The Boise State football team returned from a rare late-season break Sunday more rejuvenated than rusty.
The No. 25 Broncos took Thursday through Saturday off for Thanksgiving, allowing players to visit their families. They regrouped Sunday to begin preparing for Saturdays regular-season finale at Nevada and a chance to secure a share of the Mountain West championship.
Practice was really clean (Sunday), junior quarterback Joe Southwick said. Whatever guys were doing, I think it was good. I feel refreshed. The arm feels a little refreshed. It was nice to get away and see the family. Youre kind of excited to go back to practice and get better.
The Broncos (9-2 overall, 6-1 Mountain West) had played 10 straight weeks before the bye and toward the end, injuries were piling up.
They expect to get senior starting wide receiver Mitch Burroughs (missed five games before a token snap on senior day) and senior starting nickel Dextrell Simmons (missed two games, limited for a third) back to full duty this week.
When we first looked at the schedule we were thinking its not ideal having a bye right before the last game, coach Chris Petersen said. The way it worked out was fine.
While the Broncos were off, Fresno State and San Diego State completed their regular seasons with 7-1 conference records to win shares of the Mountain West title.
Boise State can make it a three-way tie by beating Nevada.
Thats really important to us, Petersen said of the conference title, one of the programs primary goals. Its always that fine balance. You want the kids to feel it, to feel that sense of urgency, but not so much to not put your best foot forward.
NOT GREAT YET
The Broncos defense ranks fifth in the nation in points allowed (14.4 per game) and eighth in yards allowed (293.3 per game). But Petersen doesnt want to talk about how good that group is.
I dont want to get into this being this great defense, he said. Every time we do that you know what happens the next game and I mean that jokingly and seriously.
Nevada ranks 16th in scoring offense (38.5 points per game) and 10th in yards (509.5 per game).
This is going to be a great test, Petersen said. This isnt your conventional offense thats pro style and we know how to play against some of those things. This is a great way to end the regular season, for this defense, to see how they show up. This will be our best test, our biggest test of the year on defense, without question.
Safety Lee Hightower and tight end Hayden Plinke remain suspended. Nothing has changed with their status, Petersen said. Petersen on his name surfacing in connection with many job openings in college football during his tenure: Its just rumors. I dont even think half the time its reporters. Everyones a reporter these days. The only trouble is in recruiting. Ninety-nine point nine percent is always completely false. The problem is .1. But there hasnt even been .1.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat