Perhaps the most important play in Boise State’s loss to New Mexico last week was the Lobos’ 81-yard pass on second-and-17 early in the fourth quarter. Instead of Boise State potentially getting terrific field position in a tie game, the play allowed New Mexico to take a 24-17 lead.
Earlier that day, Air Force did the same thing to Utah State. The Falcons, whose option-oriented offense is a close cousin of the Lobos’, hit a 74-yard touchdown pass early in the second half to pull away from Utah State. The Falcons threw for a season-high 271 yards in the game.
Boise State’s defense will be focused first and foremost on stopping the run, which is Air Force’s staple. But it’s the pass plays that can serve as back-breakers.
“You can’t cheat,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “You have to do what you’re asked to do — no more than that. If that’s the case, you’ll be in competitive plays.”
What coaches don’t want to see is receivers running free because defenders were caught watching the backfield instead of their man. That’s what happened on New Mexico’s 81-yard pass.
“Usually when bad things happen, you come in here and ask that question, and it’s usually just someone messing up their job,” junior linebacker Tanner Vallejo said.
Air Force senior quarterback Karson Roberts has completed 54.9 percent of his passes this season. He averages 19.3 yards per completion.
Boise State’s pass defense has struggled against the pass in the past two games with two starters out with injuries.
“It’s intriguing because they test your eyes, they test your technique, they test your discipline,” senior cornerback Donte Deayon said.