PROVO, Utah — It's Week 2 of our new feature: BSU Takes.
After each game, I post my top takeaways. During the game, I solicit takeaways from fans on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll run a select few — and a shorter version of my story — in the newspaper. But the full version will always be in the Bronco Beat blog with many contributions from fans.
BYU rallied to beat Boise State 35-24 on Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium. You can find our comprehensive, multimedia coverage of the game here and Dave Southorn's traditional game story here.
1. That was one of the sloppiest Boise State performances I've ever seen: The Broncos committed 11 turnovers; threw three ugly interceptions; allowed touchdowns on third-and-19, second-and-20 and fourth-and-7; frequently lost track of receivers in the scramble drill; and generated just three points off of five consecutive drives that reached BYU territory in the first half. BYU never should have been in position to hit a Hail Mary-like touchdown pass to win the game.
"We’re going to move forward from this and get better from this and learn and take constructive criticism and open our hearts up to getting better," senior cornerback Donte Deayon said. "... We’ve just got to stay together and look ourselves in the mirror."
2. It's time to see another quarterback: That doesn't mean bench sophomore Ryan Finley, despite his four interceptions and six sacks in two starts. But it does mean the Broncos need to find out what other options they have. Finley is the only quarterback on the team who has played in a game. True freshman Brett Rypien was the first to take a snap with the second team in warm-ups Saturday night but sophomore Tommy Stuart took a turn, too. Idaho State is the perfect opponent to give one of them a drive or two — perhaps the start of the second quarter — to see how they fare.
"I really don't have an opinion on the QB battle right now," coach Bryan Harsin said.
Finley holds a 112.63 rating — a number that would have ranked 94th nationally last season. He made more big plays against BYU (25-for-38 for 297 yards) than in his debut, but he also made more big mistakes. His first interception, into double coverage, spoiled the momentum created by a 43-yard pass on the previous play. His second interception, into double coverage, set up a 12-yard touchdown drive for the Cougars. And his third, on the first play of the Broncos' last-gasp drive, was returned for a touchdown.
"The key question is the turnover battle, and you've got to find a way to win it if you're going to win football games," Harsin said.
3. That experienced offensive line isn't getting the job done: The Broncos returned all five starters from last year's line and an experienced reserve in Archie Lewis, who has started the first two games at right tackle.
In the past six quarters, the Broncos have rushed 52 times for 97 yards (1.87 yards per carry). That includes six sacks. In addition, the group committed four false starts against BYU. Lewis, in particular, appeared vulnerable to the BYU pass rush.
"I don't want to sit here and point fingers at our team, that we did everything wrong," Harsin said. "I also think BYU is a good football team. They brought pressure. They got edges. We've got to give them credit as well."
4. The wide receiver situation is confounding: Senior Shane Williams-Rhodes had two catches in the previous three games, almost vanishing from the offense. On Saturday, he made 11 catches for 107 yards, including some difficult grabs in traffic — the type of throws that are supposed to be more difficult to a smaller target. Why hasn’t he been getting the ball consistently?
Junior Thomas Sperbeck, meanwhile, has become invisible. The Fiesta Bowl offensive MVP has five catches for 41 yards this season with at least a couple drops. He was the target on two of Finley's interceptions against BYU. Where's the guy who torched defenses last season?
And then there's Rick Smith, who didn't even make the trip to Provo. When will the Arizona State transfer be allowed to play?
AND NOW FOR READERS' TAKES...
Nicolas Wendlowsky: I feel like the Nebraska game ending TD from last week should have been part of BSU's film study this past week.
Brian Walsh: So many mistakes.
William Taylor: My cat tackles better than the Boise State defense. Can anyone say Vegas or Aloha for our Bowl game this year. BSU won't be going to the Fiesta Bowl unless something strange happens.
Dennis Stewart: Offense is stagnant. QB change and better play calling.
Carl Lloyd Russell: Finley: better but still too risky on long balls.
Gabriel Felipe Zamora: The offense just has to get better. The penalties tonight were out of hand. The defense started giving up the run. The defense was tired from all the 3 and outs from the offense.
Chad Scott: No discipline. Again O-line you are terrible. I cannot iterate enough that the O-line is awful especially for a veteran crew. Everyone else made improvements...Finley needs to get better but I think we will be fine in conference play.
Dave McAlindin: They don't have the same level of intensity and focus they've had in the past.
Josh Waters: Finley needs to learn how to read the safeties. They are killing him.
Cody Riddle: BSU lost to a team missing their starting QB, nose tackle, and running back. BSU was returning 17 starters. If you cant beat BYU with these factors, it is hard to believe you beat them in the future.
Jon Wroten: Two games in and the other team wouldn't have scored in either game had it not been for our stupid mistakes. Finley has a long way to go before I will have any level of confidence in him.
Broncos need to figure out how to remain composed through the entire 60 minutes. #BSUtake— Tami Jones (@TamiBoise) September 13, 2015
Dirty, scrappy, chippy game. #BSUTake— Natey (@knatradio) September 13, 2015