Final pregame thoughts on Boise State versus New Mexico

Brian Losness-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Thought No. 1: Can the Boise State offense figure out the New Mexico defense?

There is nothing remarkable about the Lobo defense - no superstars, no national rankings, no individual pieces and parts that will keep you up at night. Instead, what the Lobos have going for them on defense is philosophy. Check the scouting report, courtesy of the Statesman:

The Lobos use three linemen and four linebackers to create a variety of looks in their front seven. They like to use zone blitzes, where it's difficult for the quarterback to determine who's rushing and who's dropping into coverage.

Jesse Palmer made an interesting point during the broadcast of Boise State - BYU (that I'm learning things from Jesse Palmer says a lot about how far I've come as a person). His point: Michigan State and Miami (OH) played straight-up defense, i.e. what you saw presnap was what you got. BYU made you think about it, disguising coverages and blitzers.

New Mexico is closer to BYU, by design, than it is either Michigan State or Miami. How will Joe Southwick et al react? Panic? Confusion? Brilliance?

Bronco Nation has eyes on you, Joe.

Tumblr_ma5c6ttruh1qhmzreo1_400_medium

Thought No. 2: How many offensive possessions will Boise State get?

Much has been made this week about New Mexico's grind-and-wind offense that employs triple option principles in an elaborate game of keep away. No. 12 Texas only got nine possessions, as legend goes, and the game was 10-0 with two minutes left in the first half. If Texas and its big-time offense play a nailbiter with so few possessions, what fate might befall the less good Boise State offense?

(I don't think I need to point out the irony that the Texas offense, currently averaging over 500 yards per game, is coached by former Bronco OC Bryan Harsin.)

Here are a couple things to think about:

1. Nine possessions would be rough, yes. But consider nine to be a worst case scenario. Among other New Mexico opponents, New Mexico State had 10 possessions, Texas Tech had 12. The Longhorns scored touchdowns on six of nine possessions and the Red Raiders scored on seven of 12. NMSU scored two TDs on 10 tries. Is Boise State's offense more Texas or more New Mexico State?

(Don't answer that.)

(OK, you can answer that, but be nice.)

If the answer is somewhere in between the two - let's call it four touchdowns on nine possessions (a TD less than half the time) - that's 28 points for the offense. Do you think the Bronco defense will give New Mexico 28 or more? Not likely or even possible.

Sidethought: Do you think a 28-21 win will appease anyone? Not likely or even possible.

2. Possession talk has focused mostly on the offense, but let me put some of the onus on the defense, too.

Go back to that Texas Tech game. You know how the Red Raiders got seven first-half possessions? The TT defense forced New Mexico to go three-and-out on four of its five first-half drives (the fifth was a 17-play touchdown drive with a fourth down conversion, the sixth was a kickoff return score).

Drives_medium

(click to enlarge)

Force three-and-outs, you get more possessions. Get more possessions, you get more points. Get more points, radio callers stop yelling at you.

Thought No. 3: Best Bronco defense of all time?

I'm sure someone will make the case that this is true by season's end, but I'm looking more long term. With all the young talent on D, is this group setting up to be an all-timer either this year, next year, or in 2015? Just listen in on the names of the current sophomores: Lee Hightower, Demarcus Lawrence, Jeremy Ioane, Bryan Douglas, Blake Renaud, Corey Bell. We have three more years of these players! Three! Look out Big East, or Big 12, or Big Whatever Conference Boise State is in by 2015.

Thought No. 4: Where are the tight ends?

Someone brought this Idaho Statesman comment to my attention, and considering the comment adheres to the laws of grammar and is neither tinged with education reform soapboxing nor politics talk, I thought it was appropriate to repost.

FACT 1 - The Tight End has disappeared in the offense with Prince in charge. Whereas previously the Tight End was a vital part of the Boise State offense.

FACT 2 - The play calling, to date, has been about as predictable as the morning sun rising in the East. My 14 year old daughter is able to correctly predict what is coming on virtually every play - so if she can do it so can the opposing defensive players (and coaches).

FACT 3 - The play calling, to date, has been horribly vanilla (with a FEW exceptions). Where have all the shifts gone that Boise State was so famous for? We're not seeing much of that anymore - now that Prince is in charge.

I have heard Bronco Nation make similar complaints over the past few weeks, so let me address each individually.

1. The tight end has disappeared from the offense. Statistically, yes, this is true. Southwick has thrown to fewer tight ends this year, by percentage of throws, than Kellen Moore did last year. However, "disappeared" is too strong of a word. Gabe Linehan has disappeared (one catch in three games, and that one catch was against Michigan State). The tight ends overall have not. They are underutilized, which is either a product of Southwick not reading his progressions, the tight ends not getting open, or Robert Prince not calling tight-end-friendly plays.

2. The play-calling has been predictable. In what sense? That you can predict when the Broncos are going to run or when they are going to pass? Maybe this is true. But I guarantee that you cannot predict where the run is going, who is pulling, what kind of motion will be used, etc. Same for passes: who's the primary receiver, how deep are the routes, what are the route combos, is there play action, etc. A predictable offense is relative.

3. No more shifts and motions. I haven't charted it, so I can't say either way on this one. Anyone have a better memory of how much presnap shifting and motions the Broncos have used? Hit me up in the Statesman comments. Just kidding! Hit me up in the OBNUG comments.

Thought No. 5: Things will get easier.

See the chart below for where Boise State's opponents rank nationally in total defense (yards allowed per game).Stats courtesy cfbstats. HT: Jay.

Team Rank
Michigan State 6
Miami (OH) 113
BYU 7
New Mexico 97
Southern Miss 106
Fresno 59
UNLV 84
Wyoming 99
San Diego State 66
Hawaii 70
Colorado State 79
Nevada 108

No remaining team is No. 50 or above. Huzzah!

If points are more your cup of tea, see the chart below for what Boise State's past, present, and future opposing defense are giving up.

Team Points Allowed
Michigan State 11.8
Miami (OH) 31.3
BYU 12.5
New Mexico 32.3
Southern Miss 38.3
Fresno State 23.3
UNLV 29.3
Wyoming 33.0
San Diego State 26.8
Hawaii 40.0
Colorado State 27.5
Nevada 28.5

There. Feel better?

Pardon our mess

The Great OBNUG Redesign of 2012 has elicited its fair share of opinion - some positive, some negative, several of a sincere boycott tone directed to my inbox. I don't like change any more than the next guy, assuming the next guy hates change. So I'm adjusting with you. Sorry for turning your OBNUG world upside down.

There are positive reasons for SB Nation doing what it did. That said, I'm not interested in pushing corporate vision on you all. I want to know how the changes to OBNUG are affecting you. What's broken? What works? What is up with that logo?

I read some good discussion in the FanPosts this week about the changes. Feel free to keep that conversation going in the comments on this post or share your thoughts with me via email. We'll get through this together, and when SBN redesigns everything again in two-and-a-half years, think of how prepared we'll be.

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