Boise State DC Andy Avalos on facing Utah State
It’s not just at Boise State where two quarterbacks are used as part of an offensive game plan. In fact, the team the Broncos face Saturday likely will do the same.
Utah State has used both redshirt freshman Jordan Love and senior Kent Myers in the last seven games.
Though it hasn’t been like Boise State’s system, where Montell Cozart and Brett Rypien can rotate at just about any given moment, it adds another twist for the Broncos’ defense.
“They both do a really good job. It’ll be a fun challenge to attack,” Boise State defensive end Durrant Miles said. “It’s interesting that teams have to prepare for us the same way.”
Both quarterbacks provide some mobility. Myers is fourth in school history with 7,428 total yards and helped lead the Aggies to a win over Boise State in Logan in 2015, but he’s 5-18 when playing a majority of the snaps against FBS teams since. He’s rushed for 259 yards and five touchdowns and has thrown for 1,206 yards this season.
Love (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) earned a few series each game until he and Myers played almost equally Oct. 14 against Wyoming, a game in which Love had three interceptions. But the youngster shined in his first career start last Saturday at UNLV.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native was 19-of-27 passing for 316 yards with two touchdowns, plus he ran for 42 yards and another score in a 52-28 win. He was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.
“It felt great getting that first start,” Love said. “For us, it’s whoever is giving the offense the best look, and right now it’s me. But that could change any day. Kent is a better runner than I am, and getting him in there gives the defense more to prepare for.”
Utah State trailed 14-0 against the Rebels, top receiver Ron’quavion Tarver was knocked out of the game early and the defense allowed 375 rushing yards. But Love showed poise.
“It could be easy to go in the tank and he did not,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said.
As Boise State has learned, it isn’t always easy to get into a groove with two quarterbacks. Though the Broncos seem to have found a middle ground, the Aggies were happy to seemingly settle on Love. Myers played one series against the Rebels. Wells said Monday he isn’t sure how he’ll use the pair Saturday.
“Jordan played absolutely phenomenal,” Utah State center Quin Ficklin said. “... In the game, it was nice to have someone and to stick with it.”
Miles said what impressed him with Love was his vision when running the zone read, seeing where the pressure was coming from and deciding whether to hand off, run it himself or even use a passing option. The Aggies rushed for 265 yards at UNLV, while Love connected on 70- and 75-yard touchdown passes.
“He’s athletic, he does a good job in the pass game, too,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “They do a good job designing pass plays that complement run plays. ... We’ve got to do a better job playing on the edges than we did last week.”
The challenge going from UNLV’s defense to Boise State’s is a big step up for Love and the Aggies. But if his first start was any indication of what he could accomplish, the Broncos are in for a test at Maverik Stadium.
“Having a game like that in my first start gave me a lot of confidence, but I have to prepare like I did every other game,” Love said. “It was pretty cool getting player of the week, but now I’ve got to prove it.”
Boise State at Utah State
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Maverik Stadium (25,100; AstroTurf synthetic grass)
TV: CBS Sports Network (Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jenny Dell)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 5-2, 3-0 (beat Wyoming 24-14 last week); Utah State 4-4, 2-2 (beat UNLV 52-28)
Series: Boise State leads 16-5 (Boise State won 21-10 on Oct. 1, 2016, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 8
Kickoff weather: Upper 40s, clear
Utah State at a glance
Location: Logan, Utah
Head coach: Matt Wells (32-29, fifth season)
This year: 4-4 overall, 2-2 Mountain West; won 52-28 at UNLV on Saturday
On Saturday, the Aggies likely will start only one offensive player who was a starter in 2016. The offense has played well the last five weeks, averaging 35.2 points per game (not including two defensive TDs). The Aggies are No. 63 in total offense (400.9 yards per game). Running back LaJuan Hunt leads with 404 yards and is coming off a season-high 104 yards. The line has allowed 24 sacks.
The defense has been opportunistic, creating 20 turnovers, tied for second-most in the FBS. The Aggies are 33rd against the pass, 103rd against the run (204 ypg) and 87th in scoring defense (29.4 ppg). Five defensive backs made at least four starts last season. Junior linebacker Suli Tamaivena leads the team with 78 tackles and three sacks. On special teams, USU leads the nation with four blocked punts.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jalen Davis, CB: The 5-foot-10, 185-pound San Diego native has done what every defensive back dreams of — three times this season. Davis is tied for the FBS lead with five interceptions, and has run back three for touchdowns. The FBS record for a season is four. A senior, Davis has 21 tackles, including three sacks, with six pass breakups and a forced fumble.
“It’s kind of a little joke in our room, you’re happy when it happens, but then we’re like ‘it’s my turn now,’ ” said senior safety Dallin Leavitt, who has three interceptions. “I’ve got to catch up. He’s changed a lot of games for us. That’s been huge.”