Methodical, not magical.
Safe, not risky.
Simple, not creative.
The Boise State football team’s 24-7 win Friday night at BYU — the Broncos’ first win in Provo since 2003 — was everything on the left side of those sentences.
And that’s OK.
The Broncos’ coaches and players play first and foremost to win. BYU’s offense, which has more problems than Boise State’s, was only going to score often if the Broncos helped the Cougars with turnovers.
BYU’s defense is still stout enough to limit big plays and cause turnovers, like the interception the Cougars grabbed on Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien’s first pass of the night. That play led to BYU’s only touchdown of the game — and made it clear what the Broncos needed to do.
Commit to the run. Make some key throws over the middle to pick up first downs. Eat the clock.
Win the game.
And that’s exactly what the Broncos did. It won’t stop the calls for coach Bryan Harsin’s job, or the calls for Rypien to be benched. Rypien threw his first touchdown pass of the season but accounted for just 125 passing yards.
The Broncos, coming off their worst home loss in 16 years and a bye, finally showed some life in the run game. Sophomore tailback Alexander Mattison, who looked lost in the last couple games, was relegated to backup status. He became the featured back again after freshman starter Robert Mahone fumbled, and Mattison responded with the best game of his career. He hit the hole hard when he needed to, used patience to let his blockers work when he had to and even turned a stuffed run into a touchdown — the type of playmaking missing from the offense all season.
The maligned offensive line, even missing center Mason Hampton, made Mattison’s breakout night possible and kept Rypien from absorbing the hits he dealt with earlier in the season.
Was this good enough to beat San Diego State next week? Most certainly not.
But it was a step in the right direction — a major improvement over the team we saw Sept. 22 against Virginia or Sept. 14 against New Mexico.
And that, along with winning, is any football team’s focus: Get better.
Joseph Foster: Glad to see them run the ball more!! Still wish for a little more excitement on offense.
Klete Howard: They finally made a real commitment to running the ball, and it made all the difference. If you make opposing defenses stop the run game, the passing game will open up. Good job coaches, and best “O” line game this year. GO BRONCOS!
Josh Mouat: As much as I like Cozart, I think Rypien is the better option and using two QBs messes with the rhythm of the offense.
I’ll have a full-length column in Sunday’s newspaper and late Saturday at IdahoStatesman.com.