When Boise State true freshman wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes dropped a lateral and didnt jump on the loose football in the season opener, coach Chris Petersen was ticked.
At Williams-Rhodes, of course, for freezing momentarily while Michigan State recovered the fumble.
And at himself, for not finding a more effective way to teach the youngster how to respond in that situation.
We had that exact conversation earlier in the week about very commonly dropped balls, said Petersen, whose 0-1 team faces Miami (Ohio) on Saturday at Bronco Stadium (2 p.m., NBC Sports Network). That was one of them. I was frustrated with myself that I didnt get the point across like I thought I did. That comes with it doesnt necessarily need to be a freshman but a guy whos kind of a first-time player.
That was just one example of the problems that can arise in season openers, particularly with an inexperienced team like Boise States. Others included quarterback Joe Southwicks decisions to protect his body rather than try for a couple of first downs while scrambling and first-year offensive coordinator Robert Prince admittedly moving too slowly with his play calling.
Theres not many things we dont really work on, Petersen said. Some things are really hard to re-create.
None more difficult than the quarterback slide. Defenders arent allowed to hit the quarterbacks in practice, so theres never a threat of bodily harm.
Coaches talked to Southwick about when to slide and when to dive but the emphasis was on self-preservation.
Weve really been on him about sliding and not taking hits, Prince said. Thats what I coached, and thats what he did. Thats on me.
Said Petersen: Youve got to know down and distance, some field-position-type things. We never want our quarterback, regardless of situation unless its the last play of the game and youve got to score running into defenders full speed. Theres those third-down, fourth-down and goal-line situations where hes going to have to be a little more aggressive.
At Michigan State, Southwick ran out of bounds a yard short of the first-down marker on a third-and-6 in the first quarter. On the Broncos final drive of the game, he slid 2 yards short of a first down on third-and-10.
Those guys are coming fast and hes going to take a hit, Petersen said. Theres a certain way that you can split defenders whether youre diving or sliding and still be smart about it and be safe about it.
The Broncos reviewed lessons like those during last weeks bye one of the benefits of an off-week nobody on the team seemed to want.
Petersen talked about four laws of learning explanation, demonstration, imitation and repetition.
Youve got to keep coming back to that, he said. A lot of times what we do is we get them in the film room and we put a play on and we tell them the mistake and then we dont re-create it in practice.
We cant just tell them this is what you have to do. You have to show them.
Boise State debuts the expanded Bronco Stadium on Saturday and it also will be first-year Athletic Director Mark Coyles first chance to attend a Broncos home football game.
Former Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier once touted a long-term vision for the stadium, but thats not necessarily the current vision.
I cant tell you how many plans Ive heard of, Coyle said. Im trying to get my arms around what has actually been looked at. Were constantly evaluating our stadium. Id like to see a home game first and get some of my impressions. The new AD needs to sit down and make a priority for (whats next).
Boise State has about 3,000 single-game tickets in all price levels, 500 season tickets and 250 student tickets available for the Miami game.
The capacity has increased from 33,500 to 37,000. The attendance record is 34,196 for the Air Force game last year.
Offensive line coach Chris Strausser doesnt plan to change the starting lineup after the Broncos rushed for 37 yards in the opener. Backup Brenel Myers played some right guard in that game and likely will play this week, too.
I dont think its so much about the personnel, Strausser said. Obviously across the board it wasnt good enough and we know that and our guys are excited to get out there and fix that and get it right.
Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski counted 20 missed tackles in the loss to Michigan State. Thats about double the normal amount.
The Broncos emphasized tackling during the bye week, but its typically an issue in openers.
You can try to simulate and do as much as you can during camp, but you cant continually do it or youll beat your team up, Kwiatkowski said. You have to be creative with different drills to try to emphasize it, but it doesnt replace live tackling. Bags dont spin and bags dont hit back.
Said senior linebacker J.C. Percy: We scrimmage each other (in camp), but its not the same as it is in a game atmosphere. You dont have the adrenaline like youd have in a game, you dont have the crowd noise. Its different.
The last two times that Boise State lost its season opener, it also lost the next game. The Broncos fell to Georgia and Oregon State in 2005 and South Carolina and Washington State in 2001.
Chadd Cripe is in his 11th season covering Boise State football for the Idaho Statesman. He also is a voter in The Associated Press Top 25. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 377-6398. His Twitter account is @IDS_BroncoBeat.