Wyoming is going to focus on stopping Boise State junior running back Jeremy McNichols, as any wise team would. But that’s the Cowboys’ primary gameplan each week, sometimes at the expense of its pass defense.
“That’s their philosophy; that’s their style of football. It’s been successful for them. I don’t think they’re really worried about the passing yards, it’s winning football games, and stopping the run is going to do that,” Boise State co-offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.
The Cowboys are allowing 299.4 yards per game through the air; only five FBS teams allow more. But they also have intercepted 11 passes (tied for eighth-most nationally) and are 80th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Boise State sophomore Brett Rypien, after throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns last week against BYU, must make good decisions. If he does, it could mean some big plays.
“They’re a very, very disciplined unit. They don’t really do a whole lot of different thing as far as coverages go, but they make everything look exactly the same, which makes it very tough on a quarterback,” Rypien said.
Rypien has 20 pass plays of 30 yards or more through seven games. Last season, he had 21 such plays in 11 games. When the Broncos faced a defense that was willing to take some chances and stack the box against McNichols, Rypien threw for 391 yards and five touchdowns Oct. 7 at New Mexico. His deep passing prowess was a point of emphasis in the offseason.
“That is one area that (we’ve) emphasized that has improved. He’s put a lot of work into that, too,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “Brett’s mechanically better than he was last year. Coach (Zak) Hill has done a great job. ... Brett throws pretty much all the throws you want a quarterback to make.”