A football schedule is never perfect, but near the bottom of the wish list is having a bye week in the middle of September.
That’s where Boise State finds itself after opening the season with wins at Louisiana and at home against Washington State. The Broncos are back on the field Sept. 24 at Oregon State (1:30 p.m. MT, FS1), which kicks off a stretch of 10 games in 10 weeks to end the regular season.
“At first, I wasn’t a fan of it,” junior running back Jeremy McNichols said. “Having those two games early on, getting used to it again, it really helped us so now we know what to expect these last however many games we’re going to play.”
Said senior defensive end Sam McCaskill: “It’s weird ... you just get antsy, you get a little taste of getting to play those first two games, then they make you wait for a week.”
The team’s schedule this week has been similar to any other with their normal Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday practices, minus the fact players and coaches get to watch games Saturday. A primary focus has been on the Broncos themselves, with a little time spent on the Beavers, who had their bye last week.
“We’re really treating it like the first couple days of fall camp, going back and doing a lot of individual stuff, kind of perfecting our craft and reworking through the mistakes we made the last couple games,” McCaskill said.
Last season, the Broncos’ bye came in the first week of November after their ninth game, and with the vagaries of the schedule, had two in 2014, after their sixth and eighth games.
What’s helping this time is two very different games under their belts, a 45-10 road rout and a 31-28 home win that saw Washington State intercept three passes and nearly erase a 17-point deficit in the last 12 minutes.
McNichols said a close game before the bye helped “to test where we are mentally and physically.”
“It was something different for us ... having it the first three weeks, I think it’s actually helping us more, helping us find more who we are,” senior kicker Tyler Rausa said.
Though coach Bryan Harsin said “I wish I decided the bye weeks,” preferring a later one, he tried to look on the bright side after Saturday’s win, noting some players like junior tight end Jake Roh and junior linebacker Joe Martarano, nursing injuries, have another week of rest. He also said the coaches will look at figuring out what the team’s strengths are while fixing what has been sub-par.
“After two games, you get a better idea of ‘who are we?’ You’ve got to figure out who you are in the first three games,” Harsin said.
Said McNichols: “It’d be nice to have it later on, but it’s fine right now.’’
BEAVERS & BENGALS
Boise State’s next opponent hosts another Gem State team Saturday, the Idaho State Bengals (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). Coming off a 56-7 loss at Colorado, Idaho State (1-1) takes on another Pac-12 foe in Oregon State (0-1), which lost 30-23 at Minnesota on Sept. 1.