What we learned from Boise State's 31-28 win over Washington State

It may have been a game of swinging momentum, but it was Boise State that pulled out the victory on Saturday night. So, now that the celebration has ended, what did we learn from Boise State's 31-28 win over Washington State?

Boise State's defense came of age:

This young Boise State defense impressed against Washington State. They swarmed to the ball, had a lot of really good open-field tackles, contained the Cougars for much of the game, and displayed a toughness and resolve that isn't normally seen in such a young group. The Broncos coaching staff has to be happy with much of what this defense did on The Blue Saturday night. Of course, there is always room for improvement.

A game can be considered a defensive win even when the opposing team gets over 500 yards of offense:

This game was billed as an “offensive showdown.” The over-under was something in the area of 72.5, and many thought the safe bet was the over. However, something happened on the way to the offensive shootout expected in Albertsons Stadium. Defense set the tone of this game early, and it would be a theme that continued until the very last play of the night. While Boise State did allow 520 yards of offense by the Cougars, they contained quarterback Luke Falk and his 71 pass attempts for most of the night. The defense also was on the field nearly twice as long as the Cougars D. Washington state finished with just under 38 minutes time-of-possession. Meanwhile the Broncos had the ball on offense just 22 minutes. Considering the Cougars had nearly twice the time on offense, the Boise State defense holding them to just 28 points in the game is impressive.

The Linebackers showed why they are the strength of the Broncos defense: Ben Weaver, Tanner Vallejo, and Darren Lee led the team in tackles with 15, 14, and 10 respectively. The Boise State linebacker corps was all over the field on Saturday night. This group put on a clinic for tackling in space, and for containing a very potent Washington State offense. These three proved that the linebackers are key to the success of the Boise State defense. They play with a lot of the same grit, and toughness their coach did, and it probably helps having one of the best Boise State linebackers to ever play on The Blue as their defensive coordinator.

Thomas Sperbeck shines again:

What else can be said about this guy? When the Broncos needed him most on Saturday he stepped up big time. He finished the game with seven catches for 133 yards, and a score. This after catching six passes for 130 yards and a touchdown the week before. In both cases Sperbeck, the 6-0, 180 lbs, senior from Carmichael, California proved he is still the number one receiver on the team.

Tyler Horton set the tone:

On Washington State's first drive of the game, the Cougars were deep in Boise State territory. That is, until sophomore cornerback Tyler Horton grabbed the pass from the Cougars quarterback Luke Falk, tip-toed the sideline, and proceeded to take the ball 85 yards for the BSU score. It was his first career interception, the sixth-longest interception return in school history, and the longest since Jamar Taylor in 2011 against Arizona State (100 yards), according to the Boise State postgame notes. It also put the Broncos up 7-0, and set the tone for the rest of the night. That played proved to be the difference in the ballgame. Horton was also honored with MWC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

The Broncos go 2-0 for the first time since 2011:

Boise State has had trouble in the early season the last four years. In fact, this is the first time since beating Georgia 35-21 and then Toledo 40-15 in 2011 that the Broncos have been 2-0. Considering how young this team is, and some of the mistakes made against the Cougars, the sky's the limit for the 2016 team if they can clean up the edges. Now with a week off, and another Pac-12 opponent to plan for, it will be interesting to see how they handle success.

Brett Rypien can have a bad game:

The young true sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien had a tough game. On the night he did have some incredible throws, including a touchdown. However, he also threw three interceptions, and two of those picks were late in the game when Boise State could least afford them. It almost cost them the game. But, Brett Rypien seems challenged by this game. In the postgame press conference he spoke about how he is going to learn from this experience. He seemed very intent on making up for his mistakes. He was quick to take responsibility for his throws, and said he had a hard time watching the last series knowing what had transpired. Something tells me he is going to bounce back in a big way.

Jeremy McNichols continues his streak:

The player they call “McWeapon” continued his McStreak on Saturday night. This was the 14th game in a row when he has had a rushing touchdown. Which, is a Mountain West Conference record. He also looked good running the ball, and seemed to run angry. He broke many tackles, rarely going down with only one tackler, and finished the game with 22 carries and 116 yards on the ground. That included 2 touchdowns, and an additional 25 yards on three catches.

Boise State showed team discipline, even in adversity:

One of the things that can be said about the 2016 Boise State Broncos is that they seem to handle adversity well. Even in the midst of some disastrous turnovers late in the game, the defense stepped up, and continued to play hard. The team overall also showed that they are becoming much more disciplined. The Broncos were only flagged three times on the night, and tackling was text book.

Many of the student's still leave at halftime:

Something needs to get fixed in Albertsons Stadium. The easiest thing would be to have students remain through halftime, and cheer on the Broncos in the second half. However, that has never happened, even in a close game like Saturday night. It's too bad there isn't a way to allow the students, or any person for that matter, to leave the stadium and return. There are probably too many security concerns, etc. But, it would be in the best interest of the school, and the team, to get something figured out so that those students can find their way back into their seats for the second half.

The Broncos can beat the Cougars:

After failing to beat Washington State the four times the two teams have met previously, Boise State finally gets the Cougars off their back. It was a close game, especially late, but the Broncos eventually got a win. That brings the all-time record of BSU versus Washington State at 1-4. Also, since 2006 Boise State is 9-3 against teams from the Pac-12.


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