Boise State Football

Boise State football report card: Broncos get stellar grades for crushing UConn

Bryan Harsin on Boise State’s big win in home opener

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin addresses the media after the Broncos' 62-7 rout of UConn in the home opener.
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Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin addresses the media after the Broncos' 62-7 rout of UConn in the home opener.

Few Boise State football games in recent seasons saw the dominance put forward Saturday in the Broncos’ 62-7 rout of UConn.

From a record-setting offensive performance to a defense that was just as impressive, it gave Boise State the sort of momentum it wanted heading into next Saturday’s matchup at Oklahoma State.

“I’m not going to downplay what our team did tonight ... the entire performance was tremendous by our players,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.

In all three facets of the game, including a much-improved special teams performance, it was as well-rounded a victory as the home crowd could’ve hoped for in the first game of the season at Albertsons Stadium.

OFFENSE: A-plus

In the pantheon of amazing Boise State offensive showings, Saturday’s stands right among the most impressive — a record 818 yards, and incredibly balanced (418 passing, 400 rushing).

The offense scored on every possession the first team was on the field, all eight times, racking up 588 yards on those drives. UConn did not have a sack, had just two tackles for loss and did not create a turnover.

“There is no other feeling like it when you get to go out there with your brothers and you just do things the right way,” junior running back Alexander Mattison said. “As hard as we’re practicing, it should show up like that in a game. And it did tonight, and it just feels amazing.”

Boise State now finds itself No. 4 in the FBS in total offense (617 yards per game). Oklahoma State is No. 1 with 674.5 ypg. The rushing total was sixth in school history, led by Mattison’s 115 yards and two TDs. The Broncos have five different wide receivers who have hauled in a touchdown pass, not including sophomore Octavius Evans, who has missed the first two games.

Junior college transfer John Hightower was the new breakout weapon, scoring on a 55-yard touchdown run and a 67-yard touchdown pass. Quarterback Brett Rypien (362 yards, three TDs) connected with Hightower on a deep ball, standing strong in the pocket and taking a hit.

“It’s always a really good feeling when you’re on your back and you hear the crowd go wild and you’re like, ‘Yes, I completed it,’ and then he’s in the end zone,” Rypien said. “I knew he was going to be in the end zone because he’s going to run away from anybody.”

DEFENSE: A

It wasn’t until midway through the third quarter that the Huskies passed their own 40-yard line, and they had just one play longer than 15 yards. The Broncos allowed just 193 yards of offense, including 71 passing. Mobile quarterback David Pindell, who had 156 yards rushing the prior week against UCF, had just 40.

“It was good to see our guys tackle a quarterback that we really felt was electric,” Harsin said. “We swarmed to the ball and did a good job of getting around it.”

UConn coach Randy Edsall said the Broncos’ defense was “outstanding” and the team “probably should be maybe (ranked) a little bit higher.” Boise State was able to flex its depth, subbing out starters in the second half and allowing just one touchdown. The Broncos got a turnover on an Avery Williams interception and had a sack.

“I think that’s what’s awesome about our defense is we are able to stay fresh and rotate like that. And it’s awesome to see all of us contributing. It came out to be a good night for us,” sophomore linebacker Riley Whimpey said.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

The worst part of the Broncos’ season-opening 56-20 win at Troy, the special teams stepped up against UConn.

Kicker Haden Hoggarth hit both field goal attempts, including a career-best 44-yarder. Punter Quinn Skillin had just one attempt, but pinned the Huskies at their own 7. Freshman Khalil Shakir stepped in for Avery Williams and had four punt returns for 44 yards, though one return he had a youthful slip of mind and ran into the end zone before getting out for a decent return.

“It was good ... to see our special teams step up. Those guys played really well, we pinned the ball inside the 10, we hit our field goals,” Harsin said.

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