Boise State Football

Boise State vs. Fresno State: Who gets the edge, players to watch in MW championship

Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion, right, drops back to pass as Boise State defensive tackle David Moa rushes toward him last November.
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion, right, drops back to pass as Boise State defensive tackle David Moa rushes toward him last November. AP

WHO GETS THE EDGE

When the Broncos run the ball ...

Boise State rushed for 107 yards against Fresno State last Saturday, its longest gain a 21-yarder by quarterback Montell Cozart. The Broncos, who struggled to run early in the season, have put up two of their three lowest rushing performances the last two weeks (90 on Nov. 18).

“We’ve just got to execute. We gave up too many plays, we missed too many opportunities,” Boise State running back Alexander Mattison said. “Against any team, that’s going to eat you up and come back to bite you. We need to clean it up.”

[Fresno State at Boise State, 5:45 p.m. Saturday, ESPN]

The Bulldogs have allowed more than 173 rushing yards once this season, and it was to Alabama, which had 305. Fresno State is 15th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rush defense (117.3 yards per game) and has yielded just four rushing touchdowns in conference play.

ADVANTAGE: Fresno State

Mattison FS
Fresno State linebacker Jeffrey Allison tries to upend Boise State running back Alexander Mattison during the second half last week in Fresno, Calif. Gary Kazanjian AP

When the Broncos pass the ball ...

The Broncos were 6 yards shy of a fifth straight 300-yard passing game last week, and junior quarterback Brett Rypien went another game without an interception. He’s thrown one in his last 206 attempts. Nine players caught passes against the Bulldogs.

Boise State’s 294 yards passing were the second-most allowed by the Bulldogs this season. They have just one interception in the last six games. The Bulldogs have 28 sacks, tied for No. 1 in the Mountain West, and they’re allowing a conference-low 6.2 yards per attempt.

“They were really physical. Their front seven played really well, I thought,” Rypien said. “Their DBs tackle very well. They did a really good job against us.”

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Bulldogs run the ball ...

The attack has been methodical, with not many long plays, as the Bulldogs’ five runs of 20 yards or more are second-fewest in the FBS. The only team with fewer, Western Kentucky, is last in the nation in rushing. Fresno State is 76th (158.5 ypg), with three backs rushing for 456 yards or more.

Boise State held Fresno State to 99 yards in the regular-season finale, the sixth time in 2017 the Broncos have held a team to less than 100. Their 3.47 yards per carry allowed is tied for 19th-best in the FBS, a nice improvement over the 4.31 allowed last season.

“They’re explosive. They showed it when we played them last week. They’ve got a lot of good athletes, they can run the ball if you’re not focusing on that, and they can pass,” Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “Defense has to be in full communication.”

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Bulldogs pass the ball ...

Ex-Boise State wide receiver Kirby Moore’s group was impressive, led by the duo of KeeSean Johnson and Jamire Jordan, who combined for 210 yards receiving. The Bulldogs’ offensive line held the Broncos without a sack, something it has done three of the last four games.

The Broncos couldn’t find an answer for QB Marcus McMaryion, who hit on passes at each level, including four passes of 30 yards or more. Boise State allowed its second-highest passing total of the season, and its two-game streak without an interception is the longest of 2017.

“They really game-planned us, they had their stuff together, and their quarterback is very smart. ... I’d say they were the best group of receivers we’ve seen this year,” Boise State safety DeAndre Pierce said.

ADVANTAGE: Push

Fresno TE
Fresno State tight end Jared Rice heads down field for a 36-yard gain in the Bulldogs’ victory over Boise State last season. The junior from Modesto has caught 26 passes on 33 targets for 349 yards and two touchdowns headed into the Bulldogs’ game at New Mexico Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. Gary Kazanjian AP

Special teams ...

Boise State has allowed minus-3 yards on punt returns the last six games. The Bulldogs have allowed just 1 punt return yard the last five games, but they’ve allowed 37- and 77-yard returns this season.

Fresno State kicker Jimmy Camacho has made 21-of-25 field goal attempts, including two 50-yarders, while Boise State’s Haden Hoggarth is 16-of-19, though he missed one against the Bulldogs. Boise State has two punt return TDs, and Fresno State has blocked two kicks.

“Their specialists did a great job last game, didn’t give us many opportunities, so we’re going to have to step up this game,” Boise State returner Avery Williams said.

ADVANTAGE: Push

PLAYERS TO WATCH

FRESNO STATE

Marcus McMaryion, quarterback

Boise State knew the junior transfer from Oregon State could make plays, and he proved it with a season-high 332 yards passing, completing 63.9 percent without a turnover. He’s thrown interceptions in two of the Bulldogs’ 12 games this year, and has the team’s longest rush (57).

“He’s able to do it on the ground, and he’s definitely capable of doing it in the air. ... He made some plays on Saturday. We’ve got to do a better job in leverage,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.

Marcus
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion drops back to pass against Boise State linebacker Desmond Williams during the first half last week in Fresno, Calif. Gary Kazanjian AP

Aaron Mitchell, center

The 6-foot-2, 305-pound All-Mountain West second-team selection anchors a line that on 354 pass attempts has allowed just seven sacks, second-fewest in the nation. Only Army has allowed fewer, and the Black Knights have passed 60 times all season.

“He is the heart and soul of the offensive line, and you can extend that to the rest of the offense,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said of the senior. “... The only way you can get better is with those types of leaders.”

Malik Forrester, defensive tackle

A 6-foot-1, 295-pound senior from Annapolis, Maryland, Forrester is a force on the inside. He has seven tackles for loss on the season, including four sacks. He has a sack in back-to-back games, including a safety with less than 2 minutes left against Boise State.

“He goes hard, he has a good motor, and he’s quick,” Boise State center Mason Hampton said.

BOISE STATE

Cedrick Wilson, wide receiver

A first-team All-Mountain West selection, the senior has more than settled into the No. 1 role, with 1,142 yards receiving. That’s good for No. 9 in the FBS and fifth-most in a single season in Boise State history. He’s 131 yards shy of becoming No. 2, 271 from being No. 1.

“He’s the perfect example of what you want from a (junior college) guy — came in, learned the offense really quick, was productive his first year and has just gotten better every single day, hasn’t looked back,” quarterback Brett Rypien said.

Wilson
Boise State wide receiver Cedrick Wilson stops and poses for a moment after catching a second-quarter touchdown pass against Nevada on Nov. 4 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Alexander Mattison, running back

The sophomore crossed the 1,000-yard plateau last week and has 1,024 yards rushing on the season, 858 in the last eight games. He needs 250 yards to break into the top 10 in school history for a single season. His 15 carries last week were his second-fewest since Oct. 6.

“I don’t expect to not get the ball, I don’t expect to get the ball either,” Mattison said. “I just know whether I’m getting it, whether I’m not, I have to do my job.”

Leighton Vander Esch, linebacker

Boise State’s first conference defensive player of the year since 2006, the junior leads the team with 113 tackles and also has three sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He didn’t move into the starting lineup until this season after missing half of 2016 as a backup.

“I think he deserved it, he’s put in the work ever since he got here ... he’s wherever the ball is,” Wilson said. “He took the bull by the horns and took it down soon as he got his chance. He acted like it was his spot since Day 1.”

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.

9 Desmond Williams

5-11

201

RFr.

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

L, 28-17

Saturday, Dec. 2

Fresno State (MW)

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.

90 Kevin Atkins

6-2

297

RFr.

91 Nathan Madsen

6-4

298

Sr.

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

W, 28-17

Saturday, Dec. 2

at Boise State (MW)

5:45 p.m. (ESPN)

  Comments