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Hold on to the Ball
Without a doubt, one can make the argument that the Broncos never really had a chance against BYU thanks to the four turnovers the team committed in the game.
The turnover affair was a complete team effort, with four different players (Grant Hedrick, Geraldo Boldewijn, Shane Williams-Rhodes, Jay Ajayi) responsible for losing the football against the Cougars. With 15 on the year, Boise State now ranks near the bottom of the conference in total turnovers.
Colorado State isn’t one of the top teams in the conference in turnover margin, but its defense is still fairly optimistic. The Rams rank right below conference leader Utah State for total takeaways this season, and after watching the film of last week’s game, they may be a bit more aggressive in trying to strip the ball from the Broncos.
Evident in the fact that Boise State had scored just 13 points heading into the fourth quarter of the BYU game, the Broncos cannot just give the ball away several times and expect to beat the Rams. Ball security will be important if Chris Petersen’s team is to avoid beginning a losing streak.
Don’t Get Pierced by the Horns
Figuratively, Colorado State’s horns are its two-pronged rushing attack led by running backs Kapri Bibbs and Donnell Alexander.
Four times this season the Rams have rushed for at least 200 yards in a single game, and each of those four games Colorado State has emerged victorious. The correlation is unmistakable: When the Rams gain yards on the ground, they usually win.
Boise State’s run defense has been better overall than its pass defense this season, but the Broncos were hurt equally by the pass and run last Friday night, surrendering over 200 yards on the ground and 300 yards through the air to BYU.
The Rams don’t pass much, and they certainly don’t have a dual threat at quarterback like Taysom Hill. So expect Colorado State to try to beat the Broncos at their own game. If Boise State’s defensive line isn’t up to the task of stopping Bibbs and Alexander (and sometimes a third running back, Chris Nwoke), it just might work.
Focus on the Present
Boise State has not suffered three losses in a season since 2007. In other words, no player on the current squad has previously experienced what almost anyone in Boise, Idaho, will describe as a mediocre season.
Despite the fact that Coach Petersen is one of the best at getting the most out of his players, mental toughness oftentimes is something that you cannot artificially create. This is a fairly young, inexperienced squad. Hopefully the players have the wherewithal to put last week’s ugly performance out of their minds and can focus on this week’s battle.
Not all is lost. If the Broncos can continue to win games, there is a good chance that the team will still end up in the inaugural Mountain West Conference Championship Game, where it may get the chance to play underdog to a currently undefeated Fresno State team.
The Broncos need to take everything one game at a time. With a learning quarterback, young defense and humbling loss last week, anything but that attitude puts Boise State in a position to drop another game.
And from here on out, it makes a difference with regard to conference position.