Hey Bronco Nation...
Well November 12th is a day many will remember as it was the day for a 2nd straight year, that Boise State’s BCS hopes were a kick away from becoming a reality, and for the 2nd straight year, that kick sailed wide. For me, it was my 26th birthday, so that’s a great present...ya right. Anyway, this week I thought I would write about my thoughts on what went wrong vs. TCU and how BSU can recover from that loss to finish strong.
What went wrong against TCU?
1. The kick
I don’t want to spend too much time on it, but it’s obvious, regardless of the fact that there were plenty of other plays that we should have won so that it wouldn’t have come down to this final kick...the fact is, it did come down to a kick, and that’s why we have kickers on the team. Now I think this was the right call 100% to kick the ball, and anything else is just plain dumb to think...and if you disagree, leave a comment and I’ll fight ya to death on that point...it was the right call!!! But we’ve had issues all season with our kicking game and I’ve said all season, “this will come to bite us down the road if it’s not fixed.” Well unfortunately, that’s just a spot with growing pains, he’s a freshman and will get better with pressure, it shouldn’t have come down on a freshman kicker’s shoulders...however if he made it the headline would have been “freshman kicker saves Boise State’s BCS hopes.” So unfortunately, if he missed it, than it should equally say “freshman kicker misses field goal ending BCS hopes.” As a player, you know it’s never 100% his fault, but that doesn’t change the fact that he too, contributed to that loss. As a teammate, the guys needs to rally around him and make sure they apologize for putting him in that situation to begin with, and really love on him, cause the season’s not over, and there are many field goals and PAT’s still to come.
2. The fumble
As we marched down the field with a lead, time of possession finally becomes an important stat. As a former defensive player, I wanted to see that offense stay on the field forever, even if it ended with a missed field goal or punt, give the opponent’s offense the least time to move the ball, because the less time they have, the more we know they only have the long ball option. That fumble was untimely, again, our depth hurt us here a bit as our 2 starters were hurt. Check my 1st blog on martytadman.com to see why I believe that depth, as evidenced with this fumble, is a weakness we need to strengthen as we move to a BCS conference.
3. The injuries
Depth was a huge issue in our secondary and our offensive backfield. Doug Martin, DJ Harper, and the entire cornerback 1st and 2nd strings hurt us bad. What you lose with injuries is experience. The talent will develop, but the experience is just time. The difference in practice to game is the speed..not size or strength...but speed. Things happen faster so you try to overreact as a defensive back, and jump on a slant when they pump fake, and get beat over the top. It’s just the lack of developed football intelligence that can only come from experience. Knowing that the 1 thing you can’t do as an offensive player is turn the ball over...and the 1 thing you can’t do as a defensive back is give up the big play, you’re instinct will act accordingly. But when you haven’t had enough time for those natural insticts to take over, you still have the natural tendancy to want to “make that big play.” Which means, fighting for that extra yard, or jumping that slant for a pick.
4. The defensive line
For a double move to work, the quarterback has to have a normal 5 step to 7 step drop, plus an extra second for the pump fake, and the lift of the front shoulder for a long pass and extra wind-up required to throw it. This creates a huge opportunity for the defensive line to simply disrupt the timing of the routes which throws everything off. However, on all long touchdowns, the QB wasn’t even pressured, and because the corners seemed to be one-on-one coverage, I’m guessing there might have been some sort of blitz on which is supposed to disrupt timing on a long pass...that obviously didn’t happen. I expected our D-line with size, speed, and experience to get to their QB more often.
5. The defensive backs
I wont have enough space here to go into the details of why my former position as a defensive back played very badly. So I have to split this blog into two. So this defensive back section is on martytadman.com as this week’s blogs for my personal site. So read em both.
6. The coaching
I have heard a lot since the game about second guessing Coach Pete’s call at the end of the game with not allowing Kellen to launch the ball. Here’s my opinion. Coach Pete is always right. Seriously, I never second-guess him, he knows the team, he knows football, he knows pressure, he knows all the aspects that go into that call more than we do and I am confident he made the best decision. Unfortunately the execution wasn’t there, but never second guess a coach as they knew all the factors and we didn’t. If he ran a play it would be a run or pass. A run we just saw that with the lack of depth, a fumble could happen and he could end up outside the middle of the field. The defense doesn’t mind a run, so they would have a blitz or a safe defense called. That means if Kellen is under pressure, he would take a sack, and make a field goal longer...or he would be forced to throw the ball into tight coverage and risk a pick. Or even if he had time to pass, the defense could drop 8 guys into coverage and Kellen might try to force a ball, it gets tipped and it’s picked. So I think centering the ball, calling a Time out, and giving yourself a sure 40 yard field goal attempt from the center of the field was perfect...it just lacked the execution obviously, but I put zero blame on the coaching or the call.
How does Boise State recover from this loss?
They recover by doing the same thing coach Pete preaches week in and week out...and that is, let’s focus on the next game and the rest will take care of itself. They know that at this point, a BCS bowl is all but out of the picture, but a solid bowl game is still there. They only dropped 5 spots which shows the nation still respects BSU and knows TCU was a great opponent. Lets keep that head up and prove to everyone that we can finish strong, and get rewarded with a Vegas or Poinsettia type bowl and continue their solid winning ways. The biggest concern I have is for the kicker, that freshman will have 3 years to think about this, and it’s hard to rebuild that confidence. I’m afraid of that next PAT or field goal, what he will be thinking as he stands over that ball. I think the coaches need to kick more field goals even if they could go for it the next few games to give him confidence in making them before the year is out. He needs to remember that confidence before the snap, so it becomes routine and expects to make those kicks, so the next time a BCS bowl is on the line, he has no memory of this last kick he missed. A football player must have the gift of a short memory while playing, because the bad memories will last a lifetime after you’re done playing...trust me, I remember plenty. But while playing, you need that confidence, so defensive backs, coaching, d-line, running back, kicker...it never happened, a new week, a new team, a new opportunity to win and succeed.
Again, you can check out martytadman.com for more of Marty's insights or find him on OBNUG each and every Tuesday until he gets sick of us.