Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Boise State has four keys to victory in this contest.
1. Go fishing on "The Blue," but don't forget the tackle.
"Defense wins championships," or at least that's how the old saying goes. Well, Friday night as the Broncos take the first step in their goal of winning the Mountain West, the defense will be busy.
Air Force runs a pesky triple-option offense, and it drives defenses crazy. However, the key to handling such a scheme is really simple.
As legendary coach George Halas once said, "Find out what the other team wants to do. Then take it away from them."
That is exactly what the Boise State defense must do Friday night. The biggest keys to shutting down the option are containing the quarterback, sealing the perimeter, frustrating the offense with tackles for loss and forcing punts rather than long, sustained drives.
It sounds elementary, but fundamentals are elementary.
In the first two games of the season, Boise State has struggled in the area of tackling. The Broncos will need to step it up against the Falcons. Arm tackles won't be the answer. It will take a concerted effort from the defense to make sure this happens.
2. The return of Captain Swick's 'Stache.
Quarterback Joe Southwick finished off the 2012 season with four straight, solid games and a mustache.
In the opener he was not sporting the 'stache. Instead it was the unshaven look the senior went with. Of course, the Broncos were thumped in that game 38-6 by Washington.
Last week however, Southwick, or "Swick" as he is sometimes referred to, was back to the lip cover alone.
Now, no one is suggesting the mustache has super powers or some kind of blinding misdirection allure that makes defenses miss the sleight of hand. But the senior quarterback does seem to play with a certain amount of attitude when carrying the fuzzy mouth shield.
Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman even mentioned this in one of his articles. He also had a quote from Southwick about the whole thing.
"It’s back, and I think the mojo was working," the senior leader said. "I threw a couple touchdown passes, we scored a lot of points, so it’s sticking around."
Call it mojo or just the power of the 'stache, but whatever it is, it seems to be back with the Boise State quarterback.
He will need to lead the offense in Week 3 in a way that gives the Broncos' defense the best chance for success. That means long, sustained drives by Southwick and the rest of the offense, and those drives must end with touchdowns—not field goals or missed opportunities.
Again, it sounds elementary, but that's because it is.
3. Gobble up the ground, and take the time to chew every bite.
Of course, the offense won't be squarely on the shoulders of Southwick. The running game will be key.
If the Broncos can chew up yardage and the clock with the running game, they will keep the Air Force triple-option offense on the sidelines. It can't wear down the defense if its opportunities are limited.
Those limitations will only come if the ground game of the Broncos is working.
4. Waste not, want not.
It has already been mentioned in various ways, but the last key to this game for Boise State is making the most of every opportunity.
Every drive for the Broncos offense has to be productive. This will allow the defense to rest and limit the Falcons offense.
Not only that, but when the defense is on the field they must seize every moment. That means sacks, tackles-for-loss, disrupting the Air Force game plan and wrapping up.
If the offense fails to succeed the pressure will become immense on the defense. If the defense isn't playing fundamentally sound, then it could be a very long night for Chris Petersen and his team.