Brian Murphy hands out the grades for Boise States 40-14 win over Southern Miss
Boise State took advantage of its chances on offense, turning five Southern Miss turnovers into 27 points in its 40-14 rout of the Golden Eagles. All four touchdown drives took four plays or less, a testament to the great field position the Broncos had and their ability to quickly capitalize. Boise State still needs more consistency from its running game, which averaged just 3.3 yards per attempt and had plenty of negative-yardage plays. Tailbacks D.J. Harper and Jay Ajayi combined for 87 yards on 22 attempts. Quarterback Joe Southwick was again efficient, completing 18-of-27 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. He threw an early interception while on the run, but spread the ball to eight different receivers. The offense did what it needed to against Southern Miss, despite converting on just 2-of-11 third-down tries. The most positive development: a 10-play, 69-yard touchdown drive in the second half to finish off Southern Miss. Grade: B-
Boise State has now forced an incredible 17 turnovers in 20 quarters. The Broncos got interceptions from freshman linebacker Tyler Gray and freshman safety Darian Thompson and a forced fumble from freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu on a beautiful sack, strip and recover play. Notice a trend here. Despite playing so many young players, the Broncos defense has been stout. Southern Miss rarely looked comfortable and there were several other balls that could have been intercepted. No player had more than six tackles as the Broncos showed impressive depth at all three levels of the defense. The defense will face its biggest passing test next week against Fresno State. Grade: A-
One of the less heralded aspects of the Broncos 4-1 start has been the teams excellent kickoff coverage unit. The group had another strong game against Southern Miss. Josh Borgman recovered a muffed punt, yet another turnover. Kicker Michael Frisina made both short field goal attempts, though Boise State did have an extra-point attempt blocked. Harper broke off a 54-yard kickoff return and the Broncos special teams have been solid most of the year. Grade: B
It is clear that the Broncos keep getting better, just little things here and there. And its clear that the coaching staff has a great handle on the personnel. Linebackers coach Bob Gregory decides that Gray is ready for a larger role and the linebacker promptly picks off a pass. Chris Petersen has shown continued faith in Frisina and was rewarded with two field goals. Despite the early start and hot conditions, the Broncos were ready to play and had no second-half lapse after working on post-halftime play in the week leading up to the game. Grade: B+
IN THE POLLS
Boise State is back in The Associated Press Top 25. The Broncos, who have been flirting with the last few spots of the poll for weeks but unable to stick there, were No. 24 on Sunday. In the USA Today Coaches Poll, Boise State moved up three spots to No. 22. Boise State also is No. 22 in the Harris poll, which made its debut Sunday.