Ian Johnson decided to find his groove again on a perfect night. Not only had Johnson been ceremoniously promised to gain 150 yards and 3 TDs by O-lineman Jeff Cavender, but the Broncos needed Johnson to find his '06 form in a tough ESPN contest against Southern Miss. Well, Ian got his yards (191 all-purpose) and his TDs (3, exactly) and helped the Broncos defeat the Golden Eagles 38-16 on national TV and in front of a blue and orange crowd.
Taylor Tharp had his best game of the year with over 300 yards passing, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Tharp found Titus Young on a long strike, found Jeremy Childs and Vinny Peretta a few more times and dumped off nifty passes Johnson all night when he felt pressure from the USM D. The outlet pass to Johnson seems to be a new concept on the Bronco offense, but one that worked extremely well and bailed Tharp out of trouble. Johnson looked great in the open field (80 yards on 3 receptions) and Tharp was able to escape the pressure without taking a sack or trying to run.
The Bronco D looked good again on Thursday, shutting down USM's stud RB Damion Fletcher and allowing only minimal gains through the air. Marty Tadman and Jeron Johnson laid some big hits on the Eagles ball carriers all night from the safety position and Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson did a nice job containing the speedy receivers of Southern Miss. Kyle Gingg had a nice game from his linebacker position with several nice tackles for loss.
Tadman finally broke out a bit on his punt returns, giving Boise State good field position all night and Rashaun Scott got the Broncos near the 50 every time he returned a kick it seemed. The Bronco crowd was loud and rowdy all night and helped the defense confuse the Golden Eagles every series.
All in all, a very impressive win for the Broncos. The Golden Eagles were a good team that just flat got outplayed and outcoached on Thursday night. Johnson and the Broncos look to be peaking at the right time with WAC conference play right around the corner. Hal "the Towel" Mumme brings his New Mexico State Aggies and their "air raid" onto the blue for a Sunday night matchup on October 7. If the Broncos keep their foot on the gas this year, the Aggies should be an easy win. I think that Johnson will carve up the weak run defense of the Aggies all night and our improved secondary won't allow Chase Holbrook to nickel and dime us to death.
Broncos are rollin' now. Next game= BSU 42, NMSU 20
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.
While the Wyoming game wasn't exactly a dazzling display of offensive firepower—it was a solid win against a good Wyoming squad. The Cowboys', though sporting some of the ugliest jerseys in 1-A, where a decent team with good speed and a good D. I would say that the offensive miscues by the Broncos where cut down, but still present. Tharp still looks pretty good in the pocket, but seems completely oblivious to blitzing LBs coming around the end. I'm not saying that a Bronco QB should never take a sack, but most of the sacks I've seen Tharp take look like he had absolutely no idea the guy was bearing down on him...this can lead to fumbles. Credit the offense for stepping up when they needed to. I think that the 2007 O-line, though largely comprised of the same guys, hasn't really got their swagger back...they aren't opening real large holes for our backs to run through and this, in part, is why Ian is off to a relatively slow start.
Our Defense played amazing against the Cowpokes. They looked fired up, aggressive (maybe a little too aggressive at times, Scandrick) and really fast. Kyle Wilson played an amazing game, he had a pick, a couple of pass breakups and some nice open field tackles. Scandrick looked good at the other corner, but I've gotta say that he seems to get to the ball a bit too early or a bit too late, but at least he's always in the vicinity. Our linebacker play looked good, but still don't know who is really back there as we seem to have injuries and swap guys out a lot. I don't see a backer emerging with the kind of production of a Korey Hall for another year or two. Marty Tadman played a good game as well, at one point knocking away a pass that seemed destined to find a seemingly wide open Cowboy receiver.
On special teams we still seem to have a few issues to work out on kick coverage. Our guys still haven't allowed a kick-return TD, but sometimes seem like they don't wrap up and let a guy who looked like he would be down at the 25 get to the 35 or 40. On punt returns—we simply need someone else back there. I am a huge Tadman fan and love his safety play, but I think that the "sure hands" return man needs to be replaced with an explosive one. Hopefully, this next Thursday Kyle Wilson will be returning punts, broken hand and all. BTW, if you missed Michael Lose's amazing hit on special teams in the 4th quarter...you gotta check this out; it was one of those "wow" moments where it looked like Lose was the bull and the poor Cowboy return man was the slow matador.
This weekend is off, but the Southern Miss eagles are coming into town for an ESPN-televised Thursday night game. I think that our defense gives us a good shot to win this game as they are playing phenomenal ball right now. The offense is going to have to get in sync a bit more as I think that a Boise State win will be contingent on us getting some points on the board.
Remember, the Southern Miss game is another "blue and orange-out" so all odd numbered sections will wear orange and the even numbered sections will wear blue. Looked pretty cool at the Fresno State game last year. Make sure you bring the noise on Thursday too...even if you don't...I'm sure the Bronco booth guys will "pipe" something in. Just kidding on that one, really, Wyoming's coach needs to worry less about hoof sounds and more about his lame no-huddle offense.
Congrats to Rashaun Scott, who was the WAC special teams player of the week due, in part, to his 52 yard kick return against the Pokes. He's gonna take one to the house this year (without a flag, that is)
you lose some. Got back last night and thoroughly enjoyed myself in Seattle. Bronco Nation was out in force and saw blue and orange EVERYWHERE I went. I swear there were twice as many Broncos in town as there were Cougars. Anyway, we had a great time...enjoyed a beautiful day for football in a beautiful stadium The Husky fans were polite and cordial and the game was sloppy, but not embarassing. Still not sure why our offense struggled so much, but the 4 turnovers might have been a factor? When I saw the box score and read that Tharp had attempted 47 passes, I thought to myself: "that is not Bronco football". Tharp looked fairly poised throughout the game and I thought he had pretty good protection from the O-line, but Tharp just simply is not a gunslinger and lacks some of the zip on his throws to really bring a consistent deep threat. Some of the penalties were bad, most were earned by the Broncos. We shot ourselves in the foot on numerous occasions and usually in extremely inopportune times.
IJ wasn't stellar, but I thought we abandoned the run too early and too often...it seemed like we would get 5 yards on first down with IJ, then try to do a fancy screen pass that would get stuffed and lose 1-2 yards and then kept facing 3rd and longs. This, no doubt increased the number of passes, but we should've been setting up 3rd and shorts with the run. Obviously, the fact that we outgained UW in yardage and first downs showed that this is a game we COULD have won, but with the mistakes by the Broncos...we SHOULD not have won.
I thought our D stepped up and really only allowed one real "drive" (the first one) and the other points came on a short field (after the fumble)...although J-Rob AGAIN left his guy wide open...and the other TD came on a missed tackle (although really the two Bronco defenders ran into each other)
I thought that Locker looked OK, but BSU shut him down fairly well after the first series. The kid is dangerous with his feet and got a couple good gains on the ground, but BSU handled his passing pretty well.
The stadium was LOUD and was definitely a tough place for opponents to play. Broncos still have the monkey on our backs...but I believe that we keep it there with mistake-ridden games when we go on the road (something that I mistakenly thought was in our past). I tell you what though, the "new" streak starts today and I see no reason that this loss can't motivate this young team to achieve great things again...namely another WAC title...a 12-1 record and another top 25 finish.
I f'in HATE losing...but I hope our team hates it even more and gets to work to stomp the Cowboys.
PS Our Frosh punter needs to do a little extra work this week as his shanks were and will be a BIG liability.
The the 20th ranked Broncos (I'm using our higher ranking, sue me) line up this Saturday against traditional power Washington they hope to make a statement about who's the dominant team in the Northwest. Certainly in the last few years, Washington has had their share of woes, and has in many ways gone the opposite direction of the Broncos.
HOWEVER, the Husky Nation has cause for jubilation...it seems their savior has arrived in the seemingly mortal body of Jake Locker. Now, the Vatican wants to see a few more documented miracles before they bestow sainthood upon young Locker—but for the time being...the kid looks like the "real deal". Of course, I am merely having some fun at the expense of some Husky fans that believe that Locker can do everything short of walking on water—he is young, talented and looks to be a good one. I am just not sure if he can singlehandedly win this game for the Huskies.
Boise State comes into the game, virtually at full strength, but are they the same strength as last year? Linebacker Kyle Gingg returns to the field after a fall camp concussion and DE Mike T. Williams should be back from an unspecified leg injury. CB Kyle Wilson suffered a broken hand in the Weber State game but will start against UW. Hopefully Wilson's sure tackling won't be affected as the Huskies' team speed could be a concern around the edges.
Locker was 14 of 19 in his debut against Syracuse...the exact same completion percentage as Taylor Tharp in his debut against Weber. Tharp only played about one half of football though, so it is hard to read too far into this. Similarly, Locker never had to get too "fancy" against the vanilla Syracuse defense. Locker showed in the Syracuse game that he is dangerous with his feet, adding 83 yards rushing to his stats. Locker should have a tougher time rushing the ball against the historically tough BSU defense, but if UW running back Louis Rankin can contribute and get some good runs going, Locker could have some open lanes. I think an option-style attack from the Huskies could be successful against our fairly young D-line and linebackers...then again, it could not be successful as well.
The key to this game will be ball management and turnovers. I think that Boise State's secondary is primed for some interceptions and if Justin Wilcox can cook up some good blitz packages and make Locker throw some rushed throws, Tadmand and the gang will be licking their collective chops.
Ian Johnson will of course be a big factor as well as he sets out to prove to another Pac-10 team that he's for real. Nobody's really thinking that Johnson will match his 240 yard, 5 TD outing that he had against Oregon State last year, but I do think that he can cause major problems for the Husky defense. If Ian can get into their secondary, he will be nearly impossible to stop. With Boise State's excellent O-line...I can see a big day for Johnson and I suspect won't see a whole lot of the passing game unless they start to really place all their efforts on stopping the run.
The unit matchups in this game are intriguing as both teams tend to match strengths to weaknesses. UW's defensive weakness appears to be their secondary, but with a good D-line and inexperience in the Broncos deep threats...this could be neutralized. Of course, the Bronco strength on offense is the O-line and the run game...so something has gotta give here.
I will put the special teams play as a "tie" between the two schools...both have young kickers that need to step up and both appear to have legitimate return men. The Broncos, for one, need to work on their kickoff coverage as several near disasters played out last week.
Here's my bottom line: If Tharp can manage to game, not turn the ball over and not try to match Locker BSU will be fine.
If Johnson can get 25-30 touches and keep his ypc the same as it is AND not turn the ball over, BSU will be fine.
If Boise States' D-line can get some pressure on Locker and the Linebacking corps can take away Jake's "escape routes", BSU will be fine.
BSU has a history of taking a quarter or two to "figure out" strong running QBs and I hope that Wilcox has the boys ready for the dual-threat when they step on the field. Strong tackling, heads up play and aggressiveness will make the Bronco D tough to get through. Locker is not invincible and if the Broncos can force him to make mistakes (or pull his halo down over his eyes) the Dawgs will have to go with other options.
Boise State 32, Washington 20