Following Boise State’s 42-23 loss to Virginia on Sept. 22, coach Bryan Harsin said “there’s going to be changes.” What they would be, he didn’t know immediately after the game.
Changes in coaching responsibilities? New starters? New wrinkles in the playbook? The possibilities were many.
But on Monday, Harsin scaled those expectations back a bit when asked 10 days later what will be changed.
“There’s things that are changing, there are obviously things that have to change,” Harsin said. “... We’ve changed a few things in practice, we’ve changed a few things in personnel.
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“Really, tweaks. There’s not massive overhauls in a lot of things right now.”
So for those hoping for some major differences when Boise State (2-2) travels to BYU (1-4) for an 8:15 p.m. Friday kick on ESPN, you’ll have to wait. The Broncos feel, especially on offense, that they’re close.
After rushing for 147 yards Sept. 2 against Troy, Boise State has rushed for 321 yards in the three games since. The offense, thanks to short fields, is scoring 29.8 points per game (68th nationally) but ranks 100th with 351.3 yards per game.
The Broncos’ running backs have struggled at times to find open holes, the offensive line has yielded 13 sacks and the team dropped nine passes against Virginia. Those “tweaks” need to happen all across the offense, even if big changes are not currently in store.
“Get that momentum, feel a little flow in a game,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “There’s been some things that’ve taken us out of drives. It’s the execution piece that needs to be focused on the most.”
Having extra time to work on fixing mistakes and to see what new twists may work could be beneficial for Boise State come Friday.
“(We’ve been) working on some different things, trying some new things. ... You want to do that (on a bye),” Harsin said.
Even though Boise State has yet to unleash much of its renowned trickery, it is one of 32 teams in the FBS with five passing plays of 40 yards or more. The Cougars are expecting to see both.
“We need to be ready for the long bombs that they throw,” BYU defensive lineman Sione Takitaki said. “Boise State is known for their trick plays. We need to be ready for it all, so we’re preparing.”
YOUNG SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY
Following an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence early Sept. 24, Boise State junior cornerback Michael Young has been suspended indefinitely from team activities, Harsin said.
Young’s blood alcohol content was .142/.138 in a field test. The legal limit in Idaho is .08.
“As far as Mike, right now, he’s not with us with any team activities,” Harsin said. “... We’re handling all that stuff internally.”
Young joined the team in January as a transfer from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College. He has played in the Broncos’ last three games as a backup cornerback, making four tackles. He was held out of the season opener Sept. 2 despite being healthy.
With Young out, he is no longer on the team’s depth chart. Redshirt freshmen Avery Williams and Jalen Walker are listed as backups behind starters Tyler Horton and Reid Harrison-Ducros. Walker has yet to make a tackle, while Williams saw his most extensive action on defense against Virginia, making a pair of tackles.
SEEKING TO END THE PATTERN
Since Boise State and BYU began the current 12-year series in 2012, success has followed the same pattern — the home team has won every time. The Broncos lost to the Cougars in 2013 and 2015 in Provo.
In the five meetings between the two, the scoring margin is just one point. BYU is 2-3 but has a 135-134 scoring edge. Harsin said “the energy is always good, whether it’s here or there.”
“... When they come out and play in our stadium, it’ll be exciting. I feel good about our matchup with them,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.
Boise State at BYU
When: 8:15 p.m. Friday
Where: Lavell Edwards Stadium (63,470, grass), Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN (Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 2-2 (lost to Virginia 42-23); BYU 1-4 (lost to Utah State 40-24)
Series: Boise State leads 5-2 (beat Cougars 28-27 in Boise in 2016)
Vegas line: Boise State by 7 1/2
Kickoff weather: Low 50s, clear