Even if it amassed only 300 yards, the Boise State football team’s offense took a step forward in Friday’s win over BYU.
An improved rushing attack was a big piece, but the key was a reduction in self-inflicted wounds.
The Broncos struggled in their 42-23 loss to Virginia on Sept. 22, but the 24-7 victory over the Cougars saw far fewer miscues.
“It’s amazing for our football team, when we play hard and we play physical, we don’t have many mistakes,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “Offensively, we call them critical errors, we had about 14 (against Virginia). We had six in the last game. We eliminated a lot of those little things that come up that you can control.”
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So, what are “critical errors”?
Harsin said they are “anything that really affects our offense that we can control,” including penalties, dropped passes, sacks and negative plays. BYU didn’t get a sack and had only two tackles for loss. Boise State had just one penalty, a false start, but it overcame it on the way to its first touchdown of the game.
Boise State also went into the game with the intent of making errors less likely. The Broncos ran the ball 47 times while throwing it just 20, and turned it over just once.
“We tried to keep the game plan a little easier, from a functional standpoint where there’s not as much thinking so they can go out and play fast and play physical,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “It takes some pressure off the quarterback position as well. ... Therefore leads to a lot less critical situations.”
The focus on the basics has always existed, but they were put into focus during the bye week before preparing for BYU.
“Paying attention to the little things that add up to big things, that was another big emphasis the last two weeks,” junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said afterward. “... Being on time. Waking up, feet hit the ground, you’re ready to roll. There’s no easing into it.”
Harsin said that if the team can control small things, such as showing up to meetings or workouts on time, being positive and taking good notes, that effort can translate onto the field.
“Everything matters,” Harsin said. “One minute late is late. It’s not an epidemic or anything like that. It’s the mindset of are you doing everything you can.”
In a loss, Harsin said, “those things become really big,” showing a lack of urgency, and a win can sometimes allow teams to relax a bit. His aim is to be consistent, win or lose.
The Broncos travel to No. 19 San Diego State on Saturday, a team that is 27-3 in its past 30 games. Not making mistakes and controlling the ball are major parts of the Aztecs’ success.
“It’s a really good opportunity for us. They’re really good at what they do. ... If we can continue to keep playing like we did in the last game, we’ll put ourselves in position to play our best football, which we need to,” Harsin said.
Larson may get start again
Sophomore Garrett Larson got the start at center with senior Mason Hampton out with a lower right leg injury. The Fruitland High graduate “was the best option,” Harsin said, and he did well.
Harsin didn’t say for certain whether Larson would start again, but as of now, the approach is that he will unless Hampton can prove he’s healthy.
Hoyte raises more than $7,000
Former Boise State defensive lineman Elliot Hoyte’s “Fill The Stands” GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy tickets for fans that might not be able to afford them raised $7,560. It was enough to get 280 tickets for the Oct. 21 game against Wyoming. He said his employer, Lyle Pearson, pitched in enough to make the total 300 tickets. Boise State said it would match the 300 for Nov. 4’s game against Nevada.
On Monday, Harsin called Hoyte “a rock star” for his efforts.
Welcome back, late kicks
The Broncos’ next home game, against Wyoming, will kick off at 8:15 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium, the school announced Monday. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Last season, the Cowboys beat the Broncos in Laramie. The Cowboys are 3-2 this season and play at Utah State on Saturday.
Boise State’s September home games kicked off at 1:45 p.m and 6 p.m. (two). All six home games last season began at 8 p.m. or later, and the Broncos likely will wind up having a seven-game stretch of late kickoffs until the afternoon finale at Fresno State.
Boise State at No. 19 San Diego State
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: SDCCU Stadium (54,000, grass), San Diego
TV: CBS Sports Network (Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jenny Dell)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 3-2, 1-0 (beat BYU 24-7); San Diego State 6-0, 2-0 (beat UNLV 41-10)
Series: Tied 2-2 (Boise State won 38-29 on Nov. 15, 2014, in last meeting)
Vegas line: San Diego State by 7
Kickoff weather: High 70s, clear