PROVO, Utah – This is not the same Boise State team we have seen over the past few years, and some may point to this current team being plagued by injuries throughout the year that can not explain a lot of what went wrong on Friday night. Even with the injuries and playing with a backup quarterback, BYU only won 37-20 and did not blowout Boise State.
This was a two possession game in the fourth quarter, but the issues were turnovers and poor tackling. "We did not tackle well enough, " Boise State head coach Chris Petersen said. "They're a physical team, starting with the quarterback. The receivers were big and created a little space. We had chances to hang on, but we were running by them and whiffing."
There were plenty of times where a BYU player just shoved a Boise State defender to the side for a few a few more yards and kept the chains moving, and it happened enough to be a really issue.
Petersen boils it down to the basics, "Tackling on defense and turnovers on offense, it doesn't get more basic then that."
BYU was plus-four in the turnover margin and even with that advantage only won by 17 points, and had to settle for three of four field goals. This game could have, and probably should have, been a huge blowout but Boise State held their own at times in the game.
The first big mistake for Boise State was going for it on fourth down on their first drive. Yes, it was 4th-and-3 at the 35-yard line of BYU, but why not either try the long field goal or do the pooch kick that they have done with Joe Southwick. Going for points would have given the Broncos a 3-0 lead and help give Grant Hedrick some confidence, but the play failed as did most in the first half.
Why not try to challenge the BYU secondary early, because that seemed to work in the second half. The play calling in the passing game was not there, but the running plays were the right calls since Jay Ajayi ended up with 151 yards on the ground.
Looking at the total yards for both teams it was BYU who had 568 yards to Boise State's 499, so the difference was not that big. The four turnovers were the knockout punch. The turnovers could have been avoided because it seemed that the Boise State players were being too cute with the ball trying to make plays and did not secure the ball.
While the game seemed close it was clear that Boise State was not going to win, and another back breaking moment came at the end of the first half when Boise State allowed BYU to score 14 points in a three minute span at the end of the half. It was 10-3 with 4:50 left in the second quarter after a Boise State field goal, but the defense failed them and allowed the halftime score to be 24-3.
BYU made plays and Boise did not, plain and simple. The Broncos offensive line collapse too many times and even though BYU lost to safeties to in-game injuries they still were not able to take advantage.
So what does this mean going forward for Boise State?
They have three losses already and are in danger of not winning 10 games for the first time since 2005 and only the second time since 2001. San Diego State and Wyoming now look like games that Boise State could lose down the stretch.
There are issues with this team and they were put on display tonight with poor ball control and lack of tackling.