The first game of the season is always a nervous adventure. While fans, players, and coaches are eager to get it going, no one can be sure what the product will look like on the field. For Boise State it was no different going into the first game on the schedule against the Ragin' Cajuns of the University of Louisiana.
The game was controlled by Boise State from the opening drive, and ended with a 45-10 thumping of the Cajuns. This was a game that displayed the offensive fire power of the Broncos as they rolled up 584 total yards. But, the defense stepped up as well holding UL to just 267 yards on the day.
The game wasn't perfect for BSU, and you can be certain coaches will be focusing on every needed improvement going into the home opener next week against Washington State. There was much learned in game one, most good, some not so good. Let's look at what we learned from Boise State's game against the Cajuns.
Brett Rypien is who we thought he was:
This really needs little more said about it. Sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien looked comfortable, confident, accurate, and downright impressive in game one. Rypien completed 22 of his 33 pass attempts, for 347 yards, two touchdowns, and finished with a quarterback rating of 175. Not bad at all for a season opener.
The defense stepped up:
This young Boise State defense did a lot of really good things on Saturday morning. They controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game, and it was impressive how players swarmed to the ball. Containment was a worry going into this game, but the defense held UL quarterback Anthony Jennings to just 186 yards passing, and more importantly only 18 yards on the ground.
Speaking of the ground game, McGuire versus McNichols:
In the days leading up to this game much was said about the Ragin' Cajuns running back Elijah McGuire, and while he is impressive, Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols didn't seem to get the same kind of respect. When comparing the two performances in game one, McNichols won the battle.
McGuire finished the day with 14 carries for 46 yards, six catches for 40 yards, and no touchdowns. Meanwhile McNichols carried just nine times for 48 yards, and had 3 catches for 98 yards with three TD's on the day. Combined yardage was 86 for McGuire, and 146 for McNichols.
Cedrick Wilson ladies and gentlemen:
There was a lot of talk about Cedrick Wilson in fall camp. The Broncos seemed to be excited for the JUCO transfer to take the field after what he did in August. It was worth the wait.
Wilson caught 7 passes for 113 yards, and one touchdown. However, he probably also learned a valuable lesson as the ball was swatted out of his hands at the goal line after letting up. He did fall on his own fumble, but you know that will stick with him. Boise State fans should be very excited about another weapon like Wilson playing for the Broncos.
Offensive signature was clear:
This game felt a lot like the Poinsettia Bowl against Northern Illinois. The offense looked very similar. In fact, this offense looked a lot like past offenses when Bryan Harsin was the OC at Boise State. It is probably fair to say Harsin's signature is all over it. Although others contribute, after losing offensive coordinators each of his first two seasons as head coach, Harsin has insured that won’t happen at the end of this season.
Injuries on defense could be costly:
During the game linebacker Joe Martarano and defensive end Gabe Perez had to leave the field. Martarano was later seen watching the game from the sidelines in street clothes wearing a knee brace. Meanwhile Perez seemed to injure his arm, but no word on the extent of either injury. This young defense can't afford to lose too many of its starters, especially going into back-to-back games against Pac-12 opponents.
The humidity was a problem—for Louisiana:
If any team seemed to be sweating it on Saturday it was the Ragin' Cajuns. In all seriousness, it probably wasn't a problem for either team. After much hype and talk about the heat and humidity, once the game started none of it mattered. Also, it sounds like Boise State had been preparing players through diet, and a well drenched and heated up indoor practice facility leading up to the game.
Mattison Avenue is a good place to travel:
True freshman running back Alexander Mattison was the leading rusher of the game. Yes, you read that right. Mattison carried 11 times for 61 yards, and earned his first touchdown as a Boise State Bronco. He averaged 5.5 yards-per-carry, and looked impressive. Devan Demas and Ryan Wolpin also impressed, but it was the new guy that stole the ground game show among backups.
Thomas Sperbeck just keeps impressing:
What else can be said about Boise State senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck? Maybe that he could possibly be a really good option at backup quarterback? Not only did Sperbeck lead the team in reception yards with 130 on six grabs, but he also threw a perfect 48-yard pass to McNichols for a Broncos touchdown.
Other players that shined:
Backup quarterback Thomas Stuart looked good in a cleanup role, and the defensive secondary played well. Although there were no turnovers in this game, coverage was solid most of the day, and several players stepped up.
The Boise State defense accounted for five sacks on the day, with Sam McCaskill leading the way with two. Linebacker Tanner Vallejo led the team with nine tackles, and Cameron Hartsfield was second with eight.
New faces everywhere:
According to the Boise State postgame notes, twenty-one players made their first Division I debut on Saturday. That list included defensive linemen Daniel Auelua, Emmanuel Fesili, Chase Hatada, Sonatane Lui, and Sam Whitney, tight ends Chase Blakley, Matt Pistone and Jake Knight, cornerbacks Reid Harrison-Ducros and DeAndre Pierce, safeties Evan Tyler and Kekoa Nawahine, offensive linemen Garrett Larson, Will Adams, and John Molchon, linebackers Blake Whitlock, Will Heffner, and Tyson Maeva, and wide receivers Garret Collingham, Brock Barr, and the aforementioned Cedrick Wilson. Of this list, eight were true freshmen.
The notes also mentioned that eight players made their first career starts for the Broncos. That list includes center Mason Hampton, tight ends Jake Knight and Chase Blakley, nose tackle David Moa, STUD Jabril Frazier, and safeties Evan Tyler and Cameron Hartsfield.
A good game one:
Overall, this was a great way to start for the Broncos. The 45-10 blowout win should build confidence, give coaches a good idea about areas of needed work, and allowed some young players game experience going into week two. It should hopefully also inspire fans who seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude on this 2016 team.
After a dominant game in Louisiana, It should be rocking at home on The Blue next Saturday as the Broncos look to take down the Cougars of Washington State.