The Boise State football team practiced short-yardage and goal-line plays Wednesday.
If the band had been there, the fight song would have played frequently.
"The running backs are all really physical," senior wide receiver Kirby Moore said. "On the goal line (Wednesday), I think they scored every time."
That was the latest sign of improvement in the Broncos' run game, which has been a major emphasis since the 2012 season ended.
The progress will be tested for a final time this spring Saturday in the annual Spring Game, which begins at 5 p.m. at Bronco Stadium.
The offense controlled the first scrimmage, which was closed to the media and public, in part because it ran the ball well - something that is usually difficult in scrimmages.
"We're not really so concerned about the statistics part of it, which is all anybody's going to see," offensive line coach Chris Strausser said. "I want to see guys get better at their run-blocking technique, and I want to have that mentality on Saturday of 'take charge in the run game.' That should equate to us being decent running the ball. Spring is spring, and sometimes you get a mismatch here or there that changes the game, but our first scrimmage we ran the ball how we should, and that should happen Saturday."
The Broncos' determination to run the ball more efficiently this year extends beyond the usual suspects - the offensive line, tailbacks and tight ends - to the quarterbacks, who are involved as ball carriers, and the wide receivers, who have improved their blocking.
"We saw a lot of plays on film from last year that were one block away from (tailback D.J. Harper) going 60, or D.J. going 50," Moore said, "so we don't want to make those mistakes any more."
The Broncos averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored 25 touchdowns on the ground last year. Those numbers were comparable to 2011 but well down from 2010, when they averaged 5.4 yards per carry and rushed for 34 TDs.
The Broncos ranked 55th in the nation last year with 168.2 rushing yards per game.
"There's a lot we can get better at, and I know that, but I think the mentality part of it has been really good," Strausser said. "Our guys are anxious to run the ball, and they don't like to be in the middle of the country in terms of rushing the ball. That's not where we're used to being, so our mind-set is, 'Let's get better.' So from that standpoint, it's been great."
The offensive line is a contrasting mix of the vastly experienced and almost completely inexperienced.
Seniors Charles Leno Jr. (left tackle), Spencer Gerke (left guard) and Matt Paradis (center) have played well this spring.
Sophomores Rees Odhiambo (right tackle) and Marcus Henry (right guard), who played a handful of meaningful snaps last year, have been less consistent and might get competition in the fall from improving redshirt freshmen Travis Averill, Mario Yakoo and Steven Baggett. Oft-injured senior Jake Broyles also is in the mix.
"It's been a little bit inconsistent," Strausser said of the line. "That's the part that has been the most disappointing for me. We came out really well early on. We came back from spring break and struggled with some stuff."
The linemen will block for a youthful group of tailbacks led by redshirt sophomore Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 548 yards (6.7 yards per carry) last season as Harper's backup.
True sophomore Jack Fields (135 yards last year) and junior college transfer Derrick Thomas, who arrived in January, are the only other tailbacks who have played beyond high school.
Running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said the youth has led to lapses of focus and knowledge, but he likes the group's talent.
"Having the guys we had in the past, these guys have just as much potential as those guys, and we have some time with them, so that's exciting," Bhonapha said.
Fans clamored for more of Ajayi last season - and that shouldn't be a problem this year. The 6-foot, 215-pounder has shown explosive running ability throughout spring ball.
"I've been really excited about Jay," Bhonapha said. "Practice after practice, he's gotten better. It's good to see a guy like him who's played the most take that next step where he is showing some consistency in practice. I expect him to really let that snowball into the summer and into fall camp."
Added Leno: "I'm looking forward to seeing some really great things out of him this year."
Fields (5-9, 198) and Thomas (6-0, 207) also bring some pop to the backfield. Redshirt freshman Devan Demas (5-8, 175) provides a changeup with his quickness.
"I like the way they run," Strausser said. " They're going to try to run you over."
That approach has been noticed - and appreciated - by blockers, defenders and defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.
"It's just more downhill, and the backs are running hard and (the linemen) are doing a good job staying on blocks," Kwiatkowski said. "They've been able to keep you off-balance with the pass game. It's been difficult (to defend)."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat