These are the Broncos of old.
Led by a defense that is rapidly improving each week, Boise State dominated in every phase of the game to defeat San Jose State 38-21 last night in Bronco Stadium. Middle linebacker Korey Hall was sensational, blistering two different Spartan quarterbacks with bruising hit after hit. Hall was credited with 7 tackles and 1 sack, but he was constantly in the Spartan backfield disrupting and confusing the offense and punishing San Jose quarterbacks as they threw.
The rest of the defense joined in, causing three San Jose fumbles to go along with sacks from Chris Barrios, Marty Tadman, Colt Brooks and Ellis Powers. Tadman and Barrios led the Broncos in tackles with 8 each. After San Jose State scored on a 90-yard touchdown pass in the opening quarter, the Bronco defense held the Spartans to just 174 yards the remainder of the game and only 54 yards rushing on 31 carries (a measly 1.7 yards per carry average).
Boise State's defensive line performance was simply the best in recent memory, led by Alex Guerrero and Nick Schlekeway along with Mike G. Williams. Like Hall, those three were pestering the San Jose State backfield all night, keeping the running game at bay and continually batting down passes. The secondary got into the act as well and, aside from the big play early, putting in a solid performance with numerous pass breakups. Boise State's "D" ended the game with an incredible 10 pass breakups.
Quarterback Jared Zabransky continued his resurgence, hitting 20 of 27 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 40 yards and two more scores. Eight different Bronco receivers had at least one catch, led by Jarard Rabb's 3 receptions for 73 yards. Legedu Naanee, Cole Clasen and Derek Schouman also had 3 catches each, while Jason Murray (2-47), Drisan James (2-26), Ryan Putnam (2-17) and Jeff Carpenter (2-12) each chipped in with 2 grabs.
Pass protection was markedly better for this game, giving Zabransky plenty of time to throw and step up in the pocket. Run blocking was not consistent but effective at times, with Boise State picking up 229 yards on the ground. Lee Marks was outstanding, gaining 94 yards on just 94 carries, while freshman Ian Johnson had 46 yards and scored his first career touchdown on a 13-yard run in the first quarter. Antwaun Carter (8 carries for 29 yards) also did well in short-yardage situations.
Punter Kyle Stringer was once again solid, averaging 41 yards on 4 punts.
Boise State improved its record to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the WAC (tied with Fresno State for 2nd place) while San Jose State slipped to 1-5 and 0-3.
Next week, Boise State goes for its 100th road win as a four-year school against Utah State in Logan.