Boise State got their revenge over Nevada on Saturday afternoon in their 30-10 win at The Blue, though if you were to ask Coach Petersen about it he would have claimed casually that it was just another game. Well, now that the Broncos are once again victorious over Nevada, perhaps we can stop being inundated with footage of Brotzman missing those two field goals last year. I doubt it.
Anyway, this victory was not without some concerns as, quite frankly, the Bronco offense looked incredibly sloppy. Uncharacteristic mistakes were made by Kellen Moore and a late Nevada scoring drive made the score look closer than it really was.
Unfortunately, the Broncos paid for that in the polls, dropping from four to five in the AP and from five to six in the Coaches' Poll. Though there were some bright spots and definite improvements on defense and with the running game, it didn't make up for what was lacking in other areas. With a myriad of undefeated teams still out there, Boise State must play at its highest level to maintain its standing. Sadly, they did not in this game.
Here is the Broncos' report card for their game against Nevada.
Up until the game on Saturday I had not seen a bad outing by Kellen Moore. The Nevada game was a bad game for Kellen Moore when you compare his performance to his past body of work. He struggled with his accuracy which is uncharacteristic of Moore, as he usually hits his receivers with laser-like precision. On multiple occasions he overthrew receivers even though a few were wide open. Nevada was very lucky Moore was off his game, otherwise the score would have been much higher in Boise's favor.
Moore still surpassed 12,000 yards in his career, putting him in second place among active quarterbacks. He also moved up to eighth all-time in touchdown passes with 113 and is only four wins away from passing Colt McCoy for the most wins as a quarterback.
Compared to his previous games, Moore's stats are relatively timid, completing 19 passes on 33 attempts for only 142 yards and two touchdowns. Nevada was very focused on rushing Moore, forcing multiple hurry-ups and leading to a poor decision by Moore to lob a pass in the air as he was going down for a sack. The pass was easily picked off and led to one of his two interceptions on the day.
Joe Southwick came in late in the game and was 2-for-2 in passing. He was fortunate that an interception he threw was negated due to a Nevada penalty.
I believe this was a fluke game for Kellen given his past performances and I believe he will be right on track for the next game. One has to wonder though how much of a factor that knee brace has even though he wore it for the Tulsa game where he was very successful.
When it was apparent Kellen Moore was struggling this game, Chris Petersen moved to offensive plan B—a heavy dose of Doug Martin. I was waiting for a breakout game for Martin and this was it. He carried the ball 21 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. It would have been even more yardage and an additional touchdown if it weren't for a holding call on a very impressive 92-yard run. That run would have set the school record for the longest touchdown run in Bronco history.
Interestingly enough, in the past two seasons Martin's best single-game performance has come against Nevada. There is just something about the Wolfpack that brings it out of him. It was good to see Martin have a good running game. Now we just need to have both Martin and Moore firing on all cylinders and this offense will be unstoppable.
D.J. Harper also carried the ball 11 times for 36 yards leading to the first time Boise State's passing yards were fewer than their rushing yards this year.
For the fourth game in a row, nine separate receivers had a reception. Matt Miller and D.J. Harper each had a touchdown catch as the committee of receivers continues to be successful for the Broncos. Though Moore was less than perfect on his passes, the Boise State receivers generally made the most of what they got, making some very impressive catches while in very heavy coverage.
The one blemish I saw were the four dropped passes, with one to Mitch Burroughs definitely going for a touchdown. To their credit, though, the corps of receivers did not let this affect them racking up 21 receptions for a total of 160 yards.
The offensive line is getting a slightly worse grade than they did last week because even though they made definite improvements in opening holes for the rush, they seemed to forget how to block for the pass. Kellen Moore took a lot of hits and even was sacked for the first time this season. There should have been a second sack but Moore threw the ball as he was going down, leading to an easy Nevada interception.
With that being said, Doug Martin owes a lot of his success to the line. For the first time this season Martin was hitting empty holes and getting some good yardage. As far as the run block was concerned, everything was excellent except for the one holding call that led to Martin's 92-yard touchdown run being called back. If this line can put together both the pass and the run block while limiting the penalties, they will live up to their reputation as one of the best lines in college football.
Chris Ault's famed pistol offense has given problems to the Broncos before, but not this time. The defensive front put up a wall that the Wolfpack just could not penetrate. At the half Nevada only had 50 yards of offense. By the end of the game, Nevada had only 182 yards with only 59 of those being on the ground. The Wolfpack are not known for their passing game but it became clear that the pistol running game was not going to work this time. Held to their lowest running average in two years, the Nevada offense only averaged 1.9 yards per carry
Nevada came into this game ranked 15th in total offense averaging 483 total yards per game having put up good yardage against BCS opponents Oregon and Texas Tech. What is even more impressive is the Bronco defensive line racked up a season-high 12 tackles for a loss. Were it not for the Bronco secondary being lazy, a 53-yard scoring pass in the final minute of the game BSU would have held Nevada to just three points and 129 yards.
Backing up the extremely strong front line was a virtually impenetrable linebacking crew. In on many of the tackles for a loss and pass breakups, the linebackers came out very strong. They were effective in snuffing out screen plays and causing all-around havoc for the Nevada passing game.
J.J. Percy had an interception deep in Nevada territory that, unfortunately, was followed by a Kellen Moore interception. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that along with the line, the linebackers had an excellent game.
Other than one play at the end of the game, the Boise State secondary was lights-out. Allowing only five completions on 16 Nevada attempts, they swooped in on Chris Ault's pistol offense, never letting the run get behind them. As a matter of fact, the longest Nevada run was for only 12 yards. Every single pass play, save for one, the Broncos had Nevada defenders completely covered and the Wolfpack QB had no shot downfield.
Their one mistake came in the last minute of the game when Nevada tossed a 53-yard touchdown pass mainly because of what amounted to Bronco secondary laziness. It was a pass over the middle that left the Nevada receiver wide open and after the catch, no effort was made at a tackle. This unfortunate play made the game look a lot closer than it really was.
Another bright spot was the play of sophomore corner back Quaylon Ewing-Burton who replaced the injured Jerrell Gavins. He had a season-high seven tackles for this game.
I am happy to say the Boise State special teams looked like the special teams of old. Not a single issue presented itself. Kickoffs were either kneeled for a touchback or stifled deep in Nevada territory.
The return team was excellent, averaging over 30 yards in both punt and kickoff returns, even with the loss of Nate Potter for this game.
Finally, a collective sigh of relief was felt throughout the Bronco Nation as the first attempt at a field goal was successful and not to mention there was not a single problem with extra point kicks.
The one blemish that is not the fault of special teams was the failed two-point conversion, which seemed unnecessary as this kicking team still needs all the practice they can get.
There were multiple times during this game that the Boise State sideline looked flat-out confused. Kellen Moore was constantly looking to the sideline for plays and telling whoever was giving them to hurry up. At one point, Moore was waving players onto the field, then waving them off, just to throw his hands up in exasperation. In the end, Moore was not given enough time to read the defense and had to hurry up due to the play clock running down.
I don't know what the issue was but it definitely was a contributing factor in the offense. These types of actions are very concerning as I have yet to see an ounce of confusion from Chris Petersen and his staff. It just seemed like, at times, the Broncos didn't have a plan on offense.
That being said, once again every area Boise State needed to improve in over last game, they did. But they seemed to lose in areas they are normally very strong in, like quarterback play.
Penalties, penalties, penalties! The discipline of this team when it comes to penalties has slowly waned and it is beginning to show. Granted this was a high-emotion game for the Broncos but silly penalties need to be prevented. I will make the concession that at least one of the penalties was a result of overzealous refs, but the fact of the matter is penalties are beginning to creep up and be a problem. Ten penalties for 98 yards is not a good stat to have no matter who the oponent is.
Going hand in hand with that is the overall lack of motivation or a sense of urgency displayed by the offense—minus Doug Martin of course. Boise State just seemed to mill around on the sidelines and display a general malaise about the current situation. This was definitely an off day for the Bronco offense. But in the end, Boise State was victorious and the score was by no means close, therefore Boise State did their job.