EAST LANSING, Mich. Boise State hopes to use Friday nights 17-13 loss at No. 13 Michigan State as a building block for a season that still includes high-profile nonconference games against BYU and Southern Miss and the chance to win the programs first Mountain West title.
The Broncos failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time in 15 years despite driving inside the Michigan State 10-yard line three times in the first half and didnt score at all in the second half despite crossing midfield twice.
They get a week off before playing two home games in six days Sept. 15 against Miami (Ohio) and Sept. 20 against BYU.
If we continue to get better and grow, well make some of those plays, and I think we have a chance to be a good team. I really do, coach Chris Petersen said. Its going to be tough sledding for a while. Guys are going to have to get into a rhythm. Guys are going to have to get better. Theyll have to play with that same intensity. Theyll have to play a little bit cleaner without question across the board, and I think we will the next time we come out.
Junior quarterback Joe Southwick was one of five players making his first career start against the Spartans. Seven more were making their second or third start.
Thats 12-of-22 offensive and defensive positions filled by players with little experience in their current roles.
I think the guys will respond well to this, Southwick said. Its a little adversity. We got hit in the mouth a little bit. This will help us in the long run. Were going to be very focused for our next opponent and for future opponents.
The players say they will learn from their mistakes.
But they also will learn from their successes, Petersen said.
Theyll have learned a lot about themselves out there, he said. We had some playmakers on both sides of the ball.
This will be one of those games where well put the tape on and be kicking ourselves because we had chances. Michigan State is a very good team. They created some things, no doubt about it. I just know we had some guys who could make more plays.
DEEP BALL MISFIRES
The Broncos threw three consecutive deep balls down the right sideline on their last possession of the game. Junior Aaron Burks drew pass interference on the first, senior Chris Potter was unable to get back to an underthrown pass on the second and the third fell just out of the reach of diving senior Mitch Burroughs.
We had the matchups we wanted, Petersen said. The balls got to be thrown maybe a little tighter and the receivers have got to come up and make the play. Somebodys got to make something happen.
The last two incompletions led to the fourth-and-2 play that ended the Broncos chances. Still, Southwick said the lower-percentage passes were worth the risk.
Weve got to be explosive, said Southwick, who connected with sophomore Matt Miller for a 40-yard gain earlier in the game. We cant just try to get our way down there by making 5-yard gains all the time. Were going to have to take shots.
ONE CARRY FOR FIELDS
True freshman tailback Jack Fields had one carry in his first college game and gained 2 yards.
Petersen was pleased with the way senior starter D.J. Harper played, but wants to see more of Fields.
We need to get him the ball, Petersen said.
YOUNG DBS EMERGE
Sophomore cornerback Bryan Douglas, the No. 3 cornerback, and redshirt freshman Darian Thompson, the No. 3 safety, played extensively in the opener.
Douglas started in place of senior Jerrell Gavins, who has been limited at times as he recovers from last years knee injury. They split time during the game.
Douglas made five tackles and forced a fumble. Gavins made eight tackles.
Thompson made six tackles and recovered a fumble.
(Thompson) had a great spring, he had an excellent offseason program working out and he continued that into the fall, defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said. He deserved a chance tonight.
Boise States experienced offensive line was unable to handle Michigan States talent-rich defensive front in the run game. The Broncos rushed 24 times for 37 yards but didnt allow a sack.
The Broncos were quick to credit the Spartans senior guard Joe Kellogg said its probably the best front seven hes faced in 23 starts but expected more from a line that included two seniors and three juniors.
We could have executed better, but they just kind of outplayed us tonight, Kellogg said.
TOUGH START FOR SOUTHWICK
Southwick was 15-of-31 for 169 yards with no TDs and an interception. Those are disappointing numbers, but they look similar to those posted by Ryan Dinwiddie in his first start in 2001 at South Carolina (32-13 loss).
Dinwiddie was 18-of-31 for 162 yards with a TD and an interception. He and Southwick are the only quarterbacks since 2001 to begin against BCS-conference opponents or on the road.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat