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Film Study: Boise’s ingredients to a stunning come-from-behind win in Tallahassee

The Broncos pull off an upset of Florida State, and the Mountain West has another star at quarterback

NCAA Football: Florida State at Boise State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, Virginia Tech, Virginia.

Those are just some of the Power Five teams Boise State has beaten over the years. After the Broncos’ come-from-behind 36-31 win last Saturday, add Florida State to the list, too.

Boise trailed 31-13 with four minutes left in the second quarter and rallied for the win Saturday in Tallahassee, handing the Seminoles a fanbase-imploding loss. Sure, the recent Florida State teams haven’t been what they used to be, especially under Willie Taggart, but to go on the road and play that game at a place and time that wasn’t in the original plan, and still come away with a win, it’s really an incredible feat.

In this week’s Mountain West Connection Film Study, we break down how Boise pulled it off. There were three keys to the win: a tough-as-nails true freshman quarterback, pivotal havoc-filled plays from the defense, and maybe most important — preparation.

Hank Bachmeier

In his first collegiate start, true freshman Hank Bachmeier of Murrieta, Calif., went 30 of 51 for 407 yards with one touchdown and one interception. You can look at the numbers and be impressed — that’s fine, because they are impressive.

But what you really need to notice was Bachmeier’s heart. I’m not trying to be cute when I say that, either. I really mean it.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder got lit up time and time again by Florida State’s big and athletic defense, but got up every single time. To face the amount of pressure he did and continue to drag himself off the grass and manage the offense says a lot about this kid. Boise has star at quarterback.

Just look at some of the hits Bachmeier took Saturday. On this play, Boise comes out in 10 personnel (one back, no tight ends) and sends motion to the field side to draw defenders away from the play. Whether this was a straight inside zone or option read, I don’t know. But what I do know is Bachmeier gets pummeled by FSU’s 6-7, 261-pound defensive end Joshua Kaindoh:

On this next hit, Boise comes out in 11 personnel and tight end John Bates detaches for his route. FSU sends a well-timed blitz from Amari Gainer (33) and Hamsah Nasirildeen (23). The Boise running backs did a great job all day of picking up the blitz for the most part, but on this specific play, Andrew Van Buren opts for the outside pressure instead of the inside, and Gainer gets a clean shot:

The hit below could’ve been very scary for Bachmeier with how awkwardly Janarius Robinson, who cleanly beat right tackle John Ojukwu, falls on Bachmeier’s right knee:

One more. This one delivered by 6-5, 311-pound Marvin Wilson (21):

But like I mentioned, Bachmeier got up every time and led the Broncos with some strong and accurate throws, like this 11-yard touchdown to Khalil Shakir out of 10 personnel that capped a seven-play drive and cut the deficit to 31-26 in the third quarter.

Shakir does an excellent job of stutter-stepping a beat before exploding into his slot-fade route against tight man coverage from Carlos Becker. Shakir wins the route and high-points the ball. Becker was beaten so badly that he didn’t have time to turn and look for the ball:

This was another impressive throw from Bachmeier on third-and-17 out of 11 personnel, with tight end Matt Pistone lined up to Bachmeier’s left in the backfield so he can help in protection by chipping the FSU edge rusher.

FSU chose to go with a three-man pressure and drop eight in coverage. With time to scan the field, Bachmeier found Shakir, who settled in between zones:

Was Bachmeier perfect? Nope. But Boise fans have to love what they saw. If he stays healthy, Boise has another long-term starter for the next three to four years.

Havoc-filled defense

Under first-year offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Florida State enjoyed a great start to the game. The Seminoles’ new Baylor-style offense of the Art Briles’ era produced big, explosive plays and 356 total yards in the first half.

Things didn’t look great for the Broncos’ 3-3-5 defense to start. But that changed in the second half. Once Boise’s defense started getting some stops, it seemed like Florida State panicked a bit and started looking for big plays down the field.

I couldn’t help but be impressed with Boise’s nickel safety, Kekaula Kaniho. The 5-10, 182-pounder finished with six tackles and four for a loss. When he was sent on a blitz from defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding, it was fun to watch. This sack and forced fumble resulted in a touchdown for Boise:

Another Bronco defender that had a great game was linebacker Riley Whimpey. He’s the one that fought through a block to strip FSU running back Cam Akers. Boise took advantage seven plays later with that Bachmeier-to-Shakir slot-fade touchdown pass. Look at the effort from the 6-1, 233-pound Whimpey (44):

But Boise’s D-line also got after it in the second half. This sack from Sonatane Lui gave the ball back to Boise just before halftime. The Broncos marched down the field and shifted momentum by getting a field goal to cut the deficit to 31-19.

Watch how the 6-1, 283-pound Lui chops guard Christian Armstrong’s left arm and swims through to get to James Blackman:

The below sack from Chase Hatada on third-and-10 forced the fourth punt of the third quarter for FSU’s offense, which after a hot start had fallen off a cliff. Boise capitalized off this sack with an 11-play drive that ended with a 1-yard plunge from workhorse back Robert Mahone to give Boise a 33-31 lead.

Hatada, a 6-3, 262-pounder, lines up in the B gap but loops all the way to the backside A gap. FSU’s center, Baveon Johnson, wasn’t quick enough:

And how could you forget this next sack from the Mountain West’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Curtis Weaver? Weaver had a quiet game, but with as quickly as a Briles’ offense wants the quarterback to get rid of the ball, it’s not surprising.

But all that running around paid off late in the fourth when Weaver finally got home on Blackman. Weaver easily swam past a tight end to force yet another punt:

Preparation

Not only was FSU outcoached on the field in the second half by Bryan Harsin and his staff, but Harsin had his players prepared to play in the hot and muggy conditions. Boise’s players didn’t look exhausted while FSU’s players were clearly worn out and dropping like flies with cramps.

Maybe that’s due to Boise’s strength and conditioning staff doing an excellent job. But the way FSU was playing on offense could also be part of the reason its defense struggled so much in the second half.

The Seminole defense was on the field for over 40 minutes under the Florida sun compared to just under 20 for Boise’s. Kendal Briles likes to play fast and get a lot of plays in, but when you don’t make first downs, it can really hurt your own defense by sending them back out with limited rest. I think we saw that on Saturday.

And don’t forget the physical running game that Harsin and offensive coordinator Zak Hill implemented. Mahone, George Holani and Van Buren combined for 43 carries. Make no mistake about it: when a defensive line has to go to battle against an O-line, as well as up to three tight ends at times, that gets tough to do deep in the fourth quarter. That’s when manhood gets tested, and FSU’s was on Saturday.