From the first play Saturday night, it was clear that the Boise State football team had left its gear-grinding offense at home.
The Broncos showed up in Logan, Utah, with the creative, multi-faceted attack that has been the program’s signature for nearly two decades — the latest step in the resurgence of an offense, and a team, that seemed headed for a miserable season when September ended.
That first play — a 32-yard strike from slumping quarterback Brett Rypien to mysteriously unproductive wide receiver A.J. Richardson — sparked the Broncos to a fast start on their way to a 41-14 victory.
They generated a season-high 533 yards, with Rypien and senior quarterback Montell Cozart combining for five touchdown passes. Rypien, who had two TD passes in the first seven games, had three in the first half against Utah State.
The wide receivers group, which had been Cedrick Wilson and little else all season, produced 17 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns — with Wilson accounting for six catches, 94 yards and a TD. True freshman Octavius Evans knocked a cornerback to his knees at the line of scrimmage to set up his touchdown catch and true freshman CT Thomas made a career-long reception of 24 yards.
Sophomore tailback Alexander Mattison, who admittedly was tentative early in the season, continued his breakout month with another 100-yard rushing performance. Perhaps more importantly, he contributed three catches for 28 yards and a TD (that hadn’t been his strength) and overcame a first-half leg injury to bust a 48-yard run in the second half.
Rypien, whose status as the starter had been questioned by many folks outside the Bleymaier Football Center, looked like the All-Mountain West quarterback he was the past two years. And still, the Broncos found new ways to use Cozart — another feel-good night for a two-quarterback system that works so rarely in college football.
And all of it was made possible by an offensive line that has been growing by leaps and bounds this month.
Add it all up and you have an offense that is improving and developing into more than just a ball-protecting complement to the defense and special teams that have carried the Broncos most of the season. (That said, the group didn’t commit a turnover, either.)
In fact, the Broncos’ offense topped 30 points in regulation (and eventually 40) — snapping a once-incomprehensible, nine-game drought without 30 points. The momentum should continue next week when Nevada and its anemic defense visit Albertsons Stadium, where the Broncos still must prove they can dominate.
The Broncos are 4-0 in the Mountain West (6-2 overall) — the only team unbeaten in conference play — with critical November games coming against Colorado State, division nemesis Air Force and West Division leader Fresno State.
This isn’t a complete team yet — but the Broncos are far closer to that mark than they’ve been all season. And they’re getting better every week.
Michele Wadsworth-Alidjani: GREAT plays on both Offense a s Defense. Now we focus one game at a time and prep and be ready for Saturday on the Blue. GREAT Win tonight!