BOISE • In the Boise State football team’s last two home games, Mountain West opponents were able to challenge the Broncos in ways other teams could not, culminating in TCU’s 36-35 win on Saturday.
The Horned Frogs and Air Force both displayed one trait that separated them from Boise State’s previous opponents — discipline.
Broncos’ quarterback Kellen Moore noticed it in TCU early in the week as he prepared for the Horned Frogs.
“There’s no silly mistakes, no blown coverages,” Moore said last Monday. “Everything’s very assigned, everyone knows what they’re doing, they execute it very well, they obviously have great players and they’re well-coached.”
Take one look at an Air Force cadet’s daily routine and it is evident discipline is part of the Falcons’ football program. Air Force may not have the skill that TCU does, but still competed in a 37-26 loss in Bronco Stadium. Combine the Horned Frogs’ ability with coach Gary Patterson’s instruction, add clutch play-making, and it’s the right concoction to end a 35-game home winning streak.
“We were well-aware of the opponent we were playing and they did well,” Moore said after the game.
Even against that cocktail of skill and discipline, the Broncos still could have pulled out the victory, which speaks to their level of high-class football. The difference in the TCU game was the Horned Frogs’ neutralizing the Boise State defensive line, a unit with at least three players that may be NFL prospects. Quarterback Casey Pachall was only sacked once, when he tripped on one of his lineman, untouched by a Bronco.
“They were just playing football and we weren’t getting to the quarterback when we needed to,” Broncos’ defensive end Tyrone Crawford said. Crawford’s fumble recovery touchdown, forced by linebacker J.C. Percy behind the line of scrimmage, is evidence of the importance of controlling the line of scrimmage.
That hiccup aside, TCU’s offensive line provided Pachall time to throw for 473 yards and five touchdowns. Some of their huge scoring plays were on receiver routes with double moves — those are not successful without time to throw, allowing a capable quarterback to take advantage of a notoriously aggressive secondary.
“That’s not totally on the secondary, everybody’s involved there. We have to get some pressure, make sure he doesn’t hold it too long,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said.
TCU’s players and gameplan did what Georgia (Aaron Murray), Toledo (Eric Page), Tulsa (G.J. Kinne), Nevada (Rishard Marshall), and Fresno State (Derek Carr) — teams with success throwing deep before playing Boise State — could not. Patterson’s use of Pachall, Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter was unlike anything the Broncos saw this season.
“The problem is (TCU has) some pretty shifty, fast guys as well and it’s hard to just lock on to one of them,” Petersen said about containing Boyce.
Defensively, the Horned Frogs’ discipline was just enough to limit Boise State’s big plays. The Broncos impeccably capitalized on other weaker defense’s mistakes, but as Moore mentioned Monday, TCU rarely strays out of position. On the final drive, Moore completed two-of-seven passes for 15 yards and was bailed out by a questionable pass-interference call on a fourth down, setting up the missed field goal.
TCU’s confidence in its style of football made them believe they could take down Boise State.
“Personally, going into this game we didn’t see ourselves as underdogs,” TCU linebacker Tank Carder said. “Boise is a great, great team. We knew what we needed to get done and we did.”