LAS VEGAS Boise State football coach Chris Petersen talked about his beloved offense Saturday night like an overstuffed closet.
Its time to toss the ugly, the worn out, the ill-fitting.
And Petersen is eager to get started.
Were going to look at our offense from top to bottom, he said. Weve been doing this for a long time and theres a lot of dead weight in it and we need to get rid of a lot of things. Weve already had early discussions, and it will be interesting to see where we go with this whole thing.
The Broncos (11-2) averaged 30.2 points per game this season, which ended with Saturdays 28-26 defeat of Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
Thats the lowest total since 1998 the year before the Broncos began their run of 11 conference championships in 14 years and 7.4 points per game fewer than any previous season since Petersen became the head coach in 2006.
Were starting at ground zero and were going to figure this thing out in terms of whats best for us and the people that we have, Petersen said. The kids improved and all that, but we have to be able to score more points than we scored.
Petersen became the offensive coordinator in 2001. He and his staff have been adding concepts to the playbook ever since creating an eclectic and perhaps burdensome collection.
Two key issues will be on the table as coaches evaluate the playbook improving the run game, which has been inconsistent the past two seasons, and narrowing the teams focus.
Weve got a part of (every offense), Petersen said. Weve been here a long time. You can just keep adding layers. So we need to streamline some things and we need to make it simpler for our quarterbacks and we need to make it simpler for everybody and we need to be able to run the ball somehow a little more effectively.
Two things that arent likely to change the offensive coordinator and quarterback.
First-year coordinator Robert Prince will stay in that role, Petersen said.
I know that guys a very good coach, he said. Its never any one guy. Its not the quarterback, its not the coordinator. Its as much the head coach as anyone, really. When youve got good people, its just about figuring out how do we adjust and keep growing?
Junior QB Joe Southwick cemented his starting spot with a terrific closing four-game stretch to the season. He could have been named MVP of the MAACO Bowl.
In the last four games, he was 79-of-113 (69.9 percent) for 888 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions. He also rushed for a career-high 25 yards in the regular-season finale and topped it with 39 yards (49 gross yards) in the bowl game.
It is (his job), Petersen said. Joes done a good job. But its always going to be a competition. And its not fair to anybody in this program to say, Youre the guy, period. The good thing about it is those other guys are good players and when they get this thing figured out theyre going to push Joe.
Southwick allowed his instincts to guide him more late in the season, as he became more comfortable as the starting quarterback. His lack of running proved costly in the season-opening loss to Michigan State and his effective running was a difference-maker against Washington.
Sometimes you get into a robot mode when youre a quarterback at this level, Southwick said. Technically, someone should be open. Its (option) one, two, three. Someone should be open. In the game of football, it doesnt work like that. Really, it goes back to my instincts. Just playing football. It was awesome to be able to use them.
In that closing four-game winning streak, the Broncos averaged 36.5 points and 438.8 yards per game.
In the first nine games, they averaged 27.4 points and 370.2 yards per game.
All year, Ive known I could play at this level, Southwick said. Its just a lot of work, a lot of moving parts, to fit the puzzle together. The last three or four games, its really showed. Weve been executing at a higher level on offense.
The goal for 2013: Pair that improved execution with an improved, cleaner offensive plan.
Im excited about this offseason, Petersen said.
DEFENSE HAS WORK TO DO, TOO
Boise State defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski wasnt pleased to see his group allow a 100-yard rusher for the sixth time this season in the MAACO Bowl. Washingtons Bishop Sankey rushed for 205 yards and racked up 279 yards from scrimmage to take the MVP award.
The Broncos will see him again in their next game, Aug. 31 against the Huskies in Seattle.
The Broncos rank ninth in the nation in scoring defense (15.8 points per game), 12th in total defense (315.6 yards per game) and sixth in pass defense (169.5), but they are 45th in run defense (146.2).
It starts in the weight room, Kwiatkowski said. Weve got to get bigger. Weve got to get stronger. Weve got to continue to improve on being a physical team on the line of scrimmage, to get off blocks and not let guys hold us. Im talking about the D-line, the linebackers and the DBs.
LET THE BUILDUP BEGIN
The Broncos and Huskies meet in 250 days.
Its going to be another four-quarter game, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. Its going to be a slugfest.
Said Boise State center Matt Paradis: (The MAACO Bowl) is going to build the anticipation a lot. Theyre going to want to come back and see revenge, and we dont want to let them do that.
Coaches will have eight months to learn from what happened at Sam Boyd Stadium. Washington was 2-of-9 on third downs in the first half and 6-of-9 in the second half because of what its coaches learned on the fly in the first half.
We adjusted a few things that we were doing and how we were attacking them, Sarkisian said. We got matchups that we liked. Hopefully we can build on that the next time we play them.
Southwicks fourth-and-1 sneak on the game-winning drive nearly ended the Broncos hopes. Sarkisian wasnt sure Southwick gained the half-yard and considered challenging the spot. He didnt want to risk a timeout.
At first, I was like, Uh-oh, I dont know if Ive got this, Southwick said. Then I really lowered my legs and tried to move that pile as little bit as I could. It was good enough for a first down.
On Boise States game-clinching interception, senior linebacker J.C. Percy left his assignment in the Broncos zone to provide an extra defender in the area of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The 6-foot-6 receiver was quarterback Keith Prices primary target. Price saw the coverage and decided to throw deep down the middle to Cody Bruns, but safety Jeremy Ioane read the quarterbacks eyes, jumped the route and intercepted the pass.
Jeremy made a great play right there, breaking on that ball, Percy said.
A FASTER PACE
Boise State appeared to use its no-huddle attack more in the MAACO Bowl than it had all year. The up-tempo approach was a staple during Kellen Moores tenure at quarterback.
The quarterbacks seem to always like it we always start there, Petersen said. It can keep a defense on their heels. It can sometimes neutralize defensive coordinators and those types of things.
Washingtons defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, was Boise States coordinator from 2006 to 2009 and is known for his game-planning expertise.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat