It is no secret in the college football world that Boise State is struggling on offense.
In three games this season, the Broncos have been held without a single offensive touchdown in two of those contests.
The only variation from that pattern exists in the home game versus Miami (Ohio). Against Michigan State, the Broncos were held to only field goals and a defensive touchdown, and against BYU they could only muster a defensive score.
So what is the difference?
Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. The difference is the quality of the opposing defense.
With all do respect to the RedHawks, they are 94th in the nation in points against, and they have allowed 56, 30, 27 and the Broncos' 39 against them this season.
Michigan State, on the other hand, has allowed just seven, 20, seven and the Broncos' 13 points against them this season. They are the 11th-ranked defense when it comes to scoring against, not to mention they are big, physical and brutal up front.
BYU is also very physical, and they are ranked 13th in scoring against the defense at 12.5 points per contest.
These defenses are by far the best Boise State faces all year, and that could bode well for their new quarterback and the offensive success of the Broncos.
The next two weeks of the season will be absolutely crucial to Boise State in correcting what ails them on the offensive side of ball. If they can do it, the rest of the year could go very well.
If they don't, there are teams on the schedule that could give them trouble.
Let's look at five reasons the Broncos should be able to step it up on offense over the next two weeks of the season.
What makes Chris Petersen such an impressive and amazing coach?
Answer: The twinkle in his eye.
Chris Petersen loves to coach, and you can almost see a bright twinkle coming from his eye when he is talking about "fixing it" or "getting it right." It seems like the coach of the Boise State Broncos actually loves to coach.
Without offending others or naming names, coach Petersen is a guy who actually seems to love the challenge of coaching his players. You can almost see a renewed energy in the coach after the mystery that was the BYU game.
Look for coach Pete to do one of his best coaching jobs ever this season. He is already halfway there.
People quickly forget how much the Broncos lost on defense, and yet the Boise State D is ranked 10th in points against this season. Opponents are averaging 11.7 points per contest.
The defense held Miami (Ohio) to just 227 total yards and BYU to just 200. Not bad for a defense that lost its entire front four, linebackers and key backups.
Now, watch what he does on offense. Bronco fans can be encouraged that Petersen is challenged. It is when he is at his best. Especially when there is a twinkle in his eye.
Ahh, just what the doctor ordered for an ailing offense—the Lobos.
Ranked 96th in scoring against the defense, the New Mexico Lobos are allowing 32.3 points per contest.
They have won two games on the season, however, a 66-21 thumping of Southern University of the FCS and a victory over little brother New Mexico State, 27-14.
The Broncos match up extremely well against the Lobos, and it should provide the perfect recipe for success.
With a couple extra days of preparation, some serious reflection and the renewed energy that seems to be coming from the Broncos head coach, the New Mexico game should go a long way to instill confidence in Joe Southwick and the rest of the Boise State offense.
Look for things to start clicking down in New Mexico. It is also a game that is not nationally televised, so it allows the Broncos to quietly improve without the extreme analysis and criticism a Thursday night game on ESPN against a quality opponent invites.
Southern Miss is another team struggling this season. After three games, the Golden Eagles are ranked 116th in points against the defense.
They have lost to Nebraska, East Carolina and Western Kentucky. In every contest they have failed to score more than 20 points, but their opponents are averaging 38.3 per contest.
The Golden Eagles face a very good Louisville team next week before they face the Broncos, while Boise State will be trying to get things tuned up in New Mexico.
Look for another opportunity to get things right for the Bronco offense in Hattiesburg.
With the next two contests being against defenses that are less than stellar, it affords the Broncos the option of getting others involved in the running game.
Against BYU, almost no other running back touched the ball and only limited wide receivers and tight ends saw action.
Against New Mexico and Southern Miss, the Broncos can get more players involved.
Running back Drew Wright should get additional carries, as should Jack Fields. However, the one that seems to be most intriguing is Jay Ajayi. He only got one carry against BYU, but he is a strong, physical back who looks to be a real valuable power option.
Also, Geraldo Boldewijn should be back for the Southern Miss game, and it should give the Broncos another deep threat.
Speaking of deep threats, Aaron Burks, Mitch Burroughs and, eventually, Boldewijn should all be getting more action down the field. Against New Mexico and Southern Miss, that should be a real option.
It should allow Southwick to develop some game touch on the ball, and provide quick-strike confidence for an offense that sorely lacks it at this point.
Joe Southwick is facing his fourth game as the Boise State starting quarterback. Robert Prince is also facing his fourth game as the Broncos' offensive coordinator.
Of course there were going to be bumps in the road. Of course replacing Kellen Moore is impossible. However, now is the crucial time in the season where these two men should be coming into their own.
Robert Prince is no doubt working diligently with Coach Petersen to get things right. Southwick is certainly doing the same.
There were several things that happened in the BYU game that should be valuable lessons for the entire offense and the coaching staff. You can bet Petersen is looking at every second of tape and considering each and every factor.
Over the next two weeks, you will see an offensive coordinator and a brand new quarterback coming of age. The opponents they face give them just what they need to prosper.
If they do not succeed over the next two contests, then the problems are deeper than anyone could've imagined. However, from the outside looking in, it looks like they are poised for success and growth.
After Southern Miss, the Broncos face a tough Fresno State team at home. If they don't have things at least mostly fixed, that game could be far more challenging than some might think.
If the offense is playing great and the defense is still doing their thing, the Bulldogs will have another miserable trip to "The Blue."