The Falcons will host Boise State at Falcon Stadium on Halloween night at 8 PM MT, trying to turn around both their season and their recent performances against the Broncos. The Falcons come into the game after losing to San Jose State in California, 17-6, hoping to get back All-American candidate Nolan Laufenberg, starting right guard Kyle Krepsz, defensive tackle Kaleb Nunez, backup DB Demani Hansford, and backup tailback Josh Stoner from Covid protocol. Other questionable starters are Kadin Remsberg, Nicholas Noyen, Will Trawick, and Joey Woodring due to injuries incurred in the game against the Spartans.
The Broncos are coming off an impressive 42-13 win over Utah State, racking up 450 yards of offense, holding Utah State to 203 yards of offense and holding a 3-0 advantage in turnovers.
Three things to watch
Will the Falcon running attack return to form?
The contrast between game 1 running game and game 2 running game was so starkly different, it was frustrating to watch. A lot of factors combined to point downward in performance, the largest being the absence of Laufenberg and Krepsz, and later in the game, the injury to Noyen. A second factor was the emergence of the San Jose State front seven, in contrast to their performance last year against the Falcons. The third factor was that the Spartans completely committed to stopping the run, daring the Falcons to pass the ball. The Falcons still managed over 200 yards on the ground, but could not run at will as it had against Navy, and the goal line stand by the Spartans was a huge confidence builder. Against Navy, the Falcons were able to push the entire defensive line back into the end zone, but the Spartans held their ground well.
It looks as though both Laufenberg and Krepsz will return from Covid protocol for the game against the Broncos, but Noyen’s status is unknown. We also know the Bronco front seven will probably be even more stingy against the run than the Spartans and will likely have the same game plan of selling out to stop the run. The Falcons will need to show the Broncos they can do at least some damage with the passing game to get the running game back up to speed.
The final factor in the running game is holding onto the ball. Both fumbles by the Falcons resulted in turnovers and were very harmful. The first was an errant pitch by Daniels on the first drive of the game after the Falcons had marched into Spartan territory on a methodical drive. The second was deep in San Jose territory, and the Spartans quickly turned it into 7 points to make the lead 14-0. They can’t do this against the Broncos if they want any chance at all.
Can the Falcon defense put pressure on Bachmeier?
The inexperienced Falcon defense has shown they are quite capable of holding pretty good offenses in check. An average of 12 points per game against two good offenses is quite good. They will need to turn it up a notch against Bachmeier, et al. In particular, they can’t allow the Boise quarterback to have a lot of time to wait in the pocket while his excellent receivers get open running down the field. The Falcons have been burned a few times down the field, and a pass rush coming from different angles would help. Against the Spartans, Elisha Palm and David Eure did an excellent job holding Tre Walker to only 4 receptions, but Nick Starkel had time to find Bailey Gaither 8 times for over 100 yards, and the Falcons had no sacks in the game.
Who will be able to take the field for the Falcons?
I mentioned above that Laufenberg and Krepsz will likely be back for Saturday’s game. It appears the others out for Covid protocol will also be back. It’s unknown if any of the injured players will play. Brandon Lewis had an impressive game in the dual role of the third option of the triple option, and as the receiver coming out of the backfield. With Lewis’ emergence and Josh Stoner back, the Falcons are covered in the event Remsberg can’t play. With Trawick injured, the Falcons brought in freshmen Jonathan Youngblood and Matt Malloy for playing time at linebacker. In fact, the Falcons ended up playing eight freshmen during the game. Normally in an entire season, it’s rare to see a single freshman play even one game. In a way, it’s a positive for the Falcons going forward, getting playing time for younger players and possibly opening Troy Calhoun’s eyes to the possibility of using freshmen and sophomores more frequently in the future.
When the oddsmakers in Vegas opened their lines for this game they had Boise as an 8 point favorite and a 56 1⁄2 point over/under. That would have been a very opportune time to take Boise to cover and an under for the total score. Currently the line is Boise -14 and an over/under of 49 1/2. I’m not as sure now but I still think Boise will cover, and I think the total will be under. My score prediction is 31-16.
Be aware my score predictions have been way off for the first two games, but I’m 3 out of four on my cover and over/under picks.