A new season is upon us, and college football starts tomorrow. Lets get down to it.
The Broncos travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans. I will break down what we need to do to win the game and ways the Spartans can win. Some of this will be breaking down the X's and O's of the game, and some stats that I have figured we need to achieve in order to win or lose.
Offensively, Boise State will have a new quarterback on the road facing a tough defense. This means that MSU will come out gunning. Expect them to blitz the quarterback alot early on in order to force bad throws from Southwick and get the crowd into the game. The crowd loves touchdowns, but they also love seeing the quarterback eat dirt. Southwick must prove early on that he can beat the blitz with quick hitters to the tight end or slot receivers, or dump the ball off to D.J. Harper. Until Southwick proves he can beat the blitz expect MSU to bring the heat.
We must run the ball effectively. If we are constantly seeing 2nd down and 6 we will win. Failing to open holes in the MSU defense will keep them in control and force us to be one dimensional. As long as our backfield is getting 4 yards a carry we remain able to do what we want. Running sets up play action in the long run, but passing and beating the blitz early on keeps us in the game. Follow me...?
MSU rushes the pass very well, we must give them reasons to not rush the pass so well.... what does that mean? Screen passes. We must utilize the traditional running back screen, and also at least one tunnel screen to our wide receivers. Also, we must run the counter play well, that is something we did a lot of against Pants-Action's team and it worked well. Sprinkle in a wr bubble screen and we have some safe plays that can keep the defense guessing. One more thing, expect at least one WR reverse. MSU pursues well, and if they over pursue look for us to go to Shane Williams- Rhodes or Dallas Burroughs on a wide receiver reverse. Keep in mind, we have seen Matt Miller throw the ball well out of a reverse..... It is my opinion that we must score on a WR reverse in order to win the game. Our wide receivers have the height advantage and experience advantage over the MSU defense. Not to mention, I think our TE's will be a tall order for MSU's linebackers.
Limit turnovers. If Southwick keeps things to one interception, we have a huge chance of victory. Our running backs must also secure the ball. If Southwick can throw for 190+ yards, one td and one interception, we win.
Defensively, we must hold LaVeon Bell to three yards or fewer per carry. Bell is listed at 6'2'' 244 lbs. That is a big person. It is tough for a person that big to have break away speed, so it is up to our defense to get him before he gets a head of steam and gets 5+ yards a carry. If we can get him at level one then we force MSU to put the game on their inexperienced quarterback's shoulders to beat us. Gang tackling will be key and we must stop the running game with only seven men in the box. I remember when a big strong running back came to Boise and had a hard time finding the holes, we must have great pursuit to the ball.
Also, we must force two turnovers, slice them however you want, but we must win the turnover battle. If we hold MSU to 120 yards rushing or less we can win this game. If MSU is constantly dropping back to pass then the chances of us winning the game or very good.
For Michigan State, they must score twice in the first quarter. Scoring will keep the crowd amped up and put a road team on the ropes. If Michigan State can get out with two touchdowns regardless of what we do they will probably win the game. That puts pressure on a defense that is giving up points and puts pressure on an offense with an inexperienced qb. If Andrew Maxwell throws for more than 250 yards they will win.
If Michigan State can force three turnovers they win. If we are turning the ball over that much then we are not scoring touchdowns. If Michigan State holds us to 17 points or less, they win. Their defense is tough, but they see a different style of football in the BIG 10. There is no team in their conference that shifts as much as we do. There is no team in their conference that uses as many formations as we do.
This matchup is very close. Both teams have new quarterbacks, and will rely on the run game to open things up. MSU has a tough defense, but BSU has players that have seen alot of action. Even though guys like J.C. Percy, Tommy Smith, Mike Atkinson etc haven't been starters per se, their defensive contributions have been large, that being said, I consider them starters. Using this logic, our defense returns seven starters. Our offensive line does have a question mark at center. We do have experience all along the Offensive line, so I am not terribly worried about that. Both teams will rely on their defense to make the difference in this game. And as usual, the team that turns the ball over the least amount of times will win. Credit MSU with home field advantage, but credit Boise with big game season opener experience. This will be close.
My pick, 23-17 BSU.