BOISE — Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin knew how the game film from Saturday’s 20-17 overtime win against Wyoming was going to look.
“Not pretty in a lot of areas,” he said after the game.
The offense produced just 285 yards — its fewest of the season — and Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay’s 124 yards are the most the defense has surrendered to an individual runner all season.
The Broncos’ 20 points weren’t quite their fewest of the season. They do have a 14-7 win over Marshall, but against Wyoming, just three of Boise State’s 11 drives consisted of more than four plays.
“Not good enough,” Harsin said. “There’s the game within the game, and there’s standards that you have. And you know what, we need to be better than that.”
Here’s a look at Boise State’s report card after its third fourth-quarter comeback of the season. Disclaimer: It’s not one you’re going to want to hang on the fridge.
A week removed from a comeback win at San Jose State, the second half of which was highlighted by a dominant rushing attack, the Broncos never could get the running game going on Saturday. Wide receiver John Hightower was the team’s leading rusher with 38 yards, and Boise State finished with just 91.
True freshman George Holani — coming off career highs in attempts (28), rushing yards (126) and rushing touchdowns (four) against the Spartans — managed just 30 yards on the ground. He almost lost a fumble late in the first half and did lose one in the second, which led to a touchdown that put Wyoming up 17-10 late in the third quarter.
Much of Boise State’s struggles in the running game Saturday can be traced back to an offensive line that got no push and did no favors for starting quarterback Chase Cord, who took some big shots — one of which resulted in a brief visit to the medical tent.
“I think they whupped us a few times up front,” Harsin said. “And it’s not like you go get one yard, two yards, zero yards; I’m talking about we got negative. We lost a fumble because we got whupped up front.”
Cord’s passing numbers (19-of-30, 190 yards) weren’t terrible, but he was working with a game plan that lacked creativity, relied heavily on short crossing patterns and was light on shots down the field.
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After talking all week about how physical Wyoming’s rushing attack was, the Broncos got exactly what they expected and never found a way to shut it down. The Cowboys were more than happy to shove the ball in Valladay’s gut 37 times and watch him pick up 3.4 yards per carry.
The Broncos managed to sack Wyoming’s backup quarterback Tyler Vander Waal three times — two of which went to Curtis Weaver on back-to-back plays — and the secondary didn’t give up much over the top.
The defense forced three three-and-outs in the second half but struggled to get off the field early. The Cowboys went into halftime having converted five of their first nine third-down attempts. A reoccurring problem also crept up on the Broncos. They failed to create a single turnover. Boise State has intercepted five passes and recovered six fumbles this season.
The defense does deserve credit for coming up big in several clutch situations. Linebacker Riley Whimpey’s tackle for loss on fourth-and-1 with less than a minute left in regulation gave Boise State one last chance to win the game.
In overtime, Whimpey also broke up a pass in the end zone and made the tackle that forced Wyoming’s failed field-goal attempt. And Weaver’s back-to-back sacks late in the first half forced the Cowboys to settle for a field goal and go into halftime leading by just three points.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
You have to give kicker Eric Sachse all the credit in the world. In the most pressure-packed situation of his career, he delivered to keep his team’s Mountain West title hopes in good shape. He said after the game that he wanted a chance to make up for a missed field goal in Boise State’s 28-25 loss at BYU, and he got it.
“I trust the guys. They put me in a great spot right there for an easy field goal,” Sachse said. “The line did great all day. I kind of trusted the process, trusted what we’ve been doing and just went for it.”
Punter Joel Velazquez didn’t have nearly as good of a day, and that’s been a trend. He dropped a snap that hit him in the hands and barely got the punt off, and he had to go down low to scoop another snap off the turf.
Velazquez helped his average with a 58-yard punt in the second half, but on the snap he dropped, his punt cleared just 19 yards and set Wyoming up with a short field on the scoring drive that sent the Cowboys into halftime with the lead.