Boise State returns home in desperate need of offense.
No one wants to overreact to a single game, even if it was the Broncos worst offensive performance since Chris Petersen joined the staff in 2001, even if Boise State failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1997.
It was one game, right? Against a very good defensive team in Michigan State, right? And the Broncos have had two weeks to work out the kinks, right?
Numbers like 37 rushing yards (119th in the Football Bowl Subdivision) and 206 total yards (120th in FBS) are anomalies, right?
The Broncos will be right back to scoring 41.77 points, their scoring average since 2000, in no time, right?
Lets just say Im not so sure. Im not convinced there is a switch for this team to flip. Im not sold on that going from Michigan State to Miami (Ohio) is all this offense needs to start humming once again.
It feels to me like we still have so many questions to get answered, Petersen said.
From play-calling to execution, from personnel to production, there were enough questions to keep the Broncos very busy during their two-week hiatus from the playing field.
It wasnt just about (quarterback Joe Southwick). Its about everybody, first-year offensive coordinator Robert Prince said. The whole offense, including myself.
The Broncos are confident that the break has given them ample time to work out the kinks on offense. To fix the sloppiness that cost them dearly against the Spartans. To clean up the details, to borrow a phrase used often around the program.
This week has been great for what weve needed to correct and what weve needed to move forward with, wide receiver Chris Potter said.
Still, questions remain.
Is Prince, in his first year as an offensive coordinator at any level, ready for the task? He admitted to not getting plays in as quickly as he needed to in the opener and he took much of the blame for the Broncos poor performance. Some of it was surely coachspeak and deflecting blame from his players. That doesnt mean there wasnt some truth at its core.
Ive got to coach better and the offense has got to perform, he said.
Is the offensive line, which was supposed to be a strength, yet was stuffed by Michigan State, capable of being a dominant run-blocking unit? The Broncos averaged 200.2 yards per game on the ground in 2010. Last year, they slipped to 171.9 yards per game.
We didnt play well enough and thats the bottom line, said straight-shooting left guard Joe Kellogg of the opener. We need to find a way to be more productive.
Can Southwick be more efficient? The first-time starter played OK, as Petersen put it after the Michigan State game. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw a costly interception at the goal line. Southwick seemed to grow more comfortable as the game wore on a good sign moving forward.
Theres a handful of plays, if we can make at that position, well win the game. Ive been around a lot of pretty good players. Some can make em. Some cant, Petersen said. You dont expect him to make them all. Guys can help him out. Its just one of those games where the margin for error is so slim, that youve got to make those plays.
Can new personnel make a difference? Petersen wants to get freshman running back Jack Fields more than one carry. Electrifying freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes had four touches (and one fumble). Can the new guys complement veterans such as D.J. Harper, Matt Miller, Kirby Moore and Mitch Burroughs to produce more explosive plays? The Broncos had just two plays longer than 13 yards.
It was just one game.
Against a tough opponent in a tough environment.
With a lot of new faces on offense.
After today, none of that will apply.