What we learned from Boise State's win over Southern Miss

We learned that the Boise State defense is very good at takeaways.

In a season where Boise State is not particularly consistent in many things at all, the Broncos can at least hang their hat on recovering fumbles and intercepting passes. Saturday's five forced turnovers give Boise State 17 for the season, which is tops in the country on a per game basis. It helps, of course, when Southern Miss punt returners patty-cake the ball right into your arms, but the other four turnovers - two forced fumbles, two interceptions - were the result of aggressive, opportunistic defense. For what it's worth, Fresno State's aggressive, opportunistic defense has forced 18 turnovers in six games, so let's put the over/under on turnovers Saturday at nine.

We learned how the Boise State offense will look without Mitch Burroughs.

It really won't look all that different than when Burroughs was in there. The plays remain the same, only now there are more Boldewijns and Burkses running the routes. Burroughs' injury, assumed to be a semi-serious wrist sprain that will or will not be confirmed or discussed at Chris Petersen's press conference today, could keep the senior wideout out for some time. Carry the flag, next man up, and other cliches.

We learned that the Bronco defense can get its big plays from anywhere.

The stars of the Boise State defense - Demarcus Lawrence, Jamar Taylor, J.C. Percy, etc. - were not the main players in Turnover Roulette on Saturday. Those roles belonged to true freshman Tyler Gray, redshirt freshman Darian Thompson, redshirt freshman Sam Ukwuachu, and a combo of junior Kharyee Marshall and true sophomore Tyler Horn. Those are some young people making some big plays, continuing a trend that started way back in Week One.

(Aside: I'm all for new guys stepping up, but did anyone else feel like they didn't really know this team when all these new faces were making plays? For a moment during Gray's interception return, my mind thought it was cheering for Aaron Tevis who wore No. 36 before Gray. I love this team, and I barely know them.)

We learned of a new Achilles' heel to the passing game.

Dropped passes continue to bother the Boise State passing game on Saturday. Southwick completed 66 percent of his throws and probably could have completed 80 percent if receivers' hands had been more dependable. Go ahead and blame Southwick for whatever you typically blame Southwick for, but keep in mind that it's not always his fault. He could be getting more help.

We learned that teams should probably just take a knee on kickoffs.

The Boise State coverage team held dangerous kickoff return man Tracey Lampley to 73 yards on six kickoff returns for a grand average of just 12 yards per return. That stinginess on special teams contributed to Southern Miss' average field position being its own 22-yard line while Boise State started, on average, at its own 45. That's significant, especially when you're giving the ball away as freely as the Golden Eagles were.

Your turn

What did you learn from Boise State's win? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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