Murphy: Ajayi gets out of a pickle in a big way

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comSeptember 14, 2013 

— Jay Ajayi had a busy Friday night. Boise State’s starting running back set a career high in rushing yards.

He matched his touchdown total from all of last season.

He found his way in — and out — of coach Chris Petersen’s doghouse.

And, to top it all off, he may have sparked a new post-workout drinking craze with his unusual sideline beverage choice.

“I guess that’s now a thing,” Ajayi said.

Yes, drinking pickle juice from a giant jar in front of ESPN’s cameras will make it “a thing.”

“I’ve seen some text messages, some pictures,” Ajayi said after the game.

How exactly does one start chugging pickle juice on the sideline?

Ajayi said he was battling minor cramps at halftime when teammate Ebo Makinde suggested the pickle juice and offered to get him a jar out of his locker.

Why not, right?

“I’ll try it,” Ajayi said. “I just started drinking. It worked. So it did its job.”

And so did Ajayi, who carried 17 times for 125 yards and four touchdowns against the Falcons.

Ajayi, a bruising 6-foot, 220-pound runner, scored on a 20-yard run down the left sideline on an outside zone on his lone carry of the second quarter.

“We got a great seal on the edge and I was able to hit the sideline. It’s all about reading the leverage and the blocks,” Ajayi said. “I was just ready to go where it hit.”

The second half, which began in a steady rain, did not start out as promising.

Ajayi had five carries on the Broncos’ first possession of the third quarter, but his final two ended up as fumbles. Boise State offensive lineman Marcus Henry recovered the first. Ajayi was not so lucky on the second.

Air Force pounced on the loose ball at its own 5.

“Those fumbles were unacceptable,” said Ajayi, who shed his gloves after the first fumble. “… We always harp on it in the running back room. I knew right away I was going to get benched.”

The benching was short-lived. The Broncos went to a two-back set on the next possession, and Ajayi carried the ball on the second play.

“I will say this: If he does it again, we’ve got a bunch of other backs and he won’t come back. You better hang on to that football. That’s game-changing,” coach Chris Petersen said. “We understand we’re not going to play perfect at all times but that’s one of those things we have to be able to do is hang on to the ball. And we’ll have some other guys that can.

“… It’s probably a good thing I’m not the running back coach.”

A good thing because Ajayi had three more touchdowns left in him. Just minutes after the fumbles, he scored on a 35-yard run down the left sideline to extend the Broncos’ edge to 28-17.

Ajayi scored on fourth-quarter runs of nine and two yards to cap his career night. Ajayi scored four rushing touchdowns last season. He now has six on the season.

“Jay’s going to be our workhorse,” quarterback Joe Southwick said. “I think that’s pretty obvious.”

Ajayi set a school record with his 6.68 yards per carry average last season, when he rushed for 548 yards — the most by a Boise State freshman since Ian Johnson’s 663 in 2005.

His sophomore season is off to a sterling start.

It’s going to be pretty hard to slow him down.

As long as he can hold onto the ball.

And as long as there is a large supply of pickle juice on hand.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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