Boise State’s offense has shown what it is capable of, especially in first halves, and its defense has routinely stepped up to challenges this season.
Special teams is still finding its footing.
In Saturday’s 38-24 win at Oregon State, the Broncos were unable to fall on an onside kick in the third quarter when Adley Rutschman recovered his own kickoff at the Beavers’ 48-yard line. With 3:21 left to play, they allowed Victor Bolden to return a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.
“That stuff right there, that’s certainly things that are coached and talked about, but it didn’t get done,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
In the positive column, kicker Tyler Rausa made his only field goal try, a 29-yarder to end the first half that made it 31-7, and senior receiver Chaz Anderson recovered Oregon State’s onside kick after Bolden’s score.
But Bolden had 29 yards on three punt returns and added 206 yards on four kickoff returns. It will give the team plenty to chew on before it faces Utah State at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in its Mountain West opener.
“We’re going to go back and obviously evaluate the special teams area,” Harsin said. “We’ve got to be much better, and there’s no doubt about that. We’re going to need to go back and reanalyze everything that we do there and why it happened.”
Boise State has created two turnovers this season, and both turned into touchdowns.
First was sophomore cornerback Tyler Horton’s 85-yard interception return Sept. 10 against Washington State.
On Saturday, it was linebacker Darren Lee’s 19-yard fumble return for a score in the fourth quarter.
“The ones that we do get, I guess we’ll take that,” Harsin said. “If every time we get one, we score a touchdown, we’re in good shape.”
Last season, Boise State was tied for fifth in the nation with 31 takeaways. The team has drilled on picking up loose balls in practice, even if it’s an incompletion, to get into the mindset to get any available turnover.
“We need to emphasize turnovers more,” Lee said. “They’re very few in between.”
Senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo, whose 11.5 tackles per game were ranked eighth in the nation entering the day, had four first-half tackles but did not play in the second half.
Vallejo was seen on the sidelines in street clothes, but he walked off the field early in the fourth quarter and headed for the locker room.
“I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with him,” Harsin said.
A few Broncos were helped off the field late, but no injuries appeared serious. Redshirt freshman safety Evan Tyler left with an apparent knee injury in the first half and did not return. Harsin said it could be a long-term injury, but he expects to know more this week.
Junior tight end Jake Roh, who missed the first two games, played Saturday but did not have a reception. Junior linebacker Joe Martarano, who has not played since the first quarter Sept. 3 against Louisiana, suited up but did not play.
Senior defensive end Sam McCaskill, a native of nearby Eugene, carried out The Hammer. ... Boise State wore white helmets, white jerseys and white pants. Oregon State wore orange helmets, black jerseys and black pants. ... The Broncos won the toss and elected to receive. ... The Beavers have lost 11 straight games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. ... Coming off a bye, Boise State is 24-4 since joining the FBS in 1996. ... Sophomore tight end Jake Knight had his first career reception, a 10-yard gain, on the Broncos’ first drive. ... Receiver Bubba Ogbebor made his debut in the first quarter, becoming the Broncos’ ninth true freshman to play in 2016.