Down one of its most important defenders and the guy who touches the ball every offensive play, Boise State had to make some important adjustments before Saturday’s game.
Senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo sat out with an undisclosed injury, as did junior center Mason Hampton. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said both will likely be back next week at New Mexico.
Vallejo came into the game tied for the team lead with 27 tackles despite not playing the second half last Saturday at Oregon State. Junior Blake Whitlock made his first career start in Vallejo’s place, making four tackles (one for loss) and breaking up a pass.
“Tanner’s a lion, and you’ve got to go out there and fill his role, and I though (Whitlock) did a pretty good job with that,” Harsin said.
Hampton, who moved into a starting role this season, was replaced by senior guard Steven Baggett. Senior right tackle Mario Yakoo moved to guard to replace Baggett, and redshirt freshman John Molchon earned his first start in Yakoo’s place.
The Broncos allowed one sack and paved the way for junior running back Jeremy McNichols’ 10th 100-yard game in his career, all coming in his past 12 games.
“They did a great job tonight,” Boise State sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien said. “... all game, those guys did a great job with Mason being out, Steve having move to center, Mario moving to guard, John Molchon getting his first start at tackle.”
Utah State also missed two important pieces due to injuries: running back Devante Mays (team-high 234 yards on 27 carries) and safety Dallin Leavitt (29 tackles, two interceptions). Aggies running backs had 13 carries for 24 yards.
PAIR OF TARGETING CALLS RESULT IN EJECTIONS
Two targeting penalties, one against each team, took key defenders out of the game. Boise State senior cornerback Jonathan Moxey was ejected with 1:19 to play after getting flagged for a hit on Aggie running back Tonny Lindsey, while Utah State linebacker Anthony Williams was ejected with 33 seconds left in the third quarter after hitting Boise State punt returner Akilian Butler high before the ball arrived. Both must sit out the first half of the teams’ next game, barring an appeal. Harsin usually said the team sends in two or three plays to be looked at each week.
“I don’t have the answer to that,” Harsin said. “What I saw on the play was two guys going for the ball ... we’ll look at the film, we’ll go back and we’ll figure out what the next step is.”
WILSON THROWS, GRABS FOR SCORES
Junior receiver Cedrick Wilson had a 61-yard pass to McNichols for a touchdown in the first quarter and also hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Rypien in the fourth quarter. Wilson, who played quarterback in high school in Memphis, Tenn., and was recruited to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College to play the position, also had a 23-yard completion at Oregon State in his other pass attempt this season.
“He’s got an unbelievable arm,” Rypien said. “... the guy can throw, like, 70 yards. He’s a freak in all aspects.”
Wilson also had a 10-yard reception in addition to the touchdown catch.
“It’s pretty fun to get a chance to throw the ball again, because I haven’t done it in a while,” Wilson said. “I’ve just got to work on throwing it a little bit better, because everyone was getting on me for the ball being wobbly.”
ANOTHER WHALE OF A GAME FOR WALE
Named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday, Boise State senior punter Sean Wale continued to perform well. Wale punted seven times for an average of 43.7 yards per attempt, putting four inside the 20-yard line. He averted disaster when he jumped to grab a high snap with 5 minutes left in the third quarter and quickly got off a 49-yard boot that put Utah State at its own 12.
Boise State wore blue helmets, blue jerseys and blue pants. Some players wore pink sleeves and pink gloves in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The students’ section also wore pink. Utah State wore blue helmets, gray jerseys and blue pants. ... Boise State won the coin toss and elected to receive. ... Boise State attempted a fake punt in the first quarter in which linebacker Ben Weaver passed to tight end Alec Dhaenens, but the Broncos only gained 6 of the 8 yards needed for the first down. ... Boise State has not yet trailed in a game this season, one of just two teams in the nation not to do so. Miami (Fla.) is the other.