Bronco Beat

Boise State to lean on Ford, Pierce with Moxey out for first half

Sam McCaskill pre-New Mexico

DL Sam McCaskill discuses the Lobos on Oct. 5
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DL Sam McCaskill discuses the Lobos on Oct. 5

During the first half of Boise State’s game Friday night at New Mexico, senior cornerback Jonathan Moxey will be suited up, ready to play, but he will be all by himself.

Moxey, in accordance with NCAA rules, will sit out the first two quarters of the game after being ejected with 79 seconds left in Saturday’s win over Utah State. Coach Bryan Harsin said he made quite a few phone calls and sent some e-mails about the play, but there was nothing he could do, as the ruling on the field was finale.

“There’s got to be an appeal in there,” Harsin said.

But minus Moxey, who has started 29 of the Broncos’ last 31 games, the Broncos are rolling with a dash of experience and some young talent. Cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose said that senior Raymond Ford will start, but he also expects freshman DeAndre Pierce to get plenty of action.

“It doesn’t change much at all, we’ve been rotating guys the whole season,” Ambrose said. “... I don’t expect a dropoff at all.”

Ford was beat on a double move on Utah State’s lone touchdown Saturday, but Ambrose said it was a technique issue and “we got squared away on that.” Pierce has played safety, nickel and cornerback already in his young career, a product of what coaches have credited for a high football intelligence.

Ambrose added that if the other cornerbacks (including sophomore Tyler Horton) are playing well, Moxey can be eased back in and won’t need to immediately shake off the rust after the halftime break. It also is a unique situation, facing the run-heavy Lobos, who have attempted 74 passes in four games this season.

“I know we won’t get the ball thrown 30 times this week, 40 times, I think we’ve been averaging 47 a game, which is crazy,” Ambrose said.

It also has been a focused week for the defensive backs, running team ahead or not. Ambrose said the team should have “six or seven (interceptions) right now,” but only has one. He said he’s happy the players are in position to make a play, and doesn’t want to make them tense by overstating the importance, but is confident they’ll come down with more of them sooner than later.

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Boise State and New Mexico have played seven times, the Broncos winning the first six until last season’s 31-24 loss in Boise. I wrote about that game and all its crazy turns here.

It wasn’t the only interesting entry in the series. The last two visits to University Stadium have been wild themselves. Boise State has 1,172 yards of offense in those pair of games, and New Mexico has 995.

▪  In 2012, the Broncos visited Albuquerque for the first time as Mountain West members. And as nearly 30-point favorites, it looked like a rout as they led 25-0 at halftime. The Lobos then came storming back, scoring on their first four drives of the second half to cut the lead to 32-29. Linebacker Tommy Smith, now a graduate assistant on the Broncos’ staff, broke up a New Mexico pass on fourth down shy of midfield to end the game.

▪  In 2014, Boise State found itself in another slugfest, this time from the get-go. The Broncos and Lobos exchanged 75-yard touchdown runs on their first plays from scrimmage. The Lobos, behind touchdowns that included a 100-yard kickoff return and runs of 49 and 75 yards, took a 49-38 lead late in the third quarter, but the Broncos rattled off 22 unanswered points to finish off the game and the 60-49 win.

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Boise State sophomore nose tackle David Moa, who has a team-high 5.5 sacks this season, was added to the Polynesian College Football Player Of The Year Watch List. Moa was born in Tonga.

The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame will announce five finalists Nov. 17, and the winner announced Dec. 7.

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Click here for a fan’s guide to Friday’s game.

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Check out a replay of the live chat Michael Katz and I host earlier today here.

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