Boise State Football

Boise State vs. Colorado State: Who gets the edge, players to watch in key division game

Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch discusses balanced Colorado State

Boise State junior LB Leighton Vander Esch talks about facing Colorado State and the Broncos' five-game winning streak.
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Boise State junior LB Leighton Vander Esch talks about facing Colorado State and the Broncos' five-game winning streak.

WHO GETS THE EDGE?

When the Broncos run the ball ...

Even as teams have focused on slowing down the rushing attack, the Broncos have gained at least 140 yards on the ground during each of their five consecutive wins. They’ve had at least 34 rushing attempts in each of those games, showing a commitment to starting with the run.

The Rams have been decent against the run when facing traditional offenses, allowing 127.6 yards per game against them but 365.5 against option-based New Mexico and Air Force. Colorado State’s 4.75 yards per carry allowed is 99th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I see a physical defense ... they come out and they hit it hard, try to stop the run,” Boise State sophomore running back Alexander Mattison said. “We’re gonna have to do a good job executing on the offensive side of the ball.”

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

Colorado St New Mexico Football(2)
New Mexico running back Richard McQuarley tries to get past the Colorado State defense Oct. 20 in Albuquerque, N.M. Andres Leighton AP

When the Broncos pass the ball ...

The Broncos’ passers have not thrown an interception in 134 passes and have spread the ball around well, throwing for 709 yards the last two games. Boise State has been incredible passing against CSU in their six meetings, completing 129 of 177 passes (72.9 percent) for 1,870 yards and 17 TDs with two INTs.

“Our offense is figuring out what we’re good at and what we’re not,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “The guys are definitely clicking, with the quarterbacks and wide receivers being on the same page ... Brett (Rypien) and Montell (Cozart) do a great job with their preparation and know where to go with the football.”

Colorado State has allowed just 334 passing yards total the last three games, but two were against option teams and one was in a snowstorm in Laramie. Nevada threw for 508 yards in Fort Collins on Oct. 14. The Rams have one interception since Sept. 9.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Rams run the ball ...

Colorado State has rushed for 1,971 yards on 390 attempts, led by senior Dalyn Dawkins’ 1,050, but No. 2 back Izzy Matthews is out with a broken collarbone. The Rams have rushed for at least 180 yards seven times in 2017 and are 6-1 in those games.

“They run the ball very well,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... They’re physical up front, their O-line is very good. Their tailbacks are downhill, a lot like San Diego State, guys that are very good at carrying the rock.”

On the other side, the Broncos have one of the best rush defenses in the country. Though they allowed their first 100-yard rusher last week, the Broncos are No. 8 in the FBS in rush defense (106.4 yards per game) with only one team going over 180 yards thus far.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Rams pass the ball ...

The duo of QB Nick Stevens and WR Michael Gallup is one of the best in the nation. Outside of the 110 yards last week at Wyoming, the Rams have thrown for at least 231 yards in every game, going over 300 yards five times. The line has allowed just six sacks.

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“Their line is the strength of their whole offense ... and they have a bunch of weapons that can attack on the outside,” Boise State junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “We’re going to have to be playing well all the way around the field.”

During Boise State’s five-game streak, opponents have completed 53.1 percent of passes, with four touchdowns to seven interceptions. The most balanced offense the Broncos have faced so far, Virginia, put up 42 points, so they are wary of a team like Colorado State.

ADVANTAGE: Colorado State

Nevada Boise St Football(2)
Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton intercepts a pass intended for Nevada wide receiver Daiyan Henley in the fourth quarter last week at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Darin Oswald AP

Special teams ...

Harsin called Colorado State’s special teams “solid” and, as usual, the Rams are good in the kicking game. Kicker Wyatt Bryan is 14-of-16 on field goals, and punter Ryan Stonehouse is averaging 48.3 yards per punt, though he’s had two blocked.

Avery Williams has two punt-return TDs for Boise State and could have some room against the Rams, who have allowed 12.2 yards per return. Both blocked punts were returned for scores. Junior kicker Haden Hoggarth’s 91.7 percent accuracy on field goals is tied for No. 3 in the FBS.

ADVANTAGE: Push

PLAYERS TO WATCH

COLORADO STATE

Michael Gallup, wide receiver

The nation’s leading receiver coming into the week, Gallup has hauled in 76 catches for 1,196 yards and six touchdowns. A 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior, his receptions are already tied with his 2016 total for third-most in CSU history, and his yardage is fifth-best in a single year.

“By far the best (we’ve seen),” Boise State junior cornerback Tyler Horton said. “Gallup’s the guy leading the nation ... it’s a big challenge.”

Dalyn Dawkins, running back

A Purdue transfer, he gives balance to a potent passing attack, with 160 carries for 1,050 yards and five TDs. He also has 206 receiving yards. He’s on pace for a top-10 rushing season in school history. The senior may see more work with Izzy Matthews (122 carries, 583 yards, 8 TDs) out.

“He runs the ball hard, he’s physical, he’s very well-rounded, just like their offense,” Vander Esch said. “He can do it all. He can catch, he can run.”

Dawkins
Colorado State running back Dalyn Dawkins carries past the New Mexico defense Oct. 20 in Albuquerque, N.M. Andres Leighton AP

Josh Watson, linebacker

Colorado State’s leading tackler with 84, the 6-2, 240-pound junior in the middle has 28 stops in the last two games. He had a forced fumble and intercepted a pass in the Rams’ season opener against Oregon State. He’s also a skilled barber, as his father owns a school that teaches them.

“I watch film all the time. I watch film every night. I watch film in class when I know I’m supposed to be paying attention to class,” Watson told the Loveland Reporter-Herald. “... That just gives me an advantage to play a lot faster on Saturday."

BOISE STATE

Brett Rypien, quarterback

Following what can only be described as a slow start, the junior has found confidence lately, completing 72.6 percent of his passes the last three games with five TDs and no turnovers. His pass efficiency of 136.6 is 49th in the FBS. He was 105th before the Broncos’ five-game winning streak.

“He’s playing exceptionally,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “The last few weeks he really has his confidence back.”

Curtis Weaver, STUD end

Weaver isn’t asked to be a force in the run game, but few players can make an impact like he does when he’s on the field on passing downs. Of his 23 total tackles, seven have been sacks to lead the team. He also had his first interception last Saturday against Nevada.

“He’s been really good,” Harsin said. “I think the key for Curtis has been being focused each and every day. He’s very talented, he’s been consistent in games. He’s providing pressure. ... He does his best work when he has a good week of prep.”

Curtis Weaver
Boise State defensive end Curtis Weaver stiff-arms Nevada offensive lineman Ziad Damanhoury after making a second-quarter interception last Saturday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Kyle Green kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Kekoa Nawahine, safety

The sophomore from Rocky Mountain High has been adept at reading quarterbacks and cutting into passing lanes to create havoc. His three interceptions lead the team, while he is third with 57 tackles (four for loss) and has a fumble recovery.

“He’s got really good ball skills and good instincts,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “He does a really nice job playing in zone (coverage). The guy prepares, so he knows by certain formations and stuff when his opportunities are going to pop up.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

BOISE STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 Brett Rypien

6-2

208

Jr.

3 Montell Cozart

6-1

205

Sr.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

22 Alexander Mattison

5-11

214

So.

21 Ryan Wolpin

5-8

195

Sr.

34 Robert Mahone

5-10

211

RFr.

Wide receiver (X)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

17 Austin Cottrell

6-2

203

Sr.

Wide receiver (H)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 A.J. Richardson

6-0

209

Jr

6 CT Thomas

5-8

152

Fr.

Wide receiver (Z)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Sean Modster

5-11

196

Jr.

82 Octavius Evans

6-1

195

Fr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

88 Jake Roh

6-3

227

Sr.

87 Alec Dhaenens

6-3

246

Sr.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

76 Ezra Cleveland

6-6

296

RFr.

66 Isiah Moore

6-4

275

Jr.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

77 John Molchon

6-5

313

So.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

59 Mason Hampton

6-3

295

Sr.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

79 Eric Quevedo

6-4

304

So.

52 Andrew Tercek

6-1

278

Sr.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

74 Archie Lewis

6-3

299

Sr.

78 Andres Preciado

6-6

292

Jr.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

91 Durrant Miles

6-5

253

Jr.

93 Chase Hatada OR

6-3

267

So.

45 Kayode Rufai

6-4

254

RFr.

Nose tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

98 Sonatane Lui

6-1

305

So.

57 Emmanuel Fesili

6-2

302

So.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

55 David Moa

6-3

271

Jr.

90 Daniel Auelua

6-2

298

Sr.

STUD end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Jabril Frazier OR

6-4

243

Jr.

99 Curtis Weaver

6-3

252

RFr.

Weakside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

38 Leighton Vander Esch

6-4

240

Jr.

44 Riley Whimpey

6-1

212

Fr.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

58 Tyson Maeva

6-0

214

So.

25 Benton Wickersham

6-2

231

RFr.

Strongside linebacker/nickel

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

33 Gabe Perez

6-4

246

Sr.

28 Kekaula Kaniho

5-10

175

Fr.

Boundary cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

14 Tyler Horton

5-11

188

Jr.

15 Jalen Walker

6-0

172

RFr.

Field cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

27 Reid Harrison-Ducros

5-10

180

So.

Field safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 DeAndre Pierce

5-11

174

So.

32 Jordan Happle

5-11

198

RFr.

Boundary safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

10 Kekoa Nawahine

6-2

199

So.

37 Cameron Hartsfield

5-10

197

Sr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

41 Haden Hoggarth

6-0

198

Jr.

46 Joel Velazquez

6-0

228

RFr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

46 Joel Velazquez OR

6-0

228

RFr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

89 Brock Barr

6-3

204

Sr.

50 Nicholai Pitman

5-11

230

So.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson OR

6-3

188

Sr.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

26 Avery Williams OR

5-9

194

RFr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

Troy

W, 24-13

Saturday, Sept. 9

at Washington State

L, 47-44 (3OT)

Thursday, Sept. 14

New Mexico

W, 28-14

Friday, Sept. 22

Virginia

L, 42-23

Friday, Oct. 6

at BYU

W, 24-7

Saturday, Oct. 14

at San Diego State

W, 31-14

Saturday, Oct. 21

Wyoming

W, 24-14

Saturday, Oct. 28

at Utah State

W, 41-14

Saturday, Nov. 4

Nevada

W, 41-14

Saturday, Nov. 11

at Colorado State

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Nov. 18

Air Force

8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, Nov. 25

at Fresno State

1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

COLORADO STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 Nick Stevens

6-3

215

Sr.

15 Collin Hill

6-5

210

So.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Dalyn Dawkins

5-9

185

Sr.

28 Rashaad Boddie

6-0

225

RFr.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

81 Olabisi Johnson

6-0

195

Jr.

27 Trey Smith

6-0

195

Jr.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 Michael Gallup

6-1

200

Sr.

9 Warren Jackson

6-5

205

Fr.

Flanker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Detrich Clark

5-10

180

Sr.

23 Marcus Wilson

5-10

190

Jr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

30 Dalton Fackrell OR

6-4

240

Sr.

16 Cameron Butler

6-2

225

Fr.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

61 Zack Golditch OR

6-5

295

Sr.

60 Trae Moxley

6-6

330

Sr.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

60 Trae Moxley OR

6-6

330

Sr.

51 Colby Meeks

6-3

310

Jr.

73 Tyler Bjorklund

6-4

290

Jr.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

77 Jake Bennett

6-3

290

Sr.

51 Colby Meeks

6-3

310

Jr.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

72 Nicho Garcia

6-5

285

Jr.

71 Jeff Taylor

6-1

305

So.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

78 Ben Knox OR

6-6

325

Jr.

61 Zack Golditch

6-5

295

Sr.

DEFENSE

Left defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

91 Jakob Buys

6-4

280

Sr.

54 Arjay Jean

6-4

240

So.

Nose tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

94 Darnell Thompson

6-4

280

Sr.

99 Colton Foster

6-3

295

Jr.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

95 Richard King

6-4

275

So.

92 Livingston Paogofie

6-1

260

Fr.

Buck linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

43 Evan Colorito

6-4

245

Sr.

33 Emmanuel Jones

6-4

245

Fr.

Strongside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

52 Tre Thomas

6-2

215

Jr.

15 Kiel Robinson

6-2

230

Sr.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

55 Josh Watson

6-2

240

Jr.

42 Patrick Elsenbast OR

6-0

210

Sr.

51 Patrick Moody

6-1

225

Fr.

Weakside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

15 Kiel Robinson

6-2

230

Sr.

31 Max McDonald

6-1

220

So.

Left cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

10 Kevin Nutt, Jr.

5-10

190

Sr.

29 Justin Sweet

5-10

185

Sr.

Right cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

14 Anthony Hawkins

5-10

185

So.

17 Shun Johnson

5-11

170

Sr.

Free safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

11 Jordan Fogal

5-10

181

Sr.

9 Jadon Walker

6-0

175

Fr.

Strong safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Jake Schlager

5-11

195

Sr.

26 Kavapele Maka

6-1

185

Jr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

96 Wyatt Bryan

6-1

175

Jr.

83 Braxton Davis

6-0

170

Jr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

41 Ryan Stonehouse

5-11

170

Fr.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

58 Trent Sieg

6-3

240

Sr.

59 Nathan Lucas

6-2

230

Jr.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

59 Nathan Lucas OR

6-2

230

Jr.

41 Ryan Stonehouse

5-11

170

Fr.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Detrich Clark

5-10

180

Sr.

1 Dalyn Dawkins

5-9

185

Sr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

81 Olabisi Johnson

6-0

195

Jr.

39 Brendan Fulton

5-9

180

So.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Aug. 26

Oregon State

W, 58-27

Friday, Sept. 1

vs. Colorado (Denver)

L, 17-3

Saturday, Sept. 9

Abilene Christian

W, 38-10

Saturday, Sept. 16

at Alabama

L, 41-23

Saturday, Sept. 30

at Hawaii

W, 51-21

Saturday, Oct. 7

at Utah State

W, 27-14

Saturday, Oct. 14

Nevada

W, 44-42

Friday, Oct. 20

at New Mexico

W, 27-24

Saturday, Oct. 28

Air Force

L, 45-28

Saturday, Nov. 4

at Wyoming

L, 16-13

Saturday, Nov. 11

Boise State

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)

Saturday, Nov. 18

San Jose State

1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)

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