Many things need to change for the Boise State football team after the 35-24 loss to BYU on Saturday.
The starting quarterback isn’t one of them, coaches said Monday.
The Broncos need to limit penalties, improve the run game, stop yapping at opponents and, yes, eliminate the interceptions thrown by quarterback Ryan Finley.
Just six days after their 10-game win streak ended, they’ll step onto the blue Friday night to face Idaho State (7, CBS Sports Network).
“Losing is no fun, and nobody enjoys that,” said coach Bryan Harsin, who dropped to 13-3 at Boise State. “At the same time, it also brings up a lot of little things that maybe when you’re winning don’t get heard as much. And when you lose, it’s nothing big, but it’s all the little things that add up. ...
“As disappointing as it is, it also ignites you a little bit because it’s a chance to go out there and prove that you can get it done when you didn’t the week before. That’s how I feel about it. When I’ve lost games, I didn’t sit and cry about it. It was time to get back to work and, really, it lights a fire that you want to get back out there on the football field and prove it and get it done. That’s our mentality, and it needs to be.”
The No. 1 issue: turnover ratio. They were minus-1 in the opener against Washington and won anyway. They were minus-1 against BYU and lost.
“We’ve got to be stingy with the football on the offensive side,’’ Harsin said.
That starts with Finley, who tossed three of his four interceptions this season in the BYU game. One was returned for a touchdown, and another was returned to the 12-yard line to set up a touchdown.
He still is the quarterback who gives the Broncos the best chance to win, offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said.
“I thought he showed tremendous growth as far as managing the game, but he had three decisions that cost us,’’ Drinkwitz said.
Finley was 25-for-38 for 297 yards with one TD and four sacks. He was at his best in the third quarter, when he was 9-for-10 for 126 yards and a TD in leading two touchdown drives. He struggled in the fourth quarter, when he was 2-for-6 for 12 yards with two interceptions and two sacks.
“I thought Ryan had some really good moments,” Drinkwitz said. “I thought he handled the game for the most part really well. That third quarter, he was really feeling it.”
Other issues from BYU:
• The Broncos rushed for 64 yards on 31 carries, or 2.1 yards per carry. Since halftime of the Washington game, they are averaging 1.87 yards per carry. “We didn’t sustain blocks,” Drinkwitz said. “Regardless of whether we won or lost, we were going to have this same conversation on that. It’s got to be corrected.”
• The defense allowed pass plays of 84 (TD), 70, 35 (TD) and 41 yards, mostly on scrambles by QB Tanner Mangum (Eagle High). The 35-yarder on fourth-and-7 won the game, but the 70-yarder on third-and-19 stood out to the coaches because it changed momentum and led to the Cougars’ first score in more than two and a half quarters. “Everything was pretty good besides (the long pass plays), but that’s all they needed,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said.
• Junior CB Jonathan Moxey was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and benched after he complained about an official’s decision. BYU scored a rushing TD with Moxey out, and his replacement, true freshman Tyler Horton, slipped on that play. “We’re doing too much talking,” Yates said. “It will be addressed.” Moxey’s penalty was one of 11 on the Broncos.
DRINKWITZ TAKES LOSS HARD
Drinkwitz, in his first season as the offensive coordinator, said he shares in the blame for Finley’s interceptions and protection breakdowns. He watched video on the ride to the airport.
“I didn’t handle it very well, to be honest with you,” he said of his reaction. “It is what it is. We’re moving on. I was sick to my stomach. I felt bad for the football team, our coaches and our players and our fans because we had one that was close and didn’t get it done. I put it a lot on myself. I feel like I can do better. I am going to do better.
NO SUSPENSION FOR LOW BLOW
BYU decided on internal discipline for offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho, who punched Boise State nickel Chanceller James below the belt during last week’s game. Lapuaho was flagged for the hit.
“In the heat of the battle, these young men make mistakes on both sides,” Harsin said.
“He made a mistake,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall told Utah reporters. “He knows it, I know it — I think the world knows it.”
Senior DT Antoine Turner hasn’t played this season (eligibility/academics issue). ... Junior WR Rick Smith “is still not able to play,” Harsin said. Smith was injured in a locker room incident in the offseason. ... WR commit Derrion Grim, the longest-standing commit in the 2016 class, has switched to Nebraska, he tweeted Monday. ... The Broncos got home about 6 a.m. Sunday because of mechanical troubles that required them to switch airplanes.