The Boise State football team’s backups got their first extended playing time of the season Saturday at Wyoming — and coaches didn’t like what they saw.
“There is a future for this football team and those guys who are playing (as backups) are the future,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “When they get opportunities to play, they need to play well. We’re going to really challenge those guys. They need to be better.”
The Broncos pulled the starters with a 56-7 lead with 4 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Finley, who led two touchdown drives against Air Force, ran the offense for five drives. The first ended with a fumble by sophomore tailback Devan Demas on the third play. The second, which featured a 23-yard sack, was a three-and-out. The third was an 85-yard touchdown drive after the Broncos recovered their own fumble on the first play. The fourth, which included another fumble recovered by the Broncos, was a three-and-out. The fifth was a four-and-out.
Never miss a local story.
The touchdown drive was entirely on the ground. Sophomore tailback Charles Bertoli and junior tailback Jack Fields ripped off 10-yard runs, Finley ran for 38 and Demas scored from 21 yards out.
“Decent stuff up front. The backs ran hard,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. “We can’t have turnovers. We can’t take 20-yard sacks. And on that sack play, we had a missed assignment on the route that would have been the primary read. Unfortunately, we didn’t execute like we wanted to with that group. That was a big challenge (Sunday) in meetings: ‘These reps you get are so dang important to your future going into spring practice, this offseason. You’ve got to make those reps count.’ And at times, we did. But I expect better.”
Defensively, the Broncos did not allow a drive longer than 20 yards. They did allow a touchdown on a six-play, 20-yard drive after a turnover.
The final was 63-14, so the backups played to a 7-7 tie.
Utah State senior linebacker Zach Vigil leads the Mountain West with 133 tackles this season, an average of 11.1 per game. He also is tied for third in sacks (8.0).
His tackle total is usually seen on bad defenses that are on the field a ton and have a couple of standout players.
But Vigil has done that on a defense ranked third in the Mountain West in total defense (351 yards per game), first in rushing defense (116.5 ypg) and first in scoring defense (18.3 points per game).
“There’s no celebrations about me,” Harsin said. “The guy lays out (a ball carrier), gets back up, runs back to where he needs to go and figures out what the next call is. He plays a very physical position and he plays it the right way. I’ve been very impressed with him. I’ve seen a lot of linebackers in this league and he is at the top.”
The Broncos attended “Dumb and Dumber To” on Friday night before their final team meeting. About half the team liked the movie, Harsin said.
“The thing I really liked was, we watched this funny movie, quirky movie. Everybody had their opinions on it. Coach (Steve) Caldwell was not a fan,” Harsin said. “He said, ‘I had to sit there through that?’ When we came back for the team meeting, guys were locked in. That’s probably one of the most focused meetings we had that night. I just felt like at that point that the guys were ready. They came out and showed it in the game.”
Harsin said the movie was chosen because it was the shortest option.
Harsin will run Senior Day intros slightly different. The seniors will be introduced and welcomed onto the field by their families, but they will return to the locker room and run onto the field with their teammates like a normal game.
“They get their moment to be recognized,” Harsin said. “Once they’re done, it’s back to business as usual.”
Almost every week, Sanford has a connection to the opposing coaching staff through his dad, who is the head coach at Indiana State. Last week, he talked to his dad about the challenge of facing Wyoming coach Craig Bohl, formerly of North Dakota State. This week, he’s facing one of his dad’s former teams. The elder Sanford was the assistant head coach at Utah State in 2012.
“It’s really fun for me,” Sanford said. “As a coach’s kid, I’ve always grown up around it. I tried to make the most of the opportunities to get to know coaches and pick their brains.”
Boise State sophomore defensive end Kamalei Correa registered three sacks last week at Wyoming and narrowly missed a fourth.
That came a week after Caldwell, the defensive line coach, said Correa did not play well against San Diego State and suggested that maybe the Hawaiian didn’t like the cold.
“He came to me last week and told me he didn’t play well and he told me he owed me two games,” said defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, who added that Correa was including one other disappointing showing in the deal. “That was one. So he still owes me another one.”
The big game gave Correa the Mountain West lead with 8.5 sacks this season. He’s fourth with 13.5 tackles for loss.
Those numbers place him in impressive company. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, an NFL second-round draft pick, contributed 10.5 sacks and 20.5 TFLs last season and 9.5/13.5 in 2012. Defensive end Shea McClellin, a first-round pick, racked up 7.0/12.5 in 2011 and 9.5/13.5 in 2010. Defensive end Tyrone Crawford, a third-round pick, added 6.5/13.5 in 2011 and 7.0/13.5 in 2010.
Utah State at Boise State
When: 8:21 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
TV: ESPN2 (Mike Couzens, David Diaz-Infante, Shelley Smith). Channel 209 on DirecTV, 144 on Dish, 25 and 492 (HD) on Cable One.
Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
Records: Boise State is 9-2 overall, 6-1 Mountain West; Utah State is 9-3, 6-1
Series: Boise State leads 14-4 (Boise State won 34-23 last year in Logan)
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.