There is no need to remind Boise State football players of the lowest points of last season.
They see them every day.
Back-to-back losses at Albertsons Stadium to New Mexico and Air Force last November wrapped up the Broncos’ home schedule, the first consecutive home defeats since 1997.
“We’ve dropped the last two, so we need to get back on the right track,” senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo said. “Every time you go out there and run in the summer and the spring, you just remember we’re 0-2 in our last two games on The Blue.”
Boise State opens its 2016 home slate at 8:15 p.m. Saturday against Washington State, the only school the Broncos have played four times and never defeated. The Cougars, coming off a season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, are preparing for a fired-up Boise State, just as the Broncos think their foe will be even more challenging come off a loss.
“I’m not sure how the whole turf thing will go, but we’re excited to play there,” Washington State quarterback Luke Falk said. “It’s a tough place to play, they’re a good team, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Ah, yes, “the whole turf thing.” The Cougars have not played in Boise since 2001, so for everyone involved, it will be the first time. Naturally, coach Mike Leach had a quip prepared when asked about it.
“I’m glad I don’t have to watch film on it every day, to be honest with you,” Leach said. “I think the animal (rights) watch groups and whatnot need to make sure they keep that covered so ducks don’t break their necks trying to land on it.”
For the players, going on the road won’t be a daunting task. The Cougars won at Rutgers, Oregon, UCLA and Arizona last season. In fact, for junior running back Jamal Morrow, playing in Boise is something he wanted to do growing up.
“Being able to play on the blue turf, that’s pretty exciting,” Morrow said. “As a little kid, you always watch them, and it’s like, ‘I’m going to play on the blue turf.’ Finally being able to play on that’s going to be pretty cool.”
Of course, the Broncos don’t want it to be a great experience for the Cougars. They have not lost a nonconference regular-season home game since ... 2001, against Washington State. It will no doubt be a charged environment Saturday, with the Broncos looking for another win against a Power 5 school and trying to snap the home skid. Not that Leach is concerned if it will be a hostile environment.
“Compared to what? There’s a point to where it’s just noise, except at Stanford, it’s quiet,” Leach said. “I mean, I don’t think I’m going to get shot or anything.”
Whether the hopefully pacifist crowd has a big effect or not, the Broncos said Monday they were more than happy to be back home with the opportunity to get back to their winning ways at Albertsons Stadium.
“We definitely know that we’re on a two-game losing streak on The Blue, and that hits deep, especially around here,” sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien said. “We want to end that, for sure.”
COUGARS GET BACK KEY DEFENDER
Leach said Monday he expects safety Shalom Luani to play Saturday against the Broncos. Luani was arrested Aug. 24 and charged with felony assault after allegedly broke a student’s nose in a fight at a Domino’s Pizza. He did not play against Eastern Washington.
“The facts that I know, it’s not near what’s been publicized, and I’m very disappointed that the court of public opinion has been tainted and contaminated the fashion it has,” Leach said.
Luani, a senior safety, had 90 tackles and a team-high four interceptions last season. He played soccer on American Samoa’s national team, scoring two goals in the team’s first-ever FIFA-sanctioned win in 2011.
Washington St. (0-1) at Boise St. (1-0)
- When: 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday
- Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
- TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)
- Radio: KBOI (670 AM)/KTIK (93.1 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
- Series: Washington State leads 4-0 (won 41-20 in 2001 in Boise last meeting)
- Vegas line: Boise State by 11