It was not some grand epiphany.
Yes, Boise State needed to get better in the fourth quarter this season. A few wins in 2016 were closer than they should have been, and in two regular-season losses, stronger finishes easily could have meant victories.
“It’s not like last year, where we didn’t win the fourth-quarter battle, and now we’re sitting there like, ‘We should’ve emphasized the fourth quarter,’ ” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said Monday.
The Broncos were outscored 128-90 in the fourth quarter last year. Through eight games thus far, they hold an 81-45 edge, allowing just 17 points in their six wins. Harsin said during spring practices, “If we’re going to win a couple more games, we’ve got to find ways to finish.”
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“It’s really if guys buy into it, that’s the most important thing,” Harsin said. “We finish practice that way, we think about it ... I don’t know if it’s any special thing we’ve done, other than guys believing it. It’s amazing when that happens.”
In practices, the team has made its most intense periods the last ones, trying to install the “urgency” Harsin has mentioned multiple times lately.
But depth also has played a major factor, with the defense not getting worn down, and the offense able to hold onto the ball with an improved ability to run in recent weeks. A strong finish will be key Saturday to keeping a Nevada offense averaging 518 yards per game in its last three contests from making it interesting.
Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said playing better late wasn’t solved by finger-pointing but by offering positive solutions so players thought “one way and one way only.”
“A lot of times you get what you talk about and what you emphasize as coaches,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “... Whether it’s different situations in practice or meetings, getting that mindset of ‘when we get to that point in the game, we’re going to finish.’
“However it’s been working out, it’s been good.”
WHITNEY OUT FOR REST OF SEASON
Sophomore Sam Whitney will miss the rest of the season after tearing the patellar tendon in a knee, Harsin said. Whitney did not play Saturday at Utah State. He played in the first seven games, starting five and making 21 tackles with a sack and a forced fumble.
The Broncos’ other STUD ends in the rotation, Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier, have 39 tackles and 11 sacks combined.
Defensive tackle David Moa and defensive end Durrant Miles left the game with minor injuries, but Harsin said they are expected back this week. Same goes for guard Eric Quevedo on the offensive side. Avalos knows this is the time of year when depth is paramount.
“This is what we prepare for. ... It’s going to happen, but it’s going to get tested now,” Avalos said.
HARSIN’S HALLOWEEN HUNTING TIPS
With Halloween coming up Tuesday, Harsin was asked about some Halloween traditions. He doesn’t have a favorite candy, but he did have a favorite spot.
“Harrison Boulevard, along there, there’s the full-size candy bars: Baby Ruth, Snickers, Butterfinger,” Harsin said. “That’s the place to go. I didn’t even live over there and I trick-or-treated over there. I didn’t even take a sack, I took a pillowcase. I’d just go back and forth, sometimes twice. They realized it, like, ‘You’ve been here before.’ I was like, ‘No, I have not.’”
It’s not a big secret by any means. On Monday, ACHD said Harrison will be closed Tuesday night for trick-or-treaters.
Harsin said his staff members have been putting in early work this week so they can take their kids out, and he said there are plans for the team to have some fun, too. Last year, the team hosted kids from St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital, with some players getting into costume and kids going around the football facility getting treats.
Nevada at Boise State
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf); fans are asked to wear orange in sections 5, 7, 9, 11, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 125, 127, 129, 131, 133, 135 and North End Zone; blue in all other sections
TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick and Kirk Morrison)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 6-2, 4-0 (beat Utah State 41-14 last week); Nevada 1-7, 1-3 (lost to Air Force 45-42 on Oct. 20)
Series: Boise State leads 28-13 (Boise State won 51-46 in Reno on Oct. 4, 2014, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 22
Kickoff weather: Mid-40s, light rain