Monday Morning Report Card: Boise State 34, Utah State 23

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comOctober 14, 2013 

Brian Murphy hands out the grades for Boise State’s 34-23 win over Utah State.

OFFENSE

The Broncos had six scoring drives. Each went at least 44 yards, including back-to-back touchdown drives of 89 and 91 yards in the second quarter. Quarterback Joe Southwick threw for a career-high 335 yards and two touchdowns and added his third rushing touchdown of the season. Running back Jay Ajayi, reassuming the workhorse role, rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes was the star in the passing game, catching 13 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown.

The Broncos’ nine other drives, however, left something to be desired by coaches and players. None of those drives lasted longer than five plays or 24 yards. Utah State was credited with 10 tackles for loss. Boise State had three interceptions, two by Southwick — the first multi-interceptions game of his career. Southwick’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Burks late in the second quarter was a thing of beauty, as was Ajayi’s spinning 19-yard run in the second quarter against one of the top defenses in the Mountain West. Grade: B-

DEFENSE

The Broncos are playing with more confidence defensively as they reach the midpoint of the regular season. The defensive backfield, in particular, looks more confident. Cornerback Bryan Douglas defended two pass attempts in the end zone at the end of the first half and also picked off a pass. Fellow corner Donte Deayon matched that with two pass breakups and one interception. Linebackers Ben Weaver and Corey Bell tied for the team lead with 12 tackles. Defensive tackle Armand Nance (10 tackles, one sack) continues to be a force inside in his first complete season along the defensive front. The defensive line — with Nance, Demarcus Lawrence, Beau Martin and Kharyee Marshall — combined for four sacks. The Aggies were without standout quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Grade: B

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker Dan Goodale had six touchbacks in seven kickoffs. He has 22 touchbacks on the season. Goodale also connected on both of his field goal attempts. Offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr. blocked a field goal attempt at the end of the second quarter, a key play at that time. Utah State did a nice job on kickoff coverage, pinning the Broncos inside the 20 on three kickoffs. The Broncos also had a punt blocked in the final seconds of the first half. Grade: B

COACHING

Utah State took advantage of a lack of aggression on Chris Petersen’s part late in the first half. Petersen was content to take a 24-10 lead into halftime when the Broncos got the ball at their own 13 with 51 seconds remaining. Utah State, however, used its timeouts to force a Boise State punt, which was blocked. Petersen said it was a good lesson and showed that he needs to be more aggressive. With a senior quarterback and an offense capable of playing quickly, the Broncos can certainly be more aggressive in spots. Grade: C

IN THE POLLS

Boise State received three points in the USA Today Coaches’ poll, but no points in the Associated Press Top 25 or the Harris Interactive Poll, which was released for the first time this season.

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