The Broncos’ defense bent Saturday, but it never quite broke.
The Washington State offense, known for putting up yards and points in a hurry, was held to 28 points Saturday. Six of the first nine Cougar drives ended in Boise State territory, and just one resulted in points, and that was the result of a Cougars’ interception return.
“You could tell those receivers, when they were catching it, they were getting a little scared because guys were coming down and hitting them,” senior linebacker Ben Weaver said.
A Boise State defense that was missing starting middle linebacker Joe Martarano, and full of first-year starters, knuckled up when the going got tough, stopping three second-half drives on fourth down. On the first, the Broncos stuffed quarterback Luke Falk on a fourth-and-1 on a sneak attempt at the Broncos’ 13-yard line while holding a 24-7 lead.
But the biggest play came late, when Washington State running back Jamal Morrow was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Broncos’ 46, trying to get within one score, trailing 31-21. The final stop was Falk’s desperation heave at the end of regulation that senior cornerback Raymond Ford knocked down well short of the end zone.
“We moved the ball from the 20 to 20 all game long. We just didn’t capitalize,” Morrow said.
At times, the Boise State offense didn’t help, as two of the Cougars’ scoring drives were set up by Shalom Luani interceptions off Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, starting at the 26- and 33-yard lines.
“Definitely some uncharacteristic mistakes I made tonight,” Rypien said.
Sophomore defensive tackle David Moa was credited with 1.5 sacks. All three Boise State starting linebackers had at least 10 tackles: seniors Darren Lee (who started for Martarano), Tanner Vallejo and Weaver, who had 10, 14 and 15, respectively.
“We expect nothing less, we’re the veteran group of the defense,” Weaver said. “We hold ourselves to extremely high standards.”
FIVE DON’T SUIT UP
Boise State had five regulars who were not available for the game: Martarano, junior tight end Jake Roh, junior quarterback Tommy Stuart, junior safety Kam Miles and redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Whitney.
Martarano and Roh were nursing known injuries, but the reasons for the other three’s absences were not provided by Boise State during the game. Afterward, Harsin said they were minor injuries, and expects them to return for the Broncos’ next game Sept. 24 at Oregon State.
ALL-BLUE TEAM HONORED
At halftime, the 30 members of Boise State’s All-Blue Team, which was selected as the best players of the last 30 years in a fan vote, were honored at Albertsons Stadium.
Three were named Friday as write-in winners (defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford, running back Brock Forsey and defensive back Quintin Mikell).
Safety Marty Tadman, linebacker Korey Hall, defensive lineman Erik Helgeson, kicker Kyle Brotzman, tight end Jeb Putzier and Forsey were on hand for the game.
Three players from the 1986 team, the first to play on the blue turf, were honorary captains for the coin toss: Lance Sellers, Tom DeWitz and Eric Andrade. ... Boise State wore blue helmets, jerseys and pants. Washington State wore white helmets, jerseys and pants. ... The 30-yard line’s numbering is in orange with a white backdrop. The others are white with an orange backdrop. It honors the 30th anniversary of the blue turf. ... Sophomore tight end Jake Knight (Rocky Mountain High) carried out The Hammer for his crushing block at Louisiana that helped spring receiver A.J. Richardson for a 31-yard gain. Knight also switched his number from 93 to 84 this week. ... Senior defensive end Sam McCaskill blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt with 6:30 left before halftime and the Broncos holding a 14-0 lead. ... Boise State had three penalties for 35 yards, Washington State had 10 for 79 yards.