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Game Thoughts: Southern Miss Edtion

We didn't win the box score for the game, but thankfully the game is not decided by who has the most flashy box score numbers. Our defense kept Southern Miss locked down for most of the afternoon, and the Broncos capitalized on a giving Southern Miss team. Unfortunately for Southern Miss, the phrase "the more you give, the more you receive" did not ring true for the Golden Eagles. Lets get to it.

Boise States first drive probably had many fans thinking "is this the best guy we have?" Or "Why can't Southwick make better decisions?" Etc etc. However Kirby was open, Southwick didn't put enough zip on the ball. Other than that mistake (not in judgement, rather a mistake in arm strength, but nonetheless a mistake) Southwick's decision making was pretty good. To add some perspective to the Southwick non supporters, these numbers may give some perspective: Taylor Tharp's 5th game as a starter he faced New Mexico State, and was 19-26 for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns, completing 73 percent of his passes. Kellen Moore's 5th game as a starter he faced Southern Miss on the road, and went 21-30 for 170 yards, 3 touchdowns, and one interception, completing 70 percent of his passes. Yesterday, Southwick was 18-27 for 195 yards 3 touchdowns, and one interception, completing 66 percent of his passes. However, being a former quarterback, I have to recognize the dropped passes, which I know Southwick had three drops yesterday, factor in those drops and he completes 77 percent of his passes.

The offense wasn't staggering, in fact we were pretty inconsistent at times. We were 2-11 on third down, a number that must get better. It seems as if we are going through a good game/bad game pattern. Against BYU we had a bad game on third down, New Mexico was a great game for us on third down, and against Southern Miss we had a bad game on third down. I am not sure why but there were some glaring issues that reared their ugly head on occasion. First, I mentioned we had three dropped passes which can cause us to lose a close game this year... it can be that bad. I hate to play the "what if game," but if we catch those passes how does it effect our momentum, play calling, and future execution? From my past experience as a player and fan, catching passing has a positive effect on momentum, execution, and future play calling. The dropped passes do kill momentum, they do cause frustration on the coaches and players part, and they let the defense off the hook. Dropped passes, dumb penalties, and missed blocking assignments all play in the part of the 2-11 on third down statistic. Against BYU we had WAY too many drops, dumb penalties, and missed blocking assignments and we finished a mere 4-15 on third down. Are some of you seeing a correlation between the third down conversion and failing to make plays or take care of "the little things?" If we are to be where we want to be at the end of the year, we must make the catches, must make the blocks, must make the right reads, and must make the right blocking assignments, otherwise, we will have underachieved.

At times our offensive play calling was pretty darn good, but at other times, I think there were fans who wanted to see more Jay Ajayi and a little more aggressive play calling. We did some good things, we got Shane Williams-Rhodes the ball in the open space, our wide receivers blocked well on the outside, and most importantly, our offense took advantage of the giving Southern Miss team. The Broncos recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes. What I love about our defense this year, is we are taking advantage of our opponents mistakes. When teams put the ball on the ground, we are recovering it, when team are throwing the ball over the middle, we are intercepting passes. Bronco fans, in years past, how many times have we seen teams throw the ball right at our defensive backs, and our defensive backs have dropped those passes? We aren't at 100% yet, but our team is getting those turnovers, and it is making a world of difference. We get a turnover deep in Southern Miss territory and one play later we get a touchdown to Matt Miller. Short fields make it much easier on teams that are lacking razor like execution. Much credit goes to our defense for making the best of those fumbles and interception opportunities, and much credit goes to the offense for getting the ball into the end zone yesterday. For this reason, is why coaches always stress winning the turnover battle in regards to a key to winning the game. We must take care of the ball on offense, and we must take the ball away from our opponents on defense. Our defense may not be full of NFL draft picks, may not have the prestige of teams past, but we are getting turnovers like crazy, and that is winning game for us.

I was a bit worried with the spread offense that Southern Miss runs, but for the most part, damage was done up the middle and not through the outside. Even after Anthony Alford was brought in, we were not ravaged by the quarterback or running back running wild on the outside. That is a good sign, it means our defensive ends stayed at home and forced the quarterback to give the ball. I would like to see our defensive backs tighten up a bit when Alford came in to the game to pass more. To me it appeared that we were conceding some aspects of the passing game. I know we were up by a big margin and its hard to keep the pedal down and maintain class at that point, but I hope that does not bite us in the remaining games.

One thing that pleased me was the opportunities we had at taking a field goal or going for the touchdown. We took the 3 points and that benefited us. I could tell that the points had a positive impact on our momentum and overall team well being. I liked what we did. We have a better opponent coming into town next Saturday. We need the fans to fill the stadium. This could be a very close game and we need to play well. I can see our team making improvements each game, and that is a positive thing to build on.