Boise State vs. Tennessee-Martin
Game Date: Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013
Kickoff: 3:00 PM EST
Where: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Radio: Bronco Radio Network, 670 AM KBOI Boise, Idaho
When looking at the Broncos 2013 schedule it appeared as if Week 2 wouldn't be a big challenge for Boise State, as it would pit them against Tennessee-Martin, an FCS school out of the Ohio Valley Conference.
However, after the way the Broncos looked in Week 1, there are doubts going into this contest.
Not only that, but San Diego State, Kansas State, Oregon State, Connecticut and Iowa State were all upset in the first week of the college football season by teams from the FCS.
Maybe it's all the extra practice teams in the FCS get from the playoffs at the end of their seasons?
Whatever the reason, Boise better be on upset alert, and they better come ready to play. San Diego State was absolutely thrashed by Eastern Illinois last week 40-19.
The Panthers ran up 533 yards of offense on the Aztecs, and dominated the game from the second quarter on. Oh, by the way, Eastern Illinois is out of the same conference Tennessee-Martin is.
Let's look closely at this contest to try to determine what Boise State must do to rebound from such a stinging loss, and how they can avoid a second straight week of disappointment.
Boise State simply needs to do three things to win this game.
Shed the shadow, resurrect the real
Against Washington the Broncos offense just didn't look like its old self. When the season ended last year, Boise State had hit its stride on offense, and that figured to play out well for the team this season.
However, after a face lift and a slimming down of the playbook, what remains is just a shadow of the old offense.
The running game looked good, and the potential passing game had flashes of hope. But, if Boise State wants to defend its house this week, it will need to bring it all together.
Throwing in a hand full of new plays, some of which include Shane Williams-Rhodes would be ideal, and stretching the field on long pass plays until they finally connect on one would be great for the Broncos.
Who knows? Maybe they could even try a trick play or two.
Pressurize the pocket and tie up loose ends
Boise State allowed quarterback Keith Price to do whatever he wanted or needed to do last week. Whenever a quarterback has that much time, bad things are going to happen for any defense.
This week the Broncos face a mobile quarterback attack, and it will be crucial to shut them down and contain the outside perimeter.
One of the reasons Boise State has been so successful in past seasons on defense is simply because they disrupt what a quarterback is trying to do. Perhaps after reviewing film, hearing the critics and feeling the pressure themselves, the defensive players will bring tremendous pressure of their own this week against the Skyhawks.
This will also allow the young cornerbacks of the Broncos to bring better coverage. If a quarterback is allowed to scramble for ten seconds and pick and choose his targets, the secondary is going to be frustrated.
Flourish in the fundamentals
Boise State has always been a good tackling team. However, in Week 1 the Broncos struggled in this area.
It had to be frustrating for the coaching staff to see the Huskies slipping arm tackles.
Not only that, but some Boise State players were not getting off of blocks.
Several times in the game the young, smaller corners were held up in blocks that should have been shed with reckless abandon. Instead, the failure to allude, allowed a Washington receiver to catch a ball on the outside and simply maneuver around the blocked player.
Also, on special teams, a missed block allowed the Huskies to block a field goal.
The Broncos will need to get back to fundamentals this week. Of course, this week in practice coach Petersen is probably reminding them of that very thing.
Tennessee-Martin is probably much more excited about this game than it first thought. Like a piranha smelling blood, the Skyhawks have to be encouraged by the fact that several FCS teams pulled off upsets over FBS schools in Week 1, and that Boise State looked very un-Boise State like.
To win this game it is still going to take a lot of things to go right, but as we saw last week, anything is possible.
Give them no leg room
In Week 1, the Broncos offense had a decent running game. In total, Boise State had 171 rushing yards on 42 carries. Jay Ajayi and Aaron Baltazar looked impressive at times, but their legs needed air support that they didn't get.
Still, against the Skyhawks the Broncos may be able to pound out some serious yardage.
If UT-Martin stands a chance in this game it will be by shutting down Ajayi and the others.
Stick Mr. Swick
If Tennessee-Martin wants to keep it close, or even win this game, they have to get to the quarterback.
Joe Soutwhick knows how to be mobile. It will be hard for the Skyhawks to shut him down, but they will need to if they want to take home the victory.
They will also need excellent pass coverage, as you have to think the veteran receivers of the Broncos will want some redemption after a poor performance in Seattle.
If UT-Martin gets to Southwick multiple times, brings good coverage and frustrates the wide receivers of Boise State, victory could be in the cards for the FCS school.
Bring calm to "The Blue"
The Skyhawks will be in for a surprise. Bronco Stadium, or "The Blue", is a much louder and more difficult place to play than most realize.
The shape of the stadium makes for a very loud experience, much louder than the 37,000 fans the stadium holds.
If UT-Martin can get early success and keep the crowd out of it, they have a chance. However, if the Broncos are rolling, the stadium will be rocking, and that doesn't mean good things for the Ohio Valley Conference school.
The Broncos have to improve this week. They will need a much better effort, not only to win the game, but to encourage themselves and their fans.
Players to watch: The entire defense
Seriously, the defense will need to do much better this week. However, that starts with more success on offense.
If the Broncos can move the ball effectively and finish drives, the defense's job gets much easier.
Still, linebacker Blake Renaud, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe must lead the way.
The front seven must get pressure on the quarterback, seal the outside, shed blocks and finish tackles.
The same goes for the defensive secondary.
Of course, quarterback Joe Southwick will be under the microscope, and he will need to rebound from another disappointing opening game performance.
Jay Ajayi and Aaron Baltazar
These two running backs gave the Boise State fans something to be hopeful about in Week 1, and don't expect that to diminish in Week 2.
In fact, expect a huge game from these two.
Tennessee-Martin is a talented team with some excellent offensive weapons. Boise State will have to keep them in check, but it won't be easy.
Running backs Trent Garland and DJ McNeil
Last week senior running back DJ McNeil rushed for 134 yards on 26 carries. He also had a touchdown. Sophomore running back Trent Garland added 116 yards on eight carries and a touchdown as well.
This dual-headed rushing attack is going to be hard to stop. If the front seven of the Broncos don't step up, Boise State could find itself looking frustrated and silly.
Quarterback Dylan Favre
Last week junior quarterback Dylan Favre came into the game after starting quarterback Jarod Neal struggled.
Favre, nephew of former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, looked good in his time at the helm. He threw for 83 yards and a touchdown, but he also scrambled for 37 yards on the day.
If Favre starts against the Broncos, it will bring a much more dynamic offense to the table. Boise State didn't do well against a mobile Keith Price, and Favre could give them fits.
Safety J'Vontez Blackmon
Senior safety J'Vontez Blackmon is an experienced player with excellent athletic ability and a knack for getting to the ball. Last week he had an interception, and was flying all over the field. He is quite an athlete, and the Broncos will have to keep an eye on him.
Wide Receiver Jeremy Butler
Senior wide receiver Jeremy Butler caught 10 passes last week for 91 yards. He was the top receiver for UT-Martin, and the Broncos will certainly need to cover him and other receivers much better than they did against Washington.
Wide Receiver Corey Jordan
Senior wide receiver Corey Jordan only caught two passes for 12 yards last week, but it was his return game that Boise State needs to keep an eye on.
In Week 1 he had two kickoff returns for a total of 85 yards. However, one of them was for 68-yards. He is fast and elusive, and Boise State special teams will need to limit what he does.
Head coach of the UT-Martin Skyhawks Jason Simpson is still not sure about starting Dylan Favre this Saturday.
According to The Leaf Chronicle, the coach was quoted as saying, "I thought they both did well ... It doesn’t really matter who starts. You find out who’s got what going and then you go with that guy."
So, Boise State fans may see Brett Favre's nephew Saturday, but not necessarily as the starter.
Boise State head coach Chris Petersen has had a lot to say, but it has mostly been answering questions about what happened in Seattle.
Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman published an article this week that quotes Petersen and his thoughts about the Washington game. The coach said:
You open up every year like we open up, you’re going to get your nose bloodied ... It’s just a matter of time. I know that. Nobody else seems to, but I know that. … Did I think the game was going to be closer and we were going to be right there battling? Absolutely. Am I shocked it went like it did? Well, I knew it could if we didn’t make some plays on offense to score some points, because we’ve got a lot of guys on the other side of the ball who hadn’t been in that arena before.
He has alluded to next week, when in the same article he was quoted as saying, "The kids, we’re proud of them. They fought hard ... We practiced (this) morning, good focus. They went back to work."
As much as Petersen wants to claim business as usual, you have to think it is anything but usual for the Broncos right now.
Even with the streak of FCS teams upsetting FBS schools in Week 1, don't expect a shocker in Boise in Week 2.
Chris Petersen has made a living by getting his teams ready to play. Sure, there is the occasional letdown, or single meltdown like last week, but it has never happened in back-to-back games, especially against a team that is far less athletic than the Broncos.
The Broncos have to be motivated right now. They are coming back to Boise after taking the biggest thumping in the Chris Petersen era. They certainly want to rebound, and they no doubt want to show their fans that they are still the Broncos of Boise State.
Expect Boise State to show up and look like Boise State.
Prediction: Boise State 42, Tennessee-Martin 12