Troy Babbitt-US PRESSWIRE
The Pokes came out swinging (or should I say roping?) against the Broncos on Saturday. Boise State settled down, and the defense settled in to a rhythm as Boise State cruised to a 45-14 victory.
The Broncos elected to let the defense set the tone, and I was a bit worried about the tone they were setting early on. Wyoming marched the field only to attempt a field goal, which was blocked. It was at that point that I felt like we would be okay, but in no means was I assuming we were out of the woods. What was Wyoming doing so well to move the ball? Well, they were taking what the defense was giving them. It was the simple hitch route or the receiver settling down in the soft spot of the zone. Brett Smith was hitting his guys for 6 yards here, 8 yards there, and it was working. How were we able to stop them? That is a good question. However, the answer lies in our defensive alignment. We got out of our four man front, and went to a three man front with Sam Ukwuachu giving a "kick" or "jam" to certain receivers then sitting in a zone. This allowed J.C. Percy, and Tommy Smith to work their zone more towards the middle of the field, thus taking away the aforementioned soft spots in our zone defense.
J.C. Percy was a critical part of the defense. Play after play, as soon as his man or another made a catch, he was there to make a solo tackle and prevent the 6 or 8 yard gain from becoming a 12 or 15 yard gain. Our line backing corp played solid and rose to the occasion of covering receivers in open space. Tommy Smith, Blake Renaud, Percy (or is it Perry?) Dextrell Simmons, Corey Bell, and Jonathan Brown came up big and helped keep those gains minimal.
For those of us keeping count, Lee Hightower did not make the trip to Laramie, and will not be involved in this weeks game, Dextrell Simmons was in street clothes at half time, I've got even money that says Douglas is done for the year, it looked pretty nasty, Greg Grimes was seen on crutches, and Kharyee Marshall sustained what appeared to be an ankle injury (although I saw Marshall walking by the sub and he appeared to be walking okay, I'm pretty sure he will play). As for the rest, we may have taken a grenade to the fort, so we better be ready to carry the flag. We need big play from Tyler Horn, Beau Martin, Jonathan Brown, Darian Thompson, and most likely Ebo Makinde. This is a time for out guys to seize a big opportunity to make things happen and keep this well oiled machine going.
Offensively we accomplished almost everything I said we needed to do. Southwick was a touch under 200 yards, D.J. Harper rushed for over 100 yards, we went for over 200 yards on the ground, and we won the game in the style in which we should have. We beat a team that is bad, in their house, in a very cold town and at high elevation. For the past two weeks now we have seen some different wrinkles in our offense. Credit the coaching staff for the 3rd down and short quick pitch to Shane WIlliams-Rhodes that went for a touchdown. That was well set up and the defense didn't see it coming. Those are the plays we have grown to love the last few year. But, the strength of our offense lies on the ground, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Joe Southwick is best when we use play action or move him out of the pocket. That allows him the option to run for a few yards if things break down. With us running the ball as well as we are, expect us to stick with play action. I like that we got the ball to 6 different receivers, although I hope we try a few more traditional running backs screens next week. Rocky Long will try to show the world what a great defensive coach he is, and I think some of the pressure can be checked with a well timed screen. It was a good victory for us. Wyoming should have lost by as many as they did. Good win.