Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Boise State escaped Vegas with their third straight bowl victory in Sin City. The defense saved the day and the kicking game came through for us against a very excited University of Washington team.
Any win is a good win. Knowing what I know about college football, I was very worried what UW team would show up. I think it was very evident from the get go that UW came to play. They ran the ball down our throat, their defense flew around, and it was one heck of a game.
What Did Boise Do Well?
We kept our composure. There were plenty of ups and downs throughout the game, and our boys never got rattled. City National Bank didnt have a few of their employees show up to the game so my buddies and I thought we would help ourselves to their seats (4 Rows behind the BSU bench). There was no panic, there weren't players yelling at each other, the team stayed relaxed.
Another thing is we got pressure on Keith Price. One of the keys to the game was not letting him have time to find his dangerous tight end or star wide receiver. Price was sacked 3 times and was hit or hurried numerous times. Our defense also forced three turnovers. One thing I say each week is we must take care of the football in order to win the game. We got 6 points off of turnovers, and UW was lucky it wasn't more. The game was decided by two points, and the last turnover came with the game on the line. Those turnovers were costly.
Offensively we came out in the no-huddle offense. What a great way to set the tone after a layoff. This proved to be just what we needed. Not only does the no-huddle put the defense on its heels, but it demands an elevated level of focus and precision from our offense. One thing that surprised me this game was how much we threw the ball in the middle of the field. Knowing that Joe has struggled with passes over the middle this year, I was worried we may scrap plays over the middle of the field. We threw the bubble screens to Potter early on which was setting up two plays: the fake screen and pass to Boldewijn over the middle for a touchdown, and the double pass later in the game. Credit goes to Robert Prince for setting those plays up and credit to our guys for executing. We also completed passes to Matt Miller and Chris Potter over the middle of the defense. Joe Southwick eluded pressure time after time and was crucial running the ball for us.
Our play calling stalled at times, but this is the closest to playing a complete game as we have all year. Only on a drive, maybe two, did I feel like we lacked focus and aggressive play calling. That isn't bad considering I have had that feeling for entire games this year.
Our special teams came through big for us. Frisina was huge on our field goals. I like the fact we mixed up some kick off looks. I am the kind of guy who likes to do things sometimes for the sake of showing something different. If a team is constantly seeing us boot it to the 5 yard line every time, then they will practice for that. If they see us pooching or squibbing one each game, they must devote practice time to making sure no one messes it up.
What Did Boise Not Do Well?
We could not stop the run. There are a few things that go into this. Did UW come out and run a play or two they hadn't all year? Yes. Did they run outside behind their big tight end? Yes. Did they utilize a formation that put two big tight ends next to one another which created a mismatch? Yes. Credit UW for adding a wrinkle to their offense. However, there were plenty of vanilla plays that went for way more yardage than necessary. Our tackling wasn't great either. I recall a few plays where Sankey was being tackled by one of our players for what appeared to be a 4 or 5 yard gain, then Sankey shakes the tackle, gets another 3 yards, and gets grabbed, then falls forward for another yard. Credit goes to Sankey for literally carrying his team the whole game. Like I said, he is a Pac 12 running back; physical, has a good burst, shifty, and doesn't quit. But, we must tackle better.
We also lost sight of their tight end. Part of that is due to the fact UW ran the ball so well. Our line backers would hesitate just enough on a play action to allow Seferian-Jenkins time to clear the second level. That is what a good running game can do.... It opens up everyone else in the offense to get looks. Lucky for us Keith Price struggled to get the ball to the open man. Had Price been more accurate and aggressive, he probably could have connected with Seferian-Jenkins for seven or eight completions. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Offensively we could not get momentum in our running game. There were plays that Harper broke for eight or nine yards, but throw away those three or four carries where he broke it, and it was tough sledding for him. We could not consistently get our ground game going, but it was just enough to open some play-action opportunities for us.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Well, take a look around, by no means is the cupboard bare. We lose some seniors that we will miss, but that means it is an opportunity for new faces to make an impact. Lets start with what we know: Southwick will most likely be the starter next year, we have a very talented backfield returning, there is plenty of talent and height at wide receiver, defensive line has experience, Renaud returns at line backer, Gray returns as probably the other candidate for starter, and we return starters and contributors in the secondary. I think the biggest question mark will come along the offensive line. We replace Kellogg, Myers, and Ames (although I was never high on Ames). Our backfield should feature thunder in Ajayi and pain that moves like lightening in Fields, throw Demas and Brooks into the mix, that is alot of talent.
Our first game is against UW, which will be a slug fest. UW returns Sankey (if he doesn't go in the draft), Keith Price, Kasen Williams, and tight end Michael Hartvigson (6'6'' 255). Defensively UW returns linebackers Shaq Thompson and Travis Feeney, safety Will Shamburger, and experience along the offensive and defensive line.
We have time to develop better timing on our deep ball, get some of our young true freshman a true off season of lifting, and we need to continue to fill the recruiting pipeline. Quick shout out to Pastor Jack Fields Sr. I had a wonderful conversation with he and his family after the game. Great parents, if any of us nugies get a chance to say hello to he or any other parents of our players, please do so.