Boise State’s defense did a solid job of bottling up a mobile quarterback in the Broncos’ season opener, but the difficulty level will be ratcheted up Saturday.
UConn senior quarterback David Pindell is coming off a strong performance in Aug. 30’s 56-17 loss to UCF, one of the Huskies’ lone bright spots. Pindell rushed for 157 yards and threw for 266 yards, scoring a rushing touchdown and throwing for another.
The Broncos kept Troy’s Kaleb Barker in check, allowing him to complete 20-of-29 passes for 211 yards, with one interception and one touchdown. Barker had rushed 30 times for 282 yards previously in his career, but had just 25 yards on 17 rushes Saturday.
“(Pindell) is very athletic. ... We just saw a very athletic player, I think (Pindell) is more athletic,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “I think he’s got the ability to do everything in balance.
“It’ll be a different challenge for our defense.”
The 6-foot, 198-pound Pindell was the Huskies’ starter to begin 2017, but lost the job, then regained it late in the season. He rushed for 271 yards in his four starts, and had four touchdowns to six interceptions on the season.
UConn coach Randy Edsall praised Pindell’s work ethic, which enabled him to hold onto the job in the offseason and start off on a strong foot.
“I thought he handled the game very well. I thought he was poised throughout the game,” Edsall said. “... He did a good job making plays with his feet when things broke down. That was something that was very effective for us. That was something we started to see last year, and he’s bigger and stronger than he was last year. He’s very comfortable now with what we’re trying to do offensively.”
Following the 56-20 win at Troy, Boise State’s defensive players said one area that would need a little work is tackling. Troy had broken just one tackle last year against the Broncos, Trojans coach Neal Brown said, but they had a few Saturday, especially early.
It’s the perfect time for the Broncos to focus on that aspect, with Pindell having the third-most rushing yards among FBS quarterbacks (and eighth-most nationally among players with one game).
“Obviously — he’s a great competitor ... really slippery out there in the open field,” senior defensive end Durrant Miles said. “That’s something we’re going to talk about and stress throughout the week, the tackling fundamentals.”
UPTICK IN SEASON TICKETS
As Boise State prepares for its home opener Saturday, the school reported it has sold more season tickets this year than last.
The Broncos have sold 17,822 season tickets, nearly 200 more than the 17,633 sold last year. Since the all-time high of 24,109 in 2012, season ticket sales have dropped every year but one. In 2016, they fell below 20,000 for the first time since 2006.
Season ticket plans are as low as $99 in the North End Zone. Single-game tickets for Saturday’s game are available, ranging from $19 to $65, depending on location.
MOVIN’ ON UP ...
Only two Group of Five teams are ranked. UCF is ahead of Boise State in the AP poll at No. 19, and one spot behind in the coaches’ poll at No. 20.
UCONN AT NO. 20 BOISE STATE
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
TV: ESPNU (Mike Couzens, Kirk Morrison); CableOne ch. 136/1136, DirecTV ch. 208, Dish Network ch. 141
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 1-0 (beat Troy 56-20 on Saturday); UConn 0-1 (lost 56-17 to UCF on Thursday)
Series: Boise State 1-0 (Broncos beat Huskies 38-21 on Sept. 13, 2014, in East Hartford, Conn.)
Vegas line: Boise State by 31