All the pregame talk about San Jose State being trouble for the Broncos was just a tad off. The Spartans weren't the troublemakers. The Broncos were.
Boise State let a mediocre-to-bad SJSU team hang around all game thanks to turnovers and penalties and mistakes. The game could have easily been a blowout. The game should have been a blowout. Here's why:
- Kellen Moore throws an interception for a touchdown. The Broncos were at the Spartan 34-yard-line with a 6-0 lead and on their way to more points.
- Ian Johnson fumble in the end zone. The Broncos had just gone on two straight TD drives, followed by two SJSU three-and-outs. Instead of a 27-6 halftime lead, the Broncos went to the half with a 20-9 lead.
- Jeron Johnson personal foul. On third and ten, Johnson roughed up a SJSU wideout after the ball had sailed harmlessly out of reach. The Spartans got a third down, and three plays later Brandon Rutley rushed for a 60-yard TD, taking advantage of bad positioning by Jason Robinson, who replaced Johnson after his penalty.
Throw in an overturned Efaw TD on a drive that eventually ended in a punt, and the final score could have been at least 42-6.
Yet despite all their flaws, the Broncos still pulled out a 17-point victory. There was a lot to like about the game, too, even though it was painful to watch at times. Jeremy Avery and the Bronco run game showed up when it mattered, and the BSU defense rose to the occasion once more. With New Mexico State, Utah State, and Idaho on the horizon, the Broncos should have plenty of time to build on the momentum from a hard-fought, hard-earned San Jose State win.
We just wish they would make it easier on themselves.
Here are some more thoughts on Friday night's game:
Jeremy Avery, Jeremy Avery, Jeremy Avery ... is a screen pass pick-six the worst form of a pick-six? we think so ... for the first time all season, we were not horribly disappointed with a three-and-out; we actually sort of expected it ... the coach in charge of nudging Dick Tomey every time he fell asleep on the sidelines certainly earned his keep Friday night ... the Spartans pressured Moore as often as any other team we've seen all year ... perhaps George Iloka is still growing into his hands ... when will teams learn to not go for it on fourth down against the Broncos? ... yes, that was a Bronco offense lineman blocking with his back ...
Will Ian Johnson be replaced on the depth chart?
Here's what Jeremy Avery did: 96 yards on 21 carries, hit the hole with conviction, ran hard, did not fumble
Here's what Ian Johnson did: 66 yards on 16 carries, two short TD runs, followed his blockers to his own detriment and that of the team's, fumbled at the goalline completely changing the complexion of the game
What would you do if you were the Bronco coaches? From a fan's perspective, Jeremy Avery was clearly the better back on Friday night. He was the difference-maker on offense when the offense really needed a difference-maker. Don't get us wrong; we still love Ian Johnson. But if Friday night is any indication, Johnson is no longer the best runner for this Bronco offense. He may be a better complete running back than Avery and maybe even a better runner the majority of the time, but Avery fits with the hit-or-miss Boise State O-line better than Ian Johnson does. That's a fact. Or, actually, it's a theory.
The San Jose State offense was far worse than advertised ... disturbing stat of the night: first downs: Boise State 28, San Jose State 9 ... let's not have Austin Pettis throw on trick plays any more ... Kyle Efaw's overturned TD probably should have stayed a TD ... 22 total penalties? Seriously? Glad the refs got that out of their system ... Take away that Spartan defensive line, and SJSU is LaTech ... if Doug Martin's catch and run was a sign of things to come, then we cannot wait for those things to come ...
You can't stop Austin Pettis, you can only hope to pass interfere him
On Boise State's first touchdown of the game, we found it particularly telling how much Pettis is growing as a dependable red zone option. The Broncos called the exact same play - a jump ball to Pettis - two times in a row, and Pettis rewarded them with the third-down catch for a touchdown.
He pulled similar acrobatics against Southern Miss, and later in the San Jose State game, he went up and came down with a deep out. For the first few games of the season, it seemed like Pettis didn't really have a role in the offense. Fortunately, being tall and jumping high will help you define your role as a receiver pretty quickly. We look forward to many more alley-oops from Moore to Pettis as the season goes on.
Godspeed, Steven Reveles arm ... we did not miss Titus Young on Friday, but Kellen Moore's yards-per-attempt average may have ... forget the Ihenachos, that Jarron Gilbert was a beast ... John Gott knows what we're talking about ... who knew offensive skill players would be so good blocking punts on special teams? and when will Vinny Perretta get in on the action? ... if the Broncos never trailed, then why did we pit out our Boise State T-shirt? ...on the Broncos' two TD drives in the second quarter, Jeremy Avery was the primary running back ...
Boise State defense is best defense in the WAC, says SJSU total yards
The San Jose State defense is good. The Boise State defense is great.
The Broncos rolled up nearly 400 yards on the Spartans, which is more than they had against Hawaii, Southern Miss, and Bowling Green. Apart from a scary pass rush and a near-dominant Jarron Gilbert, SJSU was simply decent in the other aspects of their "D."
Boise State, on the other hand, was its usual, tough self. The Spartans barely cracked 200 yards on the night, and if you take away Brandon Rutley's 60-yard touchdown, that number would have fallen below 150 total yards. No one expected the San Jose State offense to be anything special, and it wasn't. But a lot of credit should go to an excellent Bronco defense.