Associating Boise State football with mediocre offense just doesn't seem right, but that's the case this season.
Without their normal array of weapons on offense, the Broncos have to win in different ways. It doesn't make them a bad team; it just makes them different than usual.
Through nine games, the Broncos are averaging 27.4 points per game, putting them at No. 67 in the country. They're 87th in passing yards per game and 64th in rushing yards per game.
In other words, replacing guys like Kellen Moore and Doug Martin isn't easy. It wouldn't be for anyone.
Moore broke records for a reason. He was the quintessential winner and ran Chris Petersen's offense in his sleep. Joe Southwick wasn't expected to be that guy. It would be unfair to expect that from an inexperienced first-year starter, even if he has had two years as a backup to learn the offense.
Southwick has 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He hasn't thrown more than one pick in a single game, but he fails to make big plays. Having Matt Miller and Kirby Moore as his leading receivers doesn't help matters, but that doesn't change the facts. Without big plays through the air, the Broncos lose all elements of surprise.
No matter how good D.J. Harper can be, and he's been quite good this season, playing one dimension on offense rarely works. Harper has 12 touchdowns and nearly 800 yards on the season, and Jay Ajayi has given the offense a home-run threat. But he can't do it alone.
Winning games for Boise State isn't impossible, as their 7-2 record shows, but it leaves little margin for error. Allowing a kickoff return to go for a touchdown and having a punt blocked, like the Broncos did on Saturday, doesn't help matters either, but past Broncos offenses could have overcome those issues.
Saturday's loss was disappointing, but it was bound to happen sometime. Relying on an overachieving defense and run game is only going to last so long and a solid San Diego State team proved that.
The Broncos haven't lost two games in one season since 2007. That's a remarkable feat, but it stings for Petersen's team nonetheless.