Murphy: Despite slow start, Broncos’ goals attainable

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comSeptember 28, 2013 

— The words are right there in the front of the Boise State football team room in the new Bleymaier Football Complex.

The building, like the team that occupies it, remains a work in progress. But the letters at the front of the team room are hung perfectly and spell out the program’s mission:

“Our goal is to win the MWC championship and a bowl game with class, integrity and academic excellence.”

Boise State (2-2) is off to its worst start since 2005, the year before Chris Petersen was promoted to head coach and began reeling off undefeated seasons as if they were a birthright.

With two losses, the Broncos’ hopes for a third Bowl Championship Series appearance in the Petersen era have been dashed.

Their chances of hosting the inaugural Mountain West championship game at Bronco Stadium on Dec. 7 are slimmer than before last week’s loss at Fresno State.

As great as it would have been for the Broncos to reach a BCS game in the final year of the system, and as cool as it would be to have the first Mountain West championship game in your home stadium, Boise State’s main objective — the one spelled out in all capital letters at the front of its team room — is still very much in play.

“It’s the same goals we always have — compete and improve every week. If we do that, we’re still going to be happy toward the end of the season,” wide receiver Matt Miller said. “Our season isn’t in the trash yet. We can still do good stuff.”

It has been easy to lose sight of that, especially for a fan base (and program) that is used to nothing but success. The Broncos have had 15 consecutive winning seasons. In 12 of those, Boise State has won at least 10 games. In eight, the Broncos lost one game or less.

It has been easy to lose sight of that still attainable goal with the 2-2 start, the woeful performance in Seattle, the new offense, the porous defense, the youthful mistakes on that side of the ball and the near-miss in Fresno.

While fans and media fixate on the results, players and coaches insist they are not focused on the ups and downs of weekly results. Instead, they are focused on process.

Competing.

Improving.

Trusting in the process that has served the program well.

“This process has been developed over a long period of time,” defensive end Beau Martin said.

If you’re looking for players moping around — particularly after last week’s loss at Fresno State — you’re looking in the wrong place.

Boise State’s players want to win as bad as anyone, as bad as ever. But they also want to play in competitive, exciting games.

They want to be challenged. They want to play in thrilling games.

Play in enough of them, and you’re going to lose.

“That’s how it’s supposed to be. I like it like that. I don’t like to go in and just kick everybody’s butt. That’s not fun,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said.

“The games like what we played last week are really fun. Even though we took the loss, I’ll remember those games. My sophomore year, when we played TCU here, those are the games I remember more than the Tennessee-Martins because I don’t play the whole game.”

So why would they be down? They played in a game that is likely to be one of the most exciting college football games of the year.

And they know that their biggest goals — a Mountain West title and a bowl victory — are within their reach.

“Mentally weak people that feel down like that will waste away and probably wouldn’t make it in big-time college football,” defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said.

All is not lost.

All is not won, either.

Boise State players acknowledged this week, even though they aren’t thinking about it right now, that a return to Fresno could await — if they keep improving, keep competing, keep trusting the process.

By then, by Dec. 7, the football building should have its finishing touches completed. The team that resides there for countless hours each day is aiming for the same.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @murphsturph

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