Monday Morning Report Card: San Diego State 34, Boise State 31 (OT)

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comNovember 25, 2013 

Brian Murphy hands out the grades for Boise State's 34-31 OT loss to San Diego State.

OFFENSE

Boise State gained a season-low 297 yards of total offense against San Diego State. For the fifth time in the past two seasons, the Broncos were held without a first-half touchdown. Boise State had just 49 yards on 23 first-half plays. Things got a bit better in the second half. Running back Jay Ajayi accounted for 158 yards (103 rushing and 55 receiving). Wide receivers Matt Miller (eight catches, 80 yards) and Shane Williams-Rhodes (six catches, 40 yards) each scored touchdowns in the second half. Quarterback Grant Hedrick was 21-of-35 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked four times and threw two interceptions, including a costly pick-6 in the second half. "He struggled," coach Chris Petersen said. Said Hedrick: "In a close game like that, the details really matter. We just needed to make some plays that we didn't and it kind of came back to bite us."

The Broncos were an abysmal 2-for-15 on third-down conversions, including 0-for-5 in the first half and 0-for-4 in the fourth quarter. Hedrick's pick-6 came on a third down when Boise State was at its own 8 in the fourth quarter. Later, Hedrick was sacked on third-and-2, and San Diego State returned the ensuing punt for a TD. Still later, the Broncos were stuffed on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1. "We've got to be able to get a yard," Petersen said. Grade: D

DEFENSE

Boise State held San Diego State to 349 yards of total offense. The Aztecs scored 14 offensive points in the first 20 minutes of the game, and then the Broncos' defense shut them out for the final 40 minutes of regulation. Of course, in overtime, the Aztecs scored on their first — and only — possession. The Broncos had nine tackles for loss, including three by Demarcus Lawrence and two from Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe. Opposing receivers still seem to be able to get open too easily against the Broncos' secondary, including on the game's final play. Cornerback Mercy Maston, who started in place of Bryan Douglas, had seven tackles but allowed several catches, including the final touchdown. Cornerback Donte Deayon came up with a tremendous interception and two pass breakups. "Our defense, for the most part, played well enough for us to win, if the other two phases are tightened up a bit," Petersen said. San Diego State converted 8-of-19 third-down tries and 3-of-4 fourth-down attempts. Grade: C

SPECIAL TEAMS

Boise State got "hammered" on special teams in its 21-19 home loss in 2012 to San Diego State. The Broncos played much better on special teams in this one — until late in the game. Douglas returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to knot the game at 7-7 in the first quarter. If not for two big special teams turnovers, the Broncos' anemic offensive performance would have been even more pronounced. Early in the third quarter, a Sean Wale punt hit a San Diego State blocker and Boise State recovered. The turnover flipped field position, and Boise State eventually capitalized for a TD. On the ensuing kickoff, Dillon Lukehart forced a fumble and Taylor Loffler recovered. Boise State scored four plays later. That was the good. In the fourth quarter came the bad. San Diego State returned a punt 41 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. Kicker Dan Goodale, who had made 12 consecutive field goals, missed a 43-yarder as time expired that would have given Boise State the win. "We made a play on special teams, but we gave up a couple on special teams. Advantage, San Diego State — again," Petersen said. Grade: C-

COACHING

For the first time in Petersen's head-coaching tenure, Boise State has lost four regular-season games and lost to the same team in consecutive years. Offensive coordinator Robert Prince is drawing criticism from some fans, and the play calling at some important moments left something to be desired Saturday night. It's an unfamiliar position for these coaches, most of whom have had tremendous successes at Boise State. "It's going to be interesting to see how we bounce back," Hedrick said. Grade: C-

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