“It’s a sickening feeling.”
That’s how senior defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte described what transpired Oct. 16, 2015, when Boise State lost at Utah State 52-26. On Saturday, the Broncos get another shot at the Aggies, this time in Albertsons Stadium.
For the most part, game week has been business as usual.
Running backs coach Lee Marks said, “We’ve been preparing for them just like every team.”
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“It’s just one game at a time,” senior guard Travis Averill said before adding a twist.
“Now that it’s come up, there’s nothing you can do but think of last year’s game.”
It was a game to forget, but then again, how could it be forgotten? When you get a chance to exact revenge against the team that forced you into eight turnovers, it can trudge up unpleasant memories.
Or provide extra motivation.
“Some weeks are easier than others,” defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.
Leave it to the staff’s elder statesman, defensive line coach Steve Caldwell, who began his coaching career before head coach Bryan Harsin turned 2 years old, to put it in perspective.
This is not your typical Mountain West opener.
“I’m not going to let a day go by that they don’t know what happened to us last year. It’s not a thing in the past,” Caldwell said. “We have to step up and play a lot better up front than we did last year. What they were able to do against us ... was really embarrassing.”
For the Broncos, it means balancing a desire to get payback along with focusing on the task at hand, not letting the emotions be too much of a factor, though Caldwell said, “I don’t know that you can ever be too fired up.”
“You definitely think about it during the week, not in the game that much,” Hoyte said. “In order to be successful, you have to buy into the gameplan. ... You have to be motivated by what’s in the past.”
Harsin and Utah State coach Matt Wells both said this week that last year’s game could play a small factor this year. They also stressed repeatedly that so much has changed.
The Broncos didn’t have running back Jeremy McNichols last year, and they have new coordinators this season. The Aggies lost a pair of linebackers in Kyler Fackrell and Zach Vigil, both now in the NFL, who combined for 25 tackles (five for losses), two sacks and three fumble recoveries against the Broncos.
“The freshmen that come here are like, ‘We won three Fiesta Bowls.’ No you didn’t. They did, those teams prior to you did,” Harsin said. “What are we going to do now? It’s really more of that mindset. That was last year’s team, different group of players, different coaches in there as well.”
Wells, who called last year “maybe the greatest win in this program’s history,” said Boise State’s home losses to New Mexico and Air Force last year are motivating his players this season.
“That should give them confidence to know that it has happened before, but it comes down to this week and it comes down to our preparation and the things that we do this week and how we’re going to execute and play on Saturday,” Wells said.
All the feelings, the motivations, perhaps the additional focus, will be a common theme over the next nine weeks. This is the first stop on Boise State four-part Revenge Tour, including next Friday at New Mexico and Oct. 20 against BYU.
“I think it’s a huge stretch, and that’s something we’ve been trying to motivate them with,” Caldwell said.
Like the Broncos need additional motivation. Make no doubt about it, Saturday is an extremely important game for the Broncos.
“We have a point to prove this week,” Hoyte said. “It’s time to set it straight.”