Boise State OC Zak Hill on Broncos' improving offense
There isn’t a ceremonial piece of wood the Boise State football team knocks on before each game.
Four-leaf clovers aren’t placed in cleats.
Salt isn’t thrown over shoulders.
But whether it’s luck or something else, the Broncos have been really, really good at avoiding backbreaking turnovers lately.
“We’ve done nothing different than we’ve done in the past,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “We emphasize ball security, we emphasize turnovers, no different than we did three years ago. ... I guess guys are buying into it and paying attention to it.”
Heading into Saturday’s game at Colorado State, Boise State is on quite a run during its five-game winning streak. The Broncos have not turned the ball over for the last 297 minutes, 56 seconds of game action (335 plays), dating to their first pass attempt Oct. 6 at BYU.
It has been at least 30 years since Boise State went four games without a turnover (our game-by-game records only date to 1988).
Only two other teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision — Tennessee and Boston College — have just one turnover since the start of October. The Broncos’ span of five weeks without a turnover is the longest active streak.
“It’s execution, just coming down to practicing what we preach,” sophomore running back Alexander Mattison said.
If there is no magical reason for it, one major factor is undoubtedly the guys up front.
An improved offensive line has opened holes for Mattison and company, and allowed the Broncos’ quarterbacks — Brett Rypien and Montell Cozart — time to find open passing windows.
“As an O-line ... if we can keep Brett safe, we know he’ll make things happen, same as Montell, and same with the running backs,” senior offensive tackle Archie Lewis said.
Boise State is on pace for one of the best seasons in recent history in terms of turnover stinginess. The Broncos’ eight allowed are tied for 12th-fewest in the FBS. In 2009, they had just 14 in 14 games.
“It’s huge,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “We’re putting ourselves in a position to win. We really harped on that in practice and in everything we do, and it’s shown up.”
Of course, it’s not all skill. Last Saturday against Nevada, Mattison had a fumble that went out of bounds. “I felt pretty lucky on that one,” he said.
The Broncos eventually scored a touchdown on the drive.
Two diverging turnover streaks will be tested in Fort Collins. Colorado State has grabbed one interception since Sept. 9, and has recovered three fumbles since.
Boise State also is the only team in the FBS to not have a turnover in a conference game. All others have at least two.
“I hope it continues and our guys stay focused on it,” Harsin said.
BSU basketball doubleheader
The 2017-18 regular season officially begins for the Boise State men’s and women’s teams with a doubleheader Friday at Taco Bell Arena.
The Bronco women will take on Northwest Christian (3-0) at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m. against Eastern Oregon (4-0).
Friday’s games are exhibitions for both NAIA programs but will count toward the Broncos’ records.
Fans who arrive at the women’s game before halftime can purchase a $6 ticket good for both games; single-game admission for the men’s game is $10 for adults.
The two Boise State programs have a strong relationship.
“For me, that’s been one of the neatest things about working at Boise State,” men’s coach Leon Rice said. “(Women’s coach) Gordy (Presnell) has been awesome to work with, and we bounce a lot off each other. I think he supports me, and we support them.”
Boise State at Colorado State
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: CSU Stadium (36,500, FieldTurf)
TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, David Diehl, Jenny Dell)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 7-2, 5-0 (beat Nevada 41-14 last week); Colorado State 6-4, 4-2 (lost to Wyoming 16-13)
Series: Boise State leads 6-0 (Broncos won 28-23 in Boise on Oct. 15, 2016, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 5 1/2
Kickoff weather: Mid-30s, clear