Better now than next fall. The Boise State stars learned a valuable lesson in the annual Blue and Orange Game Friday in Bronco Stadium. What they at least should have learned is that, while they are extremely talented, Boise State's players are interchangeable and it is the Boise State system that allows them to blossom into greatness. In other words, if they weren't in the lineup, someone else would take their place and do just as well.
The Bronco stars, playing mostly as the Blue in the annual windup to spring practice, lost to the White team 14-10. Prior to the game, the Blue players boasted that they were the superior team with cornerback Brandyn Thompson even saying in the run-up to the game: "It was over before it began." Oops!
The Blue team got on the board first but not until 1:35 left in the first quarter when Kyle Brotzman booted a 32-yard field goal. Kellen Moore fired a 13-yard pass to Titus Young to put the Blue up 10-0 and the overconfidence seemed justified at the time.
But the White team acted more like the "blue collar" team the Broncos have become known for. They fought their way back behind reserve quarterback Mike Coughlin, who hit wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker with a 26-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half to cut the lead to 10-7.
The White regained possession with less than four minutes to play in the game and capitalized. Coughlin pitched the ball to Matt Kaiserman, who reversed it to wide receiver Austin Pettis. The talented Bronco secondary bit badly on the play and Pettis floated the ball to a wide-open Shoemaker, who turned it into an 85-yard touchdown and the game winner.
Coughlin was 7-of-13 for the victorious White team with a total of 81 yards. Defensive lineman Jarrell Root and cornerback Jamar Taylor each grabbed interceptions from reserve quarterback Drew Hawkins while Cedric Febis led the White with seven stops.
Moore finished with 10-of-16 passing for 106 yards for the Blue while Jeremy Avery churned up 57 all-purpose yards. Safety Winston Venable was the star of the defense with six tackles.
Moore, Avery, Harper, Thompson, Kyle Wilson, George Iloka, Jeron Johnson, Young and Byron Hout have a lot to think about--four long months to ponder how their team that was so talented could lose to a team with few stars. Perhaps they could learn either from Bronco fans, who should know this answer, or from studying Boise State history itself. The Broncos have proven throughout their history that they can beat a group of stars by playing as a team and realizing that everyone contributes to their success.
Role players and walk-ons have often made the difference between winning and losing in the recent past and throughout Bronco history. It takes everyone doing their part to make the team successful. No one player is important and stars can be replaced.
Hopefully the stars of the Blue team have eaten a healthy dose of humble pie and have learned their lesson. Boise State will open its season against Oregon on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 8:15 p.m.