On Saturday morning I actually wrote the following words about the San Jose v. Hawaii game:
There was one positive side effect of this game for me. I honestly think that Boise State will not have much of a problem with Hawaii when they meet. I don’t even care that it’s on the islands. Hawaii will not have played a team that is even CLOSE to Boise State in terms of quality. Our defense is down right scary right now. I think the Warriors are in for a surprise with what team shows up November 23rd. Boise State certainly isn’t the same team that lost at Washington. Our strengths, quality running game and stout defense, are the exact ingredients in the recipe on how to handle Hawaii.
Allow me to just say, um… yeah… forget all that.
If you haven’t heard, you can read about what happened in the wildest game I have seen in Bronco Stadium, probably ever. I’m going to give you a slightly less balanced view.
We got the ball following the opening kickoff and preceded to march down the field and score a touchdown and start what, I and maybe the whole crowd thought was the next blowout. Well, Nevada had other ideas. By the end of the first half, the score was a very game like 28-21 with Boise State leading. I figured that Nevada had showed up, but the defense would make corrections at half time, and win the second half by 2 touchdowns. In the immortal words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!”
I have to say, for the record, that I have never seen a defense… make that two defenses… play so badly in my whole life. Then again, just about nobody has, since that game was the highest scoring D1 football game in recorded history (since 1937 when they started keeping records). We have seen Boise State’s offense make a lot of defenses look silly, but I have never seen ours look so bad. Maybe during the Washington State blowout of ’97 of 58-0, but that was at Pullman. On the Blue? It simply doesn’t happen.
It certainly doesn’t happen exactly one week after our defense played the most dominant game I have ever seen a defense play. I have a few contributing theories as to why Nevada was able to run and run and run and run on our up-until-this-point impregnable defense.
1.) Freshman safety Jeron Johnson was out. I know it sounds funny to say that we were missing a freshman, but I think if he were in the game, its totally different. See, he is a big physical kid who excels at stopping the run and punishing runners. His backup is senior Austin Smith, while great in coverage, was absolutely getting run over last night. He was simply not strong enough to put a hat on the runners and make them think twice. When you combine him with our other safety Marty Tadman who is a great player, but again, certainly not the biggest guy you’ve ever seen, that is a recipe for run game problems.
2.) I think that the Bronco D might have been reading its press clippings. Following last weeks game, they were being called the most dominant defense Boise State has ever had, blah blah blah. No matter what you say, cocky and impressionable 18-22 year old athletes will be influenced by that. For example, look that last year’s national championship game. For an entire month, Ohio State read how they would win the game in a rout over Florida. What happened? Florida absolutely dominated OSU. You know why? Because Florida was reading the same clippings. Which brings me to number 3.
3.) The Idaho Statesman did us ZERO favors with their very disrespectful game day article (and horrible cartoon) about how Boise State has “Owned!” (their headline in huge print) Nevada over the last 6 years. Not only that, right below that article was an opinion column about how Boise State is impervious to upsets, including the quote, “And the Broncos won’t lose this one, either.” I mean, if I was Nevada, I would have been PISSED having read that. I’m sure that had a lot to do with them being fired up. Now, I know it is not the Statesman’s job to help Boise State win football games. But at the same time, I know it is REALLY not their job to help Boise State LOSE games. I mean, if you want to run something inflammatory like that, do it the day after the game. When the coaching staff and players go to great lengths to not give the opponent bulletin board material, only to have the local newspaper come along and give Nevada all the motivation they need, that is a real stab in the back. Which brings me to point 4.
4.) Never underestimate the effect of last years game on this years game. Last year, our regular season ended with an absolute domination of Nevada on their turf. Not only did they not show up, but in that pounding we earned our Fiesta Bowl birth. Not only did we humiliate them on the field, after the game, about 7000 Boise State fans stormed the field and celebrated like it was a home game. Nevada had a whole year to stew about that. I mean, just last week, Boise State did the same thing in their game against New Mexico State, feeling disrespected from last years game. They got fired up and crushed NMSU. Nevada turned the tables on us.
I am simply astounded by how Nevada was able to run the ball. I don’t have the exact stats, but I think they had to have had at least 10-15 running plays of 15+ yards. They made us look slow. Even when we stopped them solidly, that wasn’t before they had 4 or 5 yards. Usually, we stop those in the backfield, and their long runs are 4 or 5 yards.
I swear, Nevada ran about 4 plays on offense. Running back left. Running back right. Quarterback naked bootlegs both left and right. They didn’t have to run anything else because those worked every single time. I swear, I saw their QB sprinting down the sideline like a gazelle in my dreams last night. Maybe “nightmares” would be more appropriate. Ugh. Makes me sick to my stomach.
Coach Petersen had a funny quote in the post game show. Paul J asked him if he had ever, on any level, been involved in a game with 136 total points scored to which Coach Pete replied, “Yeah, but it was an 8th grade basketball game.”
Enough railing against the defense. I will say this, our offense is amazing. They obviously kept us in the game. Here are the results of every Bronco possession in the game (including overtime): TD, punt, TD, TD, TD, interception (right before half), Field Goal, Field Goal, TD, fumble (when Ian tried to give the game away), Field Goal, TD, TD, Field Goal, TD. I mean, you gotta score a LOT to win when your opponent scores 67 points.
Nevada made a couple of the worst decisions I have ever seen in the 3rd overtime. They had just ran it for 16 yards down to the Boise State 9 yard line. They rush it again, and get down to the 6. Then, for some reason, they throw a pass that is incomplete. In their bumbling, they end up taking a 5 yard delay of game penalty, and follow that up by having to take a timeout. So, its third and goal from the 11. What play do they come out of the timeout with? Bear in mind, they are AVERAGING over 7 yards a carry for the game at this point, and in overtime alone they have 2 touchdown runs of 25 yards each, and a 16 yard run. So, what do you think they do? Nope. They have their freshman QB who has rushed for 170+ on the night throw a pass. Incomplete. Kick the field goal. Now, I don’t know what their coaches were thinking and I was screaming that in the stands after their kick, “How can you throw it twice in a row in this situation!?” Not that I’m upset they did, but still…
I really liked how our offense came out in the first 2 overtimes. Both times, one play, pass, touchdown. I said it was like they came out and said, “we are NOT losing the f*cking game! We’re done screwing around.” Of course, that was until the sieve-like defense came in and gave up another touchdown.
I have to say as well, our special teams are nails. I mean, our freshman kicker Brotzman drilled a ton of game-on-the-line kicks. We blocked an extra point of theirs late to force overtime (essentially). The fake field goal touchdown pass we threw in the 2nd quarter.Â They “sky kicked” their kickoffs almost the whole gamecontent to give us a starting position of the 35 or 40 yard line (because they were afraid of our return game), but late, when they did kick away, Rashaun Scott took it back to their 40, and almost broke the whole thing. There are so many performances in this game that if they don’t happen, we don’t win. Amazing.
When it was all said and done, that game felt like it was about 8 hours long, when in actuality it was only 4. I can’t say it was as exciting as the Fiesta Bowl, but it was pretty close. I know I’ve said it before, but I don’t like games like this when the Broncos are involved. Any other two teams? I love it. I can’t handle it when it’s Boise State. My heart can’t take it. My guts can’t take it. I much much prefer the 58-0 when I can just sit back and relax.
That final play for Nevada, they needed the 2 point conversion to tie it up. Again, they have been running roughshod over us for 4 hours. They need 3 yards. What do they do? Pass (and get sacked to end the game). WHAT?! I don’t care that their coach Chris Ault is in the Hall of Fame… those are some of the worst decisions I have ever seen. I really think that they WAY over-thought the situation, instead of just sticking with what works until the defense proves they can stop it. Just bad coaching all the way around there.
Following last weeks game, I felt totally confident we could run the table and beat everyone left on our schedule, including Hawaii. Now? Pretty much the exact opposite. I’m legitimately nervous for next Saturday at La. Tech (especially with a “short” week).
In this season of college football, the one constant is that anyone can beat anyone. And that scares the hell out of me.