Boise State will be facing option teams back-to-back in the next two weeks in New Mexico and Air Force, and Bronco head football coach Bryan Harsin addressed the media today regarding Saturday's game with the Lobos. Harsin explained the difficulties of playing an offense that runs the option.
"When you're playing a team that has multiple options of who gets the ball, you have to do your job, and they're counting on guys not to do their job. And that happens, and that's why they've won games and been explosive."
The Broncos have built a reputation of stopping the run and prided themselves on that ability, and yet Boise State had considerable trouble last year. Harsin, defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, and the Bronco defense remembers well the experience last year in Albuquerque, when New Mexico exploded for 42 points in the first half.
"Obviously, there were some missed tackles," Harsin said. "There were some missed assignments, and they've got guys that can take advantage of it. In the second half, we made adjustments, we played better, and we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. It took some time, for whatever reason, to get it figured out, and we need to obviously do that a lot sooner than we did last year."
So how does a defense stop the option?
"It's being disciplined, just doing your job," Harsin explained. "You have to be able to tackle in space. You've got to make some one-on-one tackles. You want to have guys pursuing to the ball so if it doesn't happen, at least it slows 'em down so you can get the tackle,"
As to why the Lobo defense was able to hold down Utah State's offense, which had scored 50 or more points in three straight games, to 13 points in a 14-13 New Mexico win last Saturday, Harsin said that the Lobos are running a little bit different scheme, but they're just better. "They're more physical; they've tackled better. Guys are making more plays--you're probably seeing more guys to the ball."
Harsin also spoke to the tendency for defensive backs to get lulled to sleep against the option, playing the run play after play and then getting burned on a long pass play.
"You want to get in on the action, and all of a sudden, the eyes go inside, they try to get into a run fit of some kind, and that guy....he's running by you. It comes back to the discipline--do your job, do your part."
Harsin said that, while the Broncos won't be getting Donte Deayon, Dylan Sumner-Gardner, Rees Odhiambo or Ryan Finley back, some of the players that had minor injuries had a chance to heal a little bit and get into the training room to get themselves healthy.
The Bronco coaches used the bye week to recruit, and Harsin commented that that has gone well. "I think the response has been good," he said. "I think the coaches have a better formula of guys we're evaluating and trying to get. Boise State's brand...over the course of the last few years--kids are excited about it. When they have an opportunity to come here and see what this place has to offer, when it comes to the total package, I think that's the biggest key ingredient."