, again on a two yard loss in the third quarter, and a third time on a three-yard gain in the fourth. Avery's final stat line: two carries, one yard, and a whole lot of questions.
Avery saw fewer carries than a wide receiver; Vinny Perretta had five rushes for four yards. Fellow running back D.J. Harper was on the field loads more than Avery, taking handoffs on three occasions. For a player who was a key cog in so many Bronco offensive outburts this season, to see him be essentially left out of the gameplan was amazing.
And he wasn't alone. See if you can remember any of these players having their name called. TE Kyle Efaw? Instead of Efaw, we had Tommy Gallarda - a better blocker and worse receiver than Efaw - dropping key passes. TE Chris O'Neill? Maybe he wasn't that healthy after all. LB Derrel Acrey? Tim Brady started over Acrey, and all of a sudden we were right back to where we were in the Hawaii Bowl.
One of the more frustrating things about bowl games is that so much goes on between the time that the regular season ends and the bowl season begins that a team can have an entirely different look and feel by the time they take the field for their bowl. This was the case with the Broncos. Could we get some local reporting on this? Of course not. It will forever be a mystery.