No need to pipe in crowd noise—Boise is going to be rockin' on Thursday night as the Golden Eagles take the field against our Broncos. Southern Miss looks like a well-rounded team with a lot of athleticism and speed and at 2-1, have the same record as the Broncos. Led by a mobile QB in Jeremy Young, the USM offense also has an exceptional runningback in Damion Fletcher who rushed for over 1300 yards last year as a freshman. USM's top receivers are WR Chris Johnson and tight-end Shawn Nelso who have accounted for 346 yards of offense and 3 TDs. Southern Miss is averaging 401 yards per game so far this season as well as putting up an average of 27 points. On the flipside, Boise state is only allowing 249 yards per game and 15 points and is currently ranked 11th nationally, so this could make for an interesting night. Southern Miss' defense has so far yielded 24 pts. per game and given up 342 yards.
The USM defense won't be quite as good against the run as Wyoming or Washington was...so hopefully our run game can finally take off (the Weber St. game does NOT count). Ian Johnson has had a bit of a slow start this year, with only BLANK yards and 3 TDs. The biggest dropoff in Ian's production to this point is his YPC average which has fallen dramatically this year to only 4.7 yards per carry. Ian seems primed to have a big night under the bright lights of ESPN and Jeff Cavender has all but assured the public that Ian will get 150 yards and 3 TDs against the Golden Eagles. Of course, we all know that Ian has it in him, but he needs to find his rhythm like he did last year to really take off again.
If all went well this week, Vinny Peretta should be back in action for the Broncos as should David Shields. Redshirt freshman Jeron Johnson will get his second straight start at strong safety on Thursday and has looked good so far this year.
As usual, if the Broncos run defense can show up like they usually do and shut down the Golden Eagle run game...the Golden Eagles will have to put the ball in the air—with Kyle Wilson, Orlando Scandrick, Marty Tadman and Jeron Johnson roaming the blue...this will not go well. The Bronco defense has been stellar so far this year, especially in our defensive secondary. USM will have to utilize their mobile QB to start opening up running or passing lanes.
I see this game as being as close to a mirror match as we'll see this year, with the defenses making the big difference. Boise State's defense will dominate this game, but the offense needs to start clicking as they've struggled early in the last two outings. If the Defense can play like they have been and the offense starts playing like they can (open up the playbook, coach)...this should be a Bronco win. Add the Bronco crowd noise and home field advantage into the equation and I see this as a 10-14 point Bronco win. Hopefully Kyle Wilson can step in to field some punts this Thursday, broken hand and all... and Rashaun Scott can continue his great play on special teams to give the Broncos some nice field position this week as well.
Remember...don't look like an idiot...it is a blue and orange out this week so if you're sitting in the odd-numbered sections, wear orange and the even-numbered sections wear blue. Rumor has it that they'll be selling cheap Bronco gear in front of the stadium pregame so if you forgot to don your gear...pick some up.
If you want a good laugh pre-game...check out these hilarious threads on Broncocountry and the Eagles' board.
BIG congrats to Bronco legend Bart Hendricks for his induction into the Bronco Hall of Fame on Wednesday. If you never saw this dude play on the blue...you missed out. Also, thanks to Bart for adding me to his link list. You can read Bart's excellent blog by clicking his link in MY linklist to your immediate right.