Boise State Football

Instant Analysis: Boise State survives mistake-prone home opener with dominant defense

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin on Marshall win, his penalty, QB Hank Bachmeier

Highlights from Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin's press conference after the 14-7 win against Marshall. Harsin also addressed his unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty and the play of quarterback Hank Bachmeier.
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Highlights from Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin's press conference after the 14-7 win against Marshall. Harsin also addressed his unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty and the play of quarterback Hank Bachmeier.

Final score: Boise State 14, Marshall 7

Records: Boise State is 2-0; Marshall is 1-1

Why the Broncos won: The offense, while mistake prone, had too many weapons for Marshall to shut down, and the Broncos played lights-out defense for the last three quarters.

The Broncos rolled up 437 yards despite missing three offensive starters for most of the game — right tackle John Ojukwu, wide receiver CT Thomas and running back Robert Mahone. The problem was they shot themselves in the foot more often than they scored. They failed to capitalize on a turnover in Marshall territory (missed field goal), had a touchdown erased by a holding penalty (no points), lost 10 yards on a botched snap in the red zone (no points), threw an interception in the red zone and lost a big punt return on a penalty (no points).

“We know what we’re capable of as an offense. We know that wasn’t out standard,” wide receiver Khalil Shakir said. “We know we can execute better and we need to execute better in the future.”

The defense, meanwhile, repeatedly stopped the Thundering Herd after they gashed the Broncos with the run to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. On Marshall’s next seven drives, it never moved the ball more than 24 yards and lost ground three times. On its five drives in the second half, it netted minus-10 yards after penalties — and safety Kekoa Nawahine grabbed a key interception.

[Related: Dominant defense keys Boise State victory; Boise State honors Paul Reyna’s family; Harsin lets ‘bad wolf’ out]

Boise State outgained Marshall 235-0 in the second half and posted a second-half shutout for a comeback win for the second straight week.

“Being able to respond again was really fun to do,” nickel Kekaula Kaniho said.

Senior safety Kekoa Nawahine, junior nickel Kekaula Kaniho and sophomore receiver Khalil Shakir discuss the Boise State football team's 14-7 win over Marshall on Friday at Albertsons Stadium.

Main takeaway: The challenge of playing a good team on short rest after a physically demanding game and long road trip was real. The Broncos had to gut their way through this one — and they did. That’s the sign of a good team. They clearly didn’t play their best, and they beat a team that’s probably going to play in a bowl game. Next week’s game against Portland State should provide an opportunity to breathe a little easier before Mountain West play begins.

And given that the Broncos had to be tired and certainly were battered after the first six quarters of the season, that second half dominance was impressive.

“We did enough tonight to win but the potential that we have, we’ve got to find a way to tap into that a little bit more,” coach Bryan Harsin said.

Player of the game: True freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier impressed again, showing poise under pressure and toughness as he took some big hits (and had his helmet ripped from his head). He flashed some running ability in the first half, including the first TD run of his career. Bachmeier was 22-for-34 for 282 yards and a touchdown with an interception and two sacks. He ran for 26 yards. The flaw: He had two turnovers for the second straight game.

Play of the game: Bachmeier connected with senior wide receiver John Hightower on a post and Hightower showed his ridiculous speed in turning the catch into a 47-yard, game-winning touchdown in the third quarter. The play made it 14-7 Boise State.

What’s next: Portland State at Boise State, 8:15 p.m. Sept. 14 at Albertsons Stadium (ESPN2).

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