BRONCOS WITH THE BALL
On a roll: Boise State has scored touchdowns on 13 of its past 16 possessions with senior quarterback Joe Southwick on the field. Two of the other three drives ended with turnovers deep in opposing territory. Theyre starting to hit their stride on offense, and thats going to be a big challenge for us to contain them, Fresno State safety Derron Smith said.
Tough start for Bulldogs: Like Boise States offense, Fresno States defense didnt perform well in the opener. It allowed 543 yards and 51 points to Rutgers. But the Bulldogs were terrific on defense last year, when they finished fourth against the pass. Fresnos a different beast than maybe the past two (teams) that weve played, Boise State wide receiver Kirby Moore said. We need to be ready to go.
BULLDOGS WITH THE BALL
Another spread attack: Like Washington and UT Martin, Fresno State will spread the field with receivers and throw a lot of short, quick passes to the outside to get its best athletes in space. The talent is similar to Washingtons. Thats a highly effective offense, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. We have to have improved from game one.
Road block: Fresno State hasnt run the ball as effectively without former coach Pat Hill. The Bulldogs average 121.5 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry. The run game is a major culprit in the third-down problems the Bulldogs rank 110th in conversions (27.3 percent). Weve got to be able to find a back where when we have a third-and-1, hes going to find that yard, coach Tim DeRuyter said.
Dont kick it there: This game features two of the nations most dangerous punt returners but dont be surprised if neither gets a chance at a return. Boise States Shane Williams-Rhodes has a 23.7-yard average but didnt get a shot against Air Force. Fresno States Isaiah Burse returned two punts for touchdowns two weeks ago against Cal Poly. The wide receiver has averaged 16.7 yards per touch in his career.
Rivalry within the rivalry: These two programs have taken great pride in their special teams abilities throughout the 13-year series. The speed and physicality on those plays should be at or near the peak for the season. Last year, we both duked it out pretty good, Boise State special teams coach Scott Huff said. It is a great rivalry.
BOISE STATES PASS RUSH VS. FRESNO STATES OFFENSIVE LINE
One of the challenges of trying to stop a spread offense is finding ways to pressure the quarterback. Many of the plays are designed to get the ball out of the quarterbacks hand so quickly that pressure isnt possible. Other times, defenses are forced to rush a limited number of players to protect against the big play.
But to stop the Bulldogs, the Broncos likely will need a sack that leads to a punt or a turnover, which often comes from pressuring the quarterback.
Last year, the Broncos sacked Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr three times. Carr is more mobile this season and the Bulldogs have allowed just one sack in two games.
Hell run if he needs to, but he can buy time with his feet, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. ... (Pressure) is really important and hard to do because of the quick (passing) game, because he gets rid of the ball so quickly.
The Broncos have three sacks this season. Washington and UT Martin, like Fresno State, threw the ball quickly to avoid pressure. Air Force rarely threw.
Carr emphasized sack avoidance in the offseason.
Im trying to play more physical, he said. In the pocket, I try to be better against pressure.