Boise State Broncos (0-1) will be at home Saturday to host the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (1-1) of the Mid-American Conference. The Broncos, coming off a bitter defeat, will have had two weeks to rebuild and shore up an offensive line that failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 1997. The 17-13 loss at #10 Michigan State dropped the Broncos out of polls to #26 nationally. But a couple of decisive wins should jump the Broncos back up into the top rankings.
Boise State’s new offensive coordinator, Robert Prince, is off to a sluggish start so far with a team that lost standouts QB Kellen Moore and RB Doug Martin from last season's explosive squad. But in the fast paced world of college football those two should be an ancient memory and the new Broncos offensive team should have been better prepared to take to the gridiron. Had it not been for the defense that performed well in spite of having their own problems to deal with, it could very well have been a Spartan blowout.
Some of the things head coach Chris Petersen has focused the Boise State team on is to improve the running game. When the leading rusher is the QB, Joe Southwick, 6-1, 187 lbs, who ran 4 times for 18 yards, it is time to take a second look at the performance of the O-line. RB D.J. Harper, 5-9, 205 lbs, was only able to generate 8 total yards on 15 carries against Michigan State’s defenders. It didn’t help that RB Jay Ajayi, 6-0, 222 lbs, LS Chris Robertson, 6-0, 228 lbs, WR Dallas Burroughs, 5-8, 173 lbs, and backup QB Jimmy Laughrea, 6-1, 200 lbs, were not there to help out the team after being suspended for the game for breaking team rules.Maybe they can show up to help make a difference this weekend against the RedHawks. But just to make sure the offense has all the tools it needs, true freshmen RB Jack Fields, 5-9, 194 lbs, TE Hayden Plinke, 6-4, 255 lbs, and WR Shane Williams-Rhodes, 5-6, 154 lbs, will not be redshirting this season.
The Broncos offense will be going against a RedHawk defensive unit that gave up a whopping 528 yards and 27 first downs to Ohio State in their season opener. Of those, 294 of those years were given up against the run. Last week, Southern Illinois ran for 154 yards in their loss to the RedHawks. So look for the Broncos to use the run extensively Saturday to try and generate a running element to what has been a very anemic and ineffective offense so far this season.
The Miami (Ohio) RedHawks went 4-8 last season after winning the MAC title in 2010. But this year they have returned 16 starters. One of those is QB Zac Dysert, 6-4, 248 lbs, who threw for 303 yards against Ohio State in their opener, and last week added 226 yards to his stats by completing 28 of 36 passes. One of Dysert’s targets is WR Nick Harwell, 6-1, 193 lbs, who caught 11 passes last week for 141 yards including a TD against Southern Illinois. Also helping Dysert in the backfield will be RB Spencer Treadwell, 5-10, 201 lbs., who is averaging 4.3 yards a carry so far.
The RedHawks will be charging against a young Boise State defense that gave up huge chunks of green turf to Michigan State’s star RB Le'Veon Bell, who alone had 50 touches for 210 yards. Hopefully, those holes have been plugged by Boise State’s new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. He had to break in nine new starters this season. One thing he has done this week is to give the starting jobs at defensive ends to Samuel Ukwauchu, 6-4, 222 lbs, and Demarcus Lawrence, 6-3, 242 lbs.
Boise State is a 20.5 point favorite going into Saturday’s contest. Considering that Miami (Ohio) lost their opener to #19 Ohio by a score of 59-10, the Broncos need to win with big numbers if they want to begin the climb back into the top rankings.
That climb begins at 2 PM MT at Bronco Stadium and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.