Boise State Football: Grading the Broncos' Win over UNLV
As the BCS continues to defy common sense by placing a one-loss Alabama ahead of both the Broncos and Stanford, Boise State continues to mow down opponent after opponent.
Though this game was ugly at the beginning and the very end for Boise State they still came away with the 48-21 win in Las Vegas.
Even though at half time Boise State was only up by seven, the Broncos came out in the second half and had four unanswered touchdowns effectively sealing yet another victory for the team with the second longest winning streak in the country.
Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl about a potential invite from the Big East as fellow western schools such as BYU and San Diego State mull over their current conference situation or the lack of one all together.
Despite the distractions of the Big East and having to listen to massive LSU/Alabama hype machine called ESPN, Boise State came away with the win and continues down their undefeated path as one of only five unbeaten teams in the country.
Let's take a look at how the Broncos did this past Saturday.
Boise State needs to retire the No. 11 jersey once Kellen Moore leaves because, along with his illustrious career with the Broncos, Moore just grabbed the record for the most career wins for a starting quarterback.
The record, previously held by Colt McCoy, now stands at 46 with a good chance that Kellen Moore wins 50 games since there are five games left on the Bronco's schedule. That would be an average of 12.5 wins a season which is incredible for any player.
For this game though, Kellen Moore seemed to start out a little slow with a few uncharacteristically bad passes and even some bad reads.
Statistically, Moore didn't have a terrible game, but he was well shy of his season average of 74.1 percent completing only 18 passes on 31 attempts. Moore did manage to tie his game on the all-time touchdown passes list.
Joe Southwick came in late in the game and showed some promise with some crisp on target throws as he finished the night three-for-three.
As for Moore, I will just chalk up his early performance issues to shaking the cobwebs out after a bye week. He should be ready for TCU on Saturday.
Unfortunately, Doug Martin left early in the game with an injury to his leg but did remain in uniform. It's likely that Martin was kept out as a precaution since Boise State could easily handle UNLV without their leading rusher.
However, D.J. Harper stepped up and carried the load nicely after UNLV shut down Doug Martin on a few of his runs. Until he left, Martin only had six carries for nine yards which is extremely underwhelming for such a good rusher.
Yet, Harper picked up where he left off a few years ago carrying the ball 13 times for 109 yards. Harper actually looked more like the power runner we see in Martin than the finesse and speed approach that Bronco fans have become accustomed to from Harper.
It seemed to work though as the running game picked up nicely with the ball in D.J. Harper's hands, and it's good to know the Broncos still have an excellent running game in case Martin's injury is more serious than originally thought.
Much like Kellen Moore's initial performance, it seemed the receiving corps was a bit buggy as well. Tyler Shoemaker dropped a few passes that would have distanced the Broncos a little earlier in the game. However, once Boise State got settled down a bit Matt Miller and Tyler Shoemaker began to light up the board for the Broncos.
Shoemaker was found streaking past UNLV defenders bringing down a 51-yard touchdown catch and then capped his evening with an incredible catch that was deflected in the end zone by a UNLV player.
Matt Miller also had a great day as he was very solid while the other receivers were on shaky ground during the beginning of the game. He brought in a pair of touchdowns as well, both of which were thrown into very heavy coverage.
Gabe Linehan also had a touchdown early in the game as the Broncos brought in 21 receptions for 231 yards.
This was the worst performance I have seen by the Boise State offensive line this year. Moore had way too much pressure on him from a much smaller and less experienced UNLV defense.
Holes were not opening up for Martin at all, and it was really surprising to see one of the best O-lines in the country get manhandled for the first half of the game by one of the youngest and worst defenses in the country.
The line did find its footing in the second half once again showing that the Broncos cannot be successful without their line.
Just like their offensive-line counter parts, the defensive line came out very soft in this game. At halftime, Coach Petersen expressed that UNLV was doing a better job at controlling the line of scrimmage, something that Boise State generally does very well.
A halftime pep-talk seemed to perk the defense up as the Broncos stopped the Rebels multiple times before letting up on the final UNLV drive.
However, it was the last touchdown UNLV scored just brought back the frustration of how poorly the Broncos did in the first half. It seemed like the defense was playing down to its opponent. Doing just enough to keep them at bay.
They will definitely need more than that to defeat TCU.
Not much was heard about the linebackers during this game which is actually the norm for this crew. It doesn't necessarily mean they did a poor job, but they obviously did not have as much of an impact as they did against Air Force.
Due to the amount of rushing yards the Rebels put up, it seems like the linebackers did not stop the run as much as they should have, and I did notice that over-pursuit was a problem early on in the game, though that was fixed later in the game.
I will say the linebackers did do an excellent job in, once again, stopping the screen during this hard to contain pistol offense.
As long as they continue to be the quiet workhorses they have been in the past, Boise State will be successful on defense.
UNLV's passing game was pretty much kept at bay the whole game as the Broncos only allowed 14 catches for 134 yards. It was a fairly typical day for Boise State in that regard with George Iloka's name being mentioned a few times as usual.
There were a few blown coverages early on that did allow UNLV to score, but those cobwebs were shaken out by the half.
The Rebels do have some solid receivers, and more than a few times, I caught myself saying nice catch when a Rebel receiver came down with an impressive catch in heavy coverage. It was not really Boise State's fault since they were on top of their coverages in as much as UNLV made some very athletic catches.
This was the best performance by the Boise State Special teams. Save for one blocked extra point, the special teams was very good. Starting off the game with a blocked UNLV punt and finishing their night with a fake punt where J.C. Percy ran it for a first down.
The one blocked kick was not because the kick was low, it was actually a heads up play by the Rebels as the stacked the left side of the box and squeezed a man in to get the block.
The punt and kick teams continued their streak as one of the best in country at pinning the opposing team deep in their own territory and not allowing them to get many return yards.
The special teams we saw today began to remind of the Bronco special teams of old.
I realize Coach Petersen needed to give his team the necessary time off to let his guys recover after a brutal Air Force game, but it seemed like the Broncos were stuck in first gear when they started the game. He did, once again, make the necessary adjustments at halftime getting them back into midseason form, but I feel that Boise State should have entered the game like that.
I did like the call Petersen made in keeping Martin out of the game after he injured his leg. The Broncos had more than enough fire power to beat UNLV without him, and there was no need to see him get injured more just before the Broncos' biggest in-conference game next Saturday against TCU.
The one intangible the Broncos really needed to improve upon was intensity. Boise State came into this game very flat and did not seem to have a sense of purpose on both sides of the ball.
It wasn't that they were looking ahead to TCU or that they were tired, it just seemed like indifference. They looked like a team that could have been surprised if they weren't careful. Three of the remaining four opponent on their schedule have the capacity to beat Boise State if the Broncos show up lackadaisical.
Boise State can control only one thing, and that is their own performance, so there should be no reason to give the BCS any reason to doubt how good Boise State is. The level of intensity we saw against Georgia needs to come back this week so Boise State can finish the season strong.