The Broncos had a short week to prepare for the Lobos, but the team did a good job getting ready. It had to be a satisfying victory for Boise State after losing last season to the Lobos on The Blue, and probably just as satisfying that they were able to contain the dreaded triple-option. A lot was learned in this contest on the field of University Stadium Friday night. Let's look at some of those lessons.
Brett Rypien played inspired.
Earlier in the week quarterback Brett Rypien and his family suffered the loss of his grandmother Terry Rypien. He had lost his grandmother on his mom's side (Margaret Tormey) earlier this season, and in his post-game interview with the press he expressed the challenge and the emotion of it all. However, he also said he believed both of them were with him on the field Friday night. The young quarterback was scheduled to return home to Spokane Saturday for services to be held over the weekend, and to be with his family.
Rypien's numbers were impressive.
New Mexico was able to stop Boise State on its first drive of the night. However, that would not be the case for the next seven. On the second drive of the game Quarterback Brett Rypien led the offense down the field 81 yards on 12 plays, and capped it off with a seven yard toss to Cedrick Wilson for the score. On the next drive Rypien hit Wilson again for a 53-yard touchdown. Running back Jeremy McNichols scored on the next drive for the Broncos early in the second quarter, and then Rypien threw a laser to Thomas Sperbeck for a 54-yard score to make the game 28-7 at that point. The next drive it was more Rypien as he connected with Wilson once again for a perfect 8-yard pass in the corner of the end zone. That made the game 35-7, but Rypien and the offense weren't done with their first-half onslaught. Rypien capped the next drive off with a 35-yard pass to Sperbeck for a score with a little over a minute to go in the second quarter. Rypien would finish the game 21-of-28 for 391 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. However, 19 of those completions, and 368 of those yards came in the first half. If he doesn't earn the MWC offensive player of the week I will be mystified.
Cedric Wilson is a weapon.
On Friday night Boise State wide receiver Cedric Wilson proved once again why he is such a weapon for this Broncos offense. Not only did he grab nine passes for 167 yards, but he also had three touchdowns to go along with those gaudy numbers. What might be most impressive is his ability to go up and grab those tight passes in the corner of the end zone. It's a safe place for a quarterback to throw a pass, and when you have a receiver like Wilson willing and able to go up and get the ball, it makes it nearly impossible to defend. If Wilson continues to improve this season, it is going to be mind-boggling where he and this offense will be by bowl season.
Thomas Sperbeck has to be related to Steve Largent.
While Wilson had one more touchdown than Sperbeck, it was actually Sperbeck who led the team in receiving yards Friday night. He finished with nine catches for 198 yards, and two TD's. His crisp routes, deceptive moves, and his ability to catch almost anything, continues to frustrate opposing defenses. As it stands now Sperbeck is just 105 yards behind Titus Young for the Boise State all-time receiving yards record. He is also just one game shy of tying the record for 100-yard games set by Ryan Ikebe spanning the 1993-96 seasons.
When you meet him, you wouldn't think, “oh this guy is a division-one football player.” Even if you knew he was on the roster at Boise State, you probably would never say, “oh, this guy is a superstar wide receiver.” That's what makes Thomas Sperbeck so special. At 6', 180 lbs. Sperbeck isn't the typical dominant player in college football. However, he has proven over, and over again that he can play this game at the highest level. He reminds me a lot of former NFL great Steve Largent, and I think if given the chance at the next level, Sperbeck will shine bright on Sundays as well.
And then there was one.
Boise State is now the only team in the FBS to not have trailed in a game this season. Miami was the other team going into this last week of competition, but the Hurricanes fell to Florida State 20-19. The most impressive thing about this stat is that the Broncos haven't yet peaked. This young team continues to improve.
An interesting thing has been happening this season. First, Boise State has won every coin toss. Yes, every coin toss. Second, the team has chosen to receive the ball, and start on offense in each of those five coin toss victories. It goes against the usual “differing to the second half” that most teams seem to choose. However, since when does Boise State do things like everyone else?
McNichols is still streaking.
Running back Jeremy McNichols scored two touchdowns in Friday night's game. That makes 17 games in-a-row in which the talented back has found the end zone.
The Broncos have a photographic memory.
I am not suggesting that the impromptu photo taken by the New Mexico football team was actually bulletin board material for Boise State last week. However, I am suggesting that last season's loss for the Broncos did help to motivate some of the players this week. In his post-game press conference wide receiver Cedric Wilson mentioned how he thought that a lot of the guys didn't really like the way New Mexico celebrated on The Blue last season, and noted that it was “kind of a chip on our shoulder.”
Leading tacklers were who?
Boise State safety Chanceller James, and redshirt sophomore linebacker Joe Provenzano led Boise State in tackles on Friday night. James had eight total, and Provenzano seven. James also had a tackle for loss. It was nice to see both of these players stepping up against the Lobos. The Broncos also had three sacks on the night. Sam McCaskill, Darren Lee, and Jabril Frazier all got to the quarterback during the game. Other players that stepped up on defense were Kameron Miles with five tackles, and Tanner Vallejo, Durrant Miles, and freshman Reid Harrison-Ducros with four tackles each.
So the only word close to “Avalos” that I can come up with that best describes the 2016 Boise State defense is “Avalanche.” The “Avalos Avalanche” did their thing Friday night containing a triple-option offense for most of the game, and defensive coordinator Andy Avalos deserves a lot of credit. The Lobos were able to get some yardage and points fourth quarter against backups, but when the starters were in it was clear who was in charge on that field. The “Avalanche” frustrated the New Mexico offense for most of the night, and it started with the defensive line. Although there was a momentary lapse in the first quarter when the line let running back Tyrone Owens through a gap for a 62-yard touchdown run, for the rest of the game the starters sealed up the Lobos. The linebackers showed off their speed and open-field tackling, and they contained the outside in dominant fashion. The secondary did a good job as well, and the Lobos offense collapsed under the weight of a suffocating avalanche on Friday night.
Boise State is in a good place right now for the NY6.
After Houston's loss to Navy over the weekend, the Broncos are in a good position going forward for the opportunity to play in a NY6 bowl game. However, when the AP and Coaches Poll's are released Monday, don't expect the Broncos to leap the Cougars just yet. Boise State will have to keep winning, and Houston will have to lose to Louisville on November 17th. One poll that was released on Sunday was the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll. In that poll the Broncos jumped to No.14 after being two off the list at No.18 last week. Houston sits just two spots ahead of the Broncos at No.12 currently.
It's no gimme for the Broncos to win out as they face a decent Colorado State team that beat Utah State over the weekend, an inspired BYU team that defeated Michigan State, a resurgent Wyoming team that took down Air Force, much improved UNLV and Hawaii squads, Air Force, and if both teams make it, San Diego State in the MWC championship. Going undefeated is much harder than some might realize. However, if the Broncos win out, and Houston does lose to Louisville, or any other team on the Cougars schedule, it will be the Broncos listed on the New Year's bowl schedule.