"Whaddya gonna do?"
I probably uttered this phrase at least a dozen times when talking with people about Friday's loss to Utah State. Boise State put together a string of miscues in Logan that made last year's implosion at Air Force look tame, but what lessons can be learned from the embarrassing defeat? I'm not entirely sure I know. Sure, there were Xs and Os that can be dissected and analyzed—and I'm positive the coaching staff has and will continue to find teaching moments, but maybe the biggest takeaway is that football is hard and a LOT of things—both controllable and otherwise—need to go right. Hardly any of them did on Friday night. Boise State was outcoached, outplayed, and outdesired against the Aggies—a team they hadn't lost to since the Macarena topped the Billboard charts yet maybe could've continued their streak had the final item on the aforementioned list been ticked. When the other team wants it more, they'll make their own luck—and 3 turnovers in approximately 85 seconds (all which led to scores) certainly qualifies. Oh...but there were more.
Look, Utah State is a good, well-coached team with some legitimate stars on defense...they did exactly what they needed to do to win that game and Boise State did not answer the bell. But when the wheels start to come off and you're facing Murphy's Law moreso than your opponent, what can you do to turn the tide? I'm not entirely certain you can do anything. Should BSU have knelt the ball before halftime to stop the bleeding and tried to regroup at he half instead of running history's worst 2-minute drill? In hindsight, maybe...but no team is going to quit trying to score or turn their fortunes that early in a game. There was no way of knowing Boise State's meltdown had only just begun at that point...and heck, even after half it wasn't out of our system. So what do you do? Tell the team, "quit fumbling"? I'm pretty sure that wasn't a conscious choice at that point. Sometimes you just have to embrace the chaos that the universe metes out. None of it made sense, but it didn't have to. Each turn over became more and more improbable as the game unfolded, but each and every one of them indeed happened. Turn over enough times and you fall off the bed (into a vat of acid, in Friday's case).
I'm not trying to say there's nothing to learn from the Utah State game...there's plenty. Just like there was plenty to learn last season after the Air Force carnage, but ask yourself if the team that lost to Air Force last year looked like a team that not only could make it to a Fiesta Bowl but win it. Did the Texas team that got steamrolled by TCU look like a team that would thump Oklahoma? The target on Boise State's back is large and the margin of error is small. We could've turned the ball half as many times against the Aggies and still severely harmed our chances of coming away with a victory. The bottom line is that this Boise State team is a LOT of things, but "bad" is not one of them. Inconsistent IS one...and that's bad. Film study, practice habits, and execution can solve much of that, but the psychological game that's played each week is every bit as big a battle. The Broncos regrouped a season ago and I'm sure will find a way to do so again or their mental state in the face of adversity may begin to define them. Frankly, I think we'll be okay.
But also, "quit fumbling."