It's been a long time since Boise State has opened the football season with a loss. With opening victories over BCS powerhouse teams such as Oregon, Virginia Tech, and Georgia, Bronco fans have been truly blessed with big victories on the biggest of stages.
Friday night was a roller-coaster of a ride, with no shortage of highs and lows. Thankfully there was also no shortage of Tums in my medicine cabinet because my Papa Murphy's pizza sure was greasy.
Join me now after the jump as we embark on a task of tradition and discuss the Three Stars and One Goat of Boise State's loss to Michigan State.
Naming Three Stars is a hockey tradition that over the past few years has also become a
Bronco tradition. More info here, if you're interested.
Naming the Three Stars and One Goat has become a tradition here at OBNUG. It's not always easy to do, especially as a completely judgmental and biased party. Thankfully I've only had to do three of the "loss" articles in the past several years. If it becomes too much more frequent, I have already written my letter of resignation.
Now on to the Stars!
Star No. 3 - Special Teams, Star No. 2 - Defense, Star No. 1 - Le'Veon Bell
Star No. 3: Boise State Special Teams
Boise State special teams has long had a tradition of excellence. Unfortunately, a few missed field goals in recent years has soured our memories. However, the Broncos played exceptionally well on Special Teams Friday night. Michael Frisina was two for two on field goals and one for one on PAT's, scoring half of our points himself.
Trevor Harman, who I admittedly have a slight man crush on, was punting the ball as good as ever. It was unfortunate that we had to punt the ball five times on the night, but fortunate that Trevor was the man doing it.
Given the recent rule changes regarding touchbacks, it was interesting to see both teams kicking the ball short of the goal line, subsequently forcing their opponent to return the ball.
I'm excited about Frisina's newfound confidence in winning the starting role. On one of the biggest stages in college football, when everyone seemed to be watching, he stepped up and made some clutch field goals. The offense was not moving the ball like how we needed it, but Frisina kept us in the game right down to the wire. I think this is a step in the right direction and Bronco fans should be proud of the results we produced on Special Teams Friday night.
Congratulations to all you special, Special Teamers for a job well done and earning Star No. 3 of Boise States loss to Michigan State.
Star No. 2: Boise State Defense
I knew our defense was going to be good this year. Anyone that attended the fall scrimmage could likely say the same. So what if we lost half our defense to the NFL last year? With returners like Jamar Taylor, Jerrell Gavins, Michael Atkinson, and J.C. Percy (only to name a few), our defense seemed destined for glory. Throw into the mix the likes of Lee Hightower, Jeremy Ioane, Blake Renaud and Demarcus Lawrence, and they have the potential to be one of the top defenses in the country.
It sure was nice to see Jeremy "The Pineapple Express" Ioane in full rhythm against a formidable opponent. He has long been one of the most highly anticipated recruits in Bronco history. He fizzled out a bit last year after a shaky start, but really showed what he is capable of on Friday night. With our only touchdown of the night, Ioane intercepted a tipped ball (one of the many), and returned it 43 yards for a score. His poofy Hawaiian hair floating behind him was a sight to behold.
I loved seeing the new guys step up and prove themselves on such a big stage. Newcomers Bryan Douglas and Darian Thompson combined for 11 tackles and a forced-fumble-fumble-recovery. I know many of you are sitting at home right now, reading this, and being "armchair bloggers" and saying, "Hey, man! What about that 210 yards on the ground they gave up to Le'Veon Bell?!". To you I say, A: the MSU offensive line was simply better than our defensive line, and B: Le'Veon Bell is a freaking animal.
The Bronco D had 3 interceptions on the night coming from Ioane, Taylor, and Hightower. Jamar almost had a second one, and there were countless others that got their hands on tipped balls. Partly because we're good, and partly because Andrew Maxwell is color blind.
I saw great things on Friday night (looking at the positive here, folks), and am looking forward to this defense progressing and developing as a unit in the coming months. Congratulations, boys, on earning Star No. 2 of Boise State's loss to Michigan State.
Star No. 1: Le'Veon Bell
Le'Veon Bell is an animal. There really is no other way to put it. In a game of inches, Bell ran miles around, on top of, and even over the Broncos defense. Need I remind you of this?
Yeah, yeah, I know, you've seen it 436 times on ESPN already. Unfortunately for us, the hype likely won't stop, and in all honesty, it shouldn't. Le'Veon Bell is all he is cracked up to be. He looked like a man among boys out there (with all due respect to the boys who are actually men in their own regard) at times. Le'Veon Bell ran hard every single play. And since Le'Veon touched the ball 44 times on the ground, he evidently was Michigan State's only play.
However, I can't hate Michigan State for going with what was working. Bell ran all over us. Our O-Line simply could not push him back. Maxwell played average at best, but still got his team a win in his first start under center. However, Le'Veon Bell deserves all the recognition in the world for moving that offense. And he could have done more if it wasn't for Mark Dantonio and his high level of class in taking a knee at the end (nice to see other coaches out there trying to be like Pete).
Le'Veon was frustrating as hell as a Bronco fan. He was exciting as hell as a Michigan State fan. And simply as a fan of athletics, he was nothing short of Star No. 1. Congratulations, Le'Veon, on being Star No. 1 of Boise State's loss to Michigan State.
The Goat: Offense
Now that we have our Three Stars, it seems only appropriate that we mention our goat. For the first time in a long time, The Boise State offense is the official goat of the game.
Now before everyone goes straight down to the comments and demands that resignation letter I mentioned above, please read to the end and give me a fair shot.
For the first time in 15 years, Boise State's offense did not score a touchdown. That's a tough pill to swallow, especially coming from the success we've enjoyed the past few years. And that, ladies and gentlemen, may be the biggest problem - and we've done it to ourselves. Joe Southwick is not Kellen Moore. Joe Southwick can run, he is a dual threat quarterback. Joe Southwick can throw a deep ball that Kellen can't touch. Joe Southwick plays with his heart on his sleeve, actively displaying his emotions. There are so many good things about Joe Southwick, just like there is about Kellen Moore. But comparing Joe to Kellen is simply unfair and unrealistic. These two quarterbacks are so different in every way they play the game.
But make no mistake that Joe is a winner. Coach Pete believes in Joe, and I believe in Joe. I may have been a bit harsh on him as I took to Twitter after the game, but my devotion to him as our quarterback is unchanged. I saw so much good that has me optimistic about the next two years.
I also saw a lot of bad. There is not one person to blame for the bad. The offensive line wasn't blocking. D.J. couldn't get through. Burks, Burroughs, Moore, Potter, and Miller all had dropped balls. Meanwhile, Coach Pete's son is busy texting on the sidelines. C'mon, kid!
Thankfully, Coach Pete has two weeks to remedy our mistakes. Joe is going to have to start going through his reads and not throwing the ball to a pre-determined target. The line is going to have to start making some holes for our backs. Our receivers need to get open. And when they get a ball thrown to them, go at it 100% and leave nothing on the field.
There are A LOT of changes to be made. Having said that however, I am optimistic. I can't wait for BYU at home. Those pesky Cougars probably think they've already got this thing in the bag. Pete will take the necessary measures to bring the offense up to speed and in line with the defense. Joe will get better with every single game. Jay Ajayi will be back (which I think will help a lot - we need a bit more power than what D.J. can give).
Let's rally around Joe and the rest of these boys and show them that we still love and support them. I fully expect September 15th to be a sell out crowd. Make it happen, Bronco Nation.
Did I get the stars right? How about the goat? If not, who were your picks? Sound off in the comments, Bronco Nation!