Not often does a team run 115 plays, average 5.6 yards per snap, complete 41 passes and muster only 24 points, let alone suffer defeat. It was that type of wacky contest on November 14 of last season between Boise State and New Mexico.
The Broncos were knee-deep in mass hysteria… except there was no hook-and-ladder trickery, nor was there a Statue of Liberty to close the curtain on a happy ending this time around. The Broncos lost to the Lobos despite handily exceeding New Mexico in yardage, time of possession, third-down conversions, as well as in the penalty department. Call it lucky or call it fair, a win is a win is a win, just as a loss is a loss is a loss, no matter how you cut it.
Fortunately for the undefeated Broncos, revenge hangs in the balance on Friday when they touch down in Albuquerque.
Or does it?
“We’re not talking about revenge. We’ve just got to execute, do our jobs,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said, per the Idaho Statesman. “We’re trying to spend time on the things that really matter, that we can focus on and get better at.”
Harsin isn’t wrong. With a balanced offense based on setting up the passing game with a heavy dose of its rushing attack first; a stout front seven; and a fundamentally sound unit as a whole, Boise State doesn’t need gimmicks to seize its
revenge win this time around.
It just needs to get back to the basics.
The Broncos registered only a pair of scores in six red zone trips during last season’s loss. Drives were halted at the Lobos’ 9, 5, 2 and 15-yard lines courtesy of an interception, a missed field goal, a fumble, and a turnover on downs, respectively. It doesn’t take a six-credit rocket science class to comprehend a team’s chances of winning when faltering in an opponent’s territory.
“We’ve got to do a better job of (red zone) overall. … You’re flirting with fire when you start giving the ball up. It won’t end well for you,” co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Scott Huff said.
So far so good. Boise State enters Week 6 with the No. 25 red zone offense in the nation, completing 12-of-13 drives (.923 percent) with seven of those scores being touchdowns. Getting to the red zone doesn’t seem to pose a problem for the Broncos’ offense; it’ll come down to converting sixes instead of threes.
Simple solutions matter.
Aside from Air Force’s dash-and-gash triple option, Boise State allowed a lone running back to top the century mark last season: Jhurell Pressley of New Mexico, who pranced around the Broncos’ defense to the tune of 132 yards on nine carries.
Pressley is on to the pros, but the Lobos present another back in Teriyon Gipson who could duplicate his former counterpart in Round 2. However, Boise State’s rush defense will be the biggest test for the Lobos ground game up to this point of the season.
A strength-versus-strength matchup features the Broncos’ No. 5 rush defense (72 yards per game allowed) versus the Lobos’ No. 2 running attack (347 yards per game). Ready for another cut-and-dried tactic in nullifying New Mexico’s rushing attack?
Get the lead early.
Boise State hasn’t trailed for a single second over the first four games of the season. An early, commanding lead could force the New Mexico offense to stray away from its running game and force newly-appointed junior quarterback Lamar Jordan to throw the football.
The signal-caller on the opposite sideline is a tad more seasoned.
Brett Rypien ripped 75 passes in last season’s loss. Despite connecting on 41 of those, 10 attempts slipped through the fingers of Boise State pass-catchers; two ricocheted into the hands of New Mexico defenders.
Friday’s task doesn’t require a game plan tweak for Harsin and the Broncos. Should Boise State present its balanced offense, stop the run, and catch the football, the record remains unblemished.
See how easy that is?