As satisfying as most 48-0 wins are, I found myself with a very uneasy feeling during much of the Boise State game tonight. First I chalked it up to post-Oregon malaise...after all, Miami (OH) wasn't expected to put up much of a fight and the atmosphere at Bronco Stadium was much more subdued than last Thursday. Then, on the way to the car after the 48-0 drubbing, it hit me: I expect perfection from the Broncos and when I see small chinks in the armor I worry. This is the lamentable story of a fanatical Boise State fan...they win so often, and so convincingly that we look for things to criticize. Upon further inspection, there wasn't much to criticize about the Broncos performance tonight...they dominated a team that they were supposed to. Was it perfect? Far from it. But the more I think about it, this is cause for great optimism, not hand-wringing...the Broncos have steamrolled their first two opponents of the season and haven't even played their "A-game". More stats and introspection on tonight's win after the jump.
The Bronco defense had 4 picks on the night, and two more just eluded them. George Iloka, Jeron Johnson, Tommy Smith, and Aaron Tevis all registered INTs for the Broncos and Iloka and Johnson grabbed theirs in impressive fashion. The importance of tip drills was on full display as Iloka jumped a Daniel Radabaugh pass to the flat and tipped it one-handed to himself then secured the interception deep in Redhawk territory. Johnson's diving grab was acrobatic, but much more of a "gimme" as it looked like Kyle Wilson had a bead on the throw as well. Both Tommy Smith and Aaron Tevis' picks came after Radabaugh had been spelled by freshman Zac Dysert in the 4th and the Broncos' 2nd string D was largely in place.
The defense again held their opponents to under 200 yards for the second straight week, though it seemed less dominating simply because they gave up many more first downs to the Redhawks than the Ducks. The thing to take from this phenomena is that the Broncos' D simply played the pass a little less aggressively than against the Ducks...giving the Redhawks a bit more cushion to work with on screens and such. The Redhawks were able to get timely first downs by using this strategy more than a few times against the Broncos, which was frustrating until you realized that the Redhawks never once were allowed into the redzone by the Broncos nor were they ever even in position to attempt a field goal. The Broncos held the Redhawks to 38 rushing yards and 156 yards passing. The 14 first downs yielded by the Broncos (against 17 gained by the offense) was more of a smokescreen really...it worked on me...I walked away feeling weird about the effort until the stats set me straight.
Here's your bottom line: though the defense had a different "feel" to it tonight, they were in complete control from whistle to whistle. They've given up just 308 total yards in two games and 8 total points.
When does 48 points not feel like 48 points?
It's hard to feel bad about dropping 48 points on any team, but for the second week in a row the Broncos could've scored even more. They didn't leave quite as many points on the field this week, but their first trip to the redzone saw the Broncos once again fumble a snap. The difference tonight was that the fumble was not followed by yet another, but instead was followed by a beautiful 17 yard touchdown pass. Kellen Moore was 16 of 26 on the night and tossed 4 TDs against just 1 INT. He finished with 307 yards passing and QB rating of 203.8. Moore's uncharacteristic INT that he tossed on goal line would've given the Broncos one more score and Moore 5 TDs on the night...which would have been the most of his career.
The impressive thing about Moore is that he accomplishes these feats in such an methodical, unassuming fashion that I'd honestly forgotten that he'd tossed 4 TDs until I got home. He isn't about razzle dazzle...he just gets the job done. The deep ball has returned with the return of Titus Young. Moore floated a beautiful 54-yard TD strike to Young in the 3rd quarter and shot him a 25-yard crossing pass that Young turned into a electrifying TD scamper right before halftime. The blocking on Young's pre-halftime rumble was a thing of beauty. Young led the Bronco receivers with two scores and racked up 114 yards on just 6 catches.
Austin Pettis led all receivers in yardage by outstripping Titus by a yard. Pettis' 115 yards came on just 4 catches...one of which was a 65-yarder that looked like it would be an easy score until Pettis was ran down on the endzone's doorstep. Pettis also had a TD grab.
The rushing attack took a while to take off, and was by no means dominant...but had it's bright spots and ultimately garnered a respectable 127 yards on the night along with 3 TDs. DJ Harper led the backs for the second straight game, putting up near identical numbers against the Redhawks as he did against the Ducks. Harper finished the night with 89 yards on just 13 attempts (6.8 YPC) and a rushing TD. Avery didn't get into as much of a flow and was ultimately outgained by Doug Martin, who didn't come in until the 4th quarter. Martin had 2 TDS and 28 yards on just 6 carries.
The streak has ended
Kyle Brotzman's strange season continued tonight as he missed the first PAT of his career. Brotzman had safely put through 118 PAT kicks until tonight, when a bad snap caused him to kick the ball at a terrible angle which missed badly. Brotzman let his disappointment about the PAT miss go to his head as he lazily kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds...a big no-no on a kickoff.
No happy returns
Kyle Wilson was stymied tonight by high kicks and good coverage. The Miami (OH) punter got good hang-time on his kicks and the cover teams provided great coverage...never really allowing Wilson to get much chance to take off. In fact, the Broncos didn't really have an opportunity for a return until the 4th quarter, when Wilson was spelled by frosh Chris Potter. Potter showed some good moves on his attempts and had nice little returns...I swear, if that kid wasn't wearing a number 3 I would say that Vinny Perretta is still on the team.
I'm going to get you, Aaron Tevis
With about 2:30 left in the ball game, I was already tasting my free RAM dinner as it looked like my 41-0 prediction would come to fruition. Then, Aaron Tevis had to intercept a pass deep in Redhawk territory and give the Broncos one more scoring opportunity. The Broncos cashed in...my RAM dinner cashed out. Thanks alot, Aaron. Tevis leads the team, BTW, with 2 INTS.
Fresno did the Broncos' SOS no favors when they frittered away their game at Wisconsin earlier today, but the Bulldogs look like they will be a formidable foe when Boise State visits the Valley this Friday, nonetheless. Ryan Colburn shows some poise, and the Bulldog rushing attack is fierce. The Broncos have a short week to focus on what has become a heated rivalry (if not a very lopsided one). The Broncos don't usually get the Bulldogs this early in the year and Fresno is decidedly a September team. I expect a good game next weekend and know that the Broncos will need to work out their offensive kinks and reignite the spark on defense to get over on the Bulldogs. Fresno is certainly no Miami (OH)...of course, the Broncos are no Wisconsin either.
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Did I leave anything out? How about that J.C. Percy, huh?