Boise State Football

Boise State vs. Fresno State: Who gets the edge, players to watch in regular-season finale

Air Force quarterback Nate Romine (6) laterals the football as he is met by Boise State linebacker Desmond Williams (9) last Saturday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.
Air Force quarterback Nate Romine (6) laterals the football as he is met by Boise State linebacker Desmond Williams (9) last Saturday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

WHO GETS THE EDGE

When the Broncos run the ball ...

Boise State is coming off its second-worst rushing performance of the season, after having 90 yards against Air Force. The Falcons sold out to stop the run, but don’t expect Fresno State to do so. In every other game since the start of October, the Broncos had rushed for 140 yards or more.

The Bulldogs have one of the nation’s best rush defenses, tied for 16th at 118.2 yards per game allowed. Only Alabama (305) has rushed for more than 173 yards on them. Fresno State has allowed two runs of 30 yards or more, one of 10 teams nationally to allow so few.

[Boise State at Fresno State, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS Sports Network]

“They fly around, they know what they’re doing and they play pretty sound,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “They don’t give up a bunch of explosive plays. ... They’re not giving up big chunk yardage. You have to go earn it.”

ADVANTAGE: Fresno State

Fresno St Wyoming FIITBALL
Wyoming fullback Drew Van Maanen (36) fumbles the ball while being tripped up by Fresno State defensive back Jaron Bryant (14) last Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo. Josh Galemore AP

When the Broncos pass the ball ...

In the past four games, Boise State has been outstanding throwing the ball. Junior quarterback Brett Rypien is 78-of-119 (65.5 percent) for 1,149 yards with 12 TDs and just one interception. Paired with senior Montell Cozart, the passing attack gives opposing defenses a tall task, especially with an improved receiving corps.

“It’s a two-headed monster, really,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said. “Rypien is playing really well, they’re really explosive ... Cozart does a really good job. Both can create plays, no doubt. And they have a great group around them.”

Ranked 22nd nationally against the pass (189.3 ypg), the Bulldogs have given plenty of teams headaches. Five teams have thrown for more than 200 yards and just one, Washington, has thrown for more than 300. Fresno State has 25 sacks but isn’t taking too many risks (eight INTs).

ADVANTAGE: Push

When the Bulldogs run the ball ...

No running back has more than 552 yards (freshman Jordan Mims), but two others have 464 and 444 yards. It’s a balanced attack that averages 163.9 ypg and is pretty methodical, having just two rushes of 30 yards or more all season. One was by QB Marcus McMaryion.

“They rotate guys, like a lot of people do, to try to keep them fresh,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “Their O-line does a great job with their movements and being able to establish the line of scrimmage. We’re going to have to do a great job up front with our fundamentals and our techniques.”

Boise State has struggled at times stopping the run against balanced offenses (428 yards combined against Virginia and Colorado State), but the Broncos’ 3.5 yards per carry allowed this season is 20th nationally. Only Colorado State has rushed for more than 200 yards on them this season.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

LVE AF
Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (38) steps over Air Force wide receiver Ronald Cleveland (3) after making a tackle last Saturday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Joe Jaszewski jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

When the Bulldogs pass the ball ...

Junior quarterback Marcus McMaryion has made a major difference in his eight games as starter, as he ranks 28th nationally in pass efficiency (144.9), having thrown just three INTs. The Bulldogs have a deep group of receivers capable of big games and have allowed just seven sacks.

The Broncos have proven their young defense is fully capable of slowing down most passing attacks, either by the pass rush (28 sacks) or via turnover (12 interceptions). Their pass efficiency defense ranks 30th nationally (115.9).

“They have some good defensive backs, and they play really well together as a defense,” Fresno State wide receiver KeeSean Johnson said. “We’ll find a way. We take pride in helping each other make plays.”

ADVANTAGE: Push

Special teams ...

Boise State found a reliable kicker in junior Haden Hoggarth, who has made 15 of 17 field goals this season. The Broncos also have two punt-return TDs and rank 44th in net punting and 14th in punt-return defense. They are 80th in kickoff-return defense.

The Bulldogs rank 119th in punt-return defense, allowing 13.4 yards per return, and have allowed a touchdown. They have blocked two kicks, however. Fresno State is 53rd in kickoff returns, 66th in punt returns and 85th in net punting. The Bulldogs are 19-of-23 on field goals.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

FRESNO STATE

Marcus McMaryion, quarterback

The junior transferred in from Oregon State as a graduate transfer in August, and he took over as the starter after a 1-2 start for the team (though the losses were to Alabama and Washington). He’s 8-1 at the helm, and is 146-of-233 passing for 1,880 yards with 12 TDs and three interceptions. He also has 192 rushing yards.

“The quarterback change has been a good one for them, they’ve been very productive,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “... He’s very capable within the pass game, but also being able to extend with his legs.”

Marcus
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion (6) prepares to pass the ball during the team's NCAA college football game against Wyoming last Saturday in Laramie, Wyo. Josh Galemore, AP

KeeSean Johnson, wide receiver

At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, the junior is a good-sized target and has been reliable, hauling in four or more passes in 10 games. He leads the team with 58 catches for 741 yards and six TDs. He could challenge the school record of 233 career catches, as he sits ninth with 161.

“I just try to do as much as I can to help the team to win, so I just want to keep the good vibes rolling,” Johnson said. “It’s been fun this year, for sure.”

George Helmuth, linebacker

A backup early, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior had a sack that forced a fumble Sept. 16 at Washington, which helped earn him a starting gig. He has 61 tackles in eight games since, including 11 last week, which earned him Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“From day one George was one of those guys that immediately bought in, which is how you make change fast,” linebackers coach Bert Watts told the Fresno Bee. “Right from the start. There was no sell for him.”

BOISE STATE

Sean Modster, wide receiver

When he had multiple drops in the Broncos’ Sept. 22 loss to Virginia, it was a game that could have damaged the junior. But he used it as a turnaround. His nine catches the past two games lead the team, and he has TDs in both contests, including Nov. 11 against Colorado State, when he had five catches in a 10-play span late in the win.

“Focusing on not accepting a drop, that’s been my big emphasis,” Modster said. “Confidence has a lot to do with how I’m playing. ... (At CSU), somebody had to make a play, give a spark.”

Modster
Boise State wide receiver Sean Modster (8) runs the ball against Air Force defensive back Jeremy Fejedelem, obscured, and linebacker Lakota Wills (8) during the first half last last year at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Boise State won 44-19. Otto Kitsinger AP

David Moa, defensive tackle

The junior led Boise State last season with 8.5 sacks, but thus far has just two in 2017. That isn’t to say he hasn’t been productive. When he missed Nov. 4’s game against Nevada, the Wolf Pack’s Kelton Moore was the first 100-yard rusher against the Broncos this year.

“When David Moa’s on the field, he makes a huge difference,” Avalos said. “It doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet. ... He is a foundation of this defense. When David’s in there, Boise State’s defense is better off.”

Gabe Perez, linebacker

Only one player on the Broncos’ roster has ever played at Fresno State, in 2013, and that was Perez. Battling injuries the last two seasons, he’s started five games and has 14 tackles. He forced a fumble last week against Air Force, and then got up to recover the loose ball.

“It’s amazing. I’ve enjoyed the experience,” Perez said. “My goal this season, coming back and playing one more year, was letting (injured) guys know they may be out this year ... but there will be a role for them. I feel awesome.”

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.

30 Robert Lewis

5-10

175

RFr.

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

W, 59-52 (OT)

Saturday, Nov. 18

Air Force

W, 44-19

Saturday, Nov. 25

at Fresno State

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

Saturday, Dec. 2

Fresno State (site TBD)

5:45 p.m. (ESPN)

FRESNO STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Marcus McMaryion

6-2

195

Jr.

5 Chason Virgil

6-1

192

So.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

22 Jordan Mims

5-11

190

Fr.

20 Ronnie Rivers

5-8

175

Fr.

33 Josh Hokit

6-1

220

So.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Jamire Jordan

5-11

171

Jr.

7 Derrion Grim

6-1

186

So.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

3 KeeSean Johnson

6-2

202

Jr.

87 Namani Parker

6-4

198

Jr.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Da’Mari Scott

6-1

210

Sr.

13 Justin Allen

5-11

188

Jr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

89 Kyle Riddering

6-6

240

Jr.

16 Jared Rice

6-5

228

So.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

58 Christian Cronk

6-5

305

Jr.

79 Nick Aibuedefe

6-4

270

So.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

52 Netane Muti

6-3

310

RFr.

74 Ryan Popolizio

6-7

311

Sr.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

77 Aaron Mitchell

6-2

305

Sr.

51 Markus Boyer

6-1

304

Jr.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

73 Micah St. Andrew

6-3

343

Jr.

66 Quireo Woodley

6-4

300

Fr.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

78 David Patterson

6-5

302

Sr.

65 Syrus Tuitele

6-6

298

Fr.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

32 Robert Stanley

6-3

245

Sr.

33 Kwami Jones

6-2

240

So.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

97 Malik Forrester

6-1

295

Sr.

93 Jasad Haynes

6-0

275

So.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

91 Nathan Madsen

6-4

298

Sr.

90 Kevin Atkins

6-2

297

RFr.

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

56 Tobenna Okeke

6-3

245

Sr.

44 Stephen Van Hook

6-2

245

Sr.

Linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

34 George Helmuth

6-1

220

Jr.

29 Justin Rice

6-2

210

So.

Linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

9 Jeffrey Allison

6-0

250

So.

22 Trent Soechting

6-3

220

Jr.

Linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 James Bailey

6-1

225

Jr.

40 Justin Green

6-4

210

Sr.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Tank Kelly

5-10

185

Jr.

25 Sherman Coleman, Jr

5-9

165

Jr.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

14 Jaron Bryant

6-0

183

So.

17 Johnny Johnson, Jr

5-9

185

Sr.

Free safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 Mike Bell

6-3

205

So.

2 DeShawn Potts

6-0

200

Jr.

Strong safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

23 Juju Hughes

5-10

180

So.

27 Ka’Lonn Milton

6-0

185

So.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

36 Jimmy Camacho

5-10

180

Sr.

48 Kody Kroening

5-11

180

Sr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

47 Blake Cusick

6-2

185

So.

36 Jimmy Camacho

5-10

180

Sr.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

53 Jacob Westberry

6-3

235

RFr.

54 Patrick Williams, Jr.

6-3

205

RFr.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

47 Blake Cusick

6-2

185

So.

5 Chason Virgil

6-1

192

So.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

11 Dejonte O’Neal

5-7

170

Jr.

8 Da’Mari Scott

6-1

210

Sr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

3 KeeSean Johnson

6-2

202

Jr.

20 Ronnie Rivers

5-8

175

Fr.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

Incarnate Word

W, 66-0

Saturday, Sept. 9

at Alabama

L, 41-10

Saturday, Sept. 16

at Washington

L, 48-16

Saturday, Sept. 30

Nevada

W, 41-21

Saturday, Oct. 7

at San Jose State

W, 27-10

Saturday, Oct. 14

New Mexico

W, 38-0

Saturday, Oct. 21

at San Diego State

W, 27-3

Saturday, Oct. 28

UNLV

L, 26-16

Saturday, Nov. 4

BYU

W, 20-13

Saturday, Nov. 11

at Hawaii

W, 31-21

Saturday, Nov. 18

at Wyoming

W, 13-7

Saturday, Nov. 25

Boise State

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

Saturday, Dec. 2

Boise State (site TBD)

5:45 p.m. (ESPN)

  Comments