The Boise State Broncos head to California to play Fresno State on Friday night with Derek Carr poised as a key for the Bulldogs to pull out a win.
Carr has been the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs for the past three seasons and has been an incredibly productive player. He's off to another hot start this season, completing 71.2 percent of his passes for 661 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception in two games.
Carr makes up a huge percentage of the Bulldogs' offensive production, so it's going to be important for him to keep that up against the Broncos.
The passing game is at an advantage against the Broncos, who have a young secondary that's still getting accustomed to starting at a higher level of play. The starting secondary has two redshirt juniors in Bryan Douglas and Jeremy Loane to go along with a redshirt sophomore in Darian Thompson and Donte Deayon, a true sophomore.
Facing a familiar passing game against the Washington Huskies to start the season, the Boise State secondary looked exposed. Washington's Keith Price went 23-for-31 passing with 324 yards, two touchdowns with only one interception, which came on the second play from scrimmage.
The Broncos will need to find a way to stop Carr, and there's a strategy that just might work.
Like most younger quarterbacks, Carr struggles when the pressure is on him. He often hesitates to make pre-snap reads on blitzers or coverage, so if the Broncos disguise their blitzes well enough, Carr could make some bad throws off of his back foot. He also tends to stare down his intended receiver, so the Broncos will need to emphasize that their secondary focuses on Carr's eyes throughout the game.
Along with Carr's impressive arm and ability to make some tough throws, the senior quarterback will also need to use some of his athleticism to make plays in what is bound to be a shootout.
This doesn't mean that Carr needs to run the ball. He has ran just five times this season for 55 yards, but he can still use his surprising athleticism behind the line of scrimmage. When the Broncos blitz, which they likely will, Carr will need to use his athleticism to avoid pressure, escape the pocket and extend the play to help his receivers get open and make big plays.
Current free-agent NFL quarterback David Carr's younger brother is garnering a lot of attention from the NFL in his senior season. According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, he has the Bulldogs' passer ranked as his No. 10 QB and No. 87 overall player. To make things even more interesting, Miller has Carr ranked ahead of A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray and Johnny Manziel.
With two exciting offenses going up against questionable defenses, Saturday's game is most likely going to be a shootout. Luckily for Fresno State, it has the master of the shootout in Carr, who threw 73 times for 456 yards and five touchdowns against Rutgers to begin the season with a 52-51 win in overtime.
The NFL will be calling, but Carr will focus on the here and now, as he prepares to finally break the family curse against Boise State.
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