Boise State Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. Miami (Ohio)
There is good news and bad news for Boise State football.
The good news is that Boise State had a two-week bye following the 17-13 loss on Aug. 31 to Michigan State. That means more time to address the things that went wrong in the opening game.
About the only bad news is that the Broncos have two weeks between games, and that may mean BSU drops out of the USA Today Poll following the weekend power shift.
It also means that Boise State does not have the chance to get right back out on the field and try to re-establish itself after a disappointing offensive effort against the Spartans.
Back to the bright side—the next game is at home.
When they meet up with the Broncos, the Miami RedHawks will be playing in their third straight game. The RedHawks lost to Ohio State, 56-10, in their opener and take on Southern Illinois this weekend. The SIU Salukis lost their opener to Eastern Illinois, 49-28.
Granted, Boise State’s coaches likely have a laundry list of what needs to be addressed, but some of those areas could include…
Establish a Running Game
This is the chance for the BSU running game to have meaning and to gain confidence. The RedHawks don’t have the size across their defensive front that MSU has, nor the experience.
The upside is that Boise State should be able to run the ball. The downside is that running against the RedHawks may not be indicative of what BSU will face in its third (BYU) or fifth game (Southern Miss) of the season.
Getting the Passing Attack to Fire Accurately
Whoever the BSU quarterback is (and there is no reason to believe it won’t be Joe Southwick at this time), he should have time to pass the ball. The RedHawks had three sacks of Ohio State in its opener, so it has a decent pass-rush, but Ohio State still hung 244 passing yards on the Miami defense with no interceptions.
Boise State will need to work the passing attack, hitting receivers coming out of the breaks, creating space for yards after the catch and, generally, turn in a better performance than Week 1’s 15-32 passing for 169 yards.
This game could be a confidence booster for the Broncos offense overall.
Tighten Coverage in the Defensive Secondary
MSU had a big running attack, but Le’Veon Bell couldn’t run the ball on every offensive play. While BSU was able to shut down the relatively young corps of receivers, one receiver that managed to make some big plays at opportune times was tight end Dion Sims.
There were a couple of occasions when Sims appeared to have a three to five-yard cushion in which to catch the ball. The Broncos need to take that away.
Whether that means dropping the linebackers to take away the short underneath routes or having the secondary on receivers like glue from the line of scrimmage, the coverage needs to tighten up a bit—particularly on big-down plays.
In its opener, Miami had problems rushing the ball. The RedHawks ended up with minus-one yard on 20 attempts, but they passed the ball for 313 yards with an average yards per catch of 9.8.
This should present a solid opportunity for BSU to work on taking away the short pass and giving the defensive rush a chance to get to the quarterback. Sacks equal a quarterback starting to rush, and that equals the chance to…
Create More Turnovers
When the Broncos were not opportunistic against Michigan State, they were lucky. The ball bounced into Bronco hands on interceptions on a couple of occasions, and Boise State’s secondary was skilled enough to grab the loose pigskin and do something with it. Had it not been for turnovers, the game against the Spartans may have been even more lopsided than it was.
Four takeaways in Week 1, with three interceptions (including the pick six), should merely have whetted the Broncos’ appetite for more. One good way to scare other teams is to develop that reputation for being ball hawks and creating turnovers. What Boise State’s defense established in Week 1 needs to continue.
Keep the Defense off the Field
Boise State’s time of possession against MSU went (from first quarter to fourth) 5:28, 6:19, 5:13 and 3:36. Boise State had the lead into the fourth quarter when the offense could not keep the ball for any length of time (on two drives), and MSU was able to take over the game. While quick-strike football is fun to watch for fans, the offense needs to establish that it can control the clock while moving the ball down the field.
Possession football helps grind down the other team’s defense and allows the Bronco defense a chance to recover.