Bronco Beat

Boise State football report card: Here’s how we grade the win over Wyoming

Boise State quarterback Montell Cozart (3) gets the ball over the goal line for his second touchdown on the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.
Boise State quarterback Montell Cozart (3) gets the ball over the goal line for his second touchdown on the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Boise State’s new recipe for success cooked up a win over Wyoming on Saturday night, even if it was not the most exquisite dish.

The Broncos’ offense clicked in the second half, scoring touchdown on its first three possessions with another solid rushing performance and efficient passing. Again, the defense was excellent, slowing down another big-time talent, and special teams helped win field position.

Since the bye week, Boise State (5-2, 3-0) has won three in a row by a combined 79-35, including a 31-7 edge in the fourth quarter. The Broncos scored the final 14 points of the game in their 24-14 win Saturday.

“We’ve got to keep the momentum rolling,” junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “I thought it was a great win for us, finishing in the fourth quarter again.”

OFFENSE: B-minus

Following a brutal first half in which they had just 118 yards and three points, the Broncos didn’t deliver a haymaker, but delivered a long series of body blows coming out of the half.

Boise State’s 18-play, 71-yard march was a good encapsulation of the offense’s new-found methodical approach, a drive Vander Esch called “insane.” The Broncos went ahead for good on a 10-play, 57-yarder. They were balanced, rushing for 165 yards and throwing for 177.

Senior quarterback Montell Cozart again was a closer, finishing out drives that junior Brett Rypien helped set up. For the second straight game, Boise State didn’t have a turnover.

“Whether it’s Cozart, whether it’s Brett, they know what they have to do,” said sophomore running back Alexander Mattison (91 yards). “They’re going to get the job done either way. They both have the same mentality we’ve been establishing, that’s hitting it fast and pyhiscal.”

With both teams using a slower pace, the Broncos had the ball only five times in the second half, scoring touchdowns on the first three, and taking a knee to end the game on the last one. They could have closed it out earlier, but were stopped at the Wyoming 13 on a fourth down.

“The one negative, we didn’t finish with that fourth down,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “That’s frustrating. We make no bones about it, that was our chance to end the game. We’ve to go back to the drawing board and figure out how we do that.”

DEFENSE: A-minus

Wyoming junior quarterback Josh Allen will be a hotly-debated NFL prospect, and he showed some next-level skills Saturday. But a week after shutting down San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, the Broncos kept Allen at bay most of the night.

Allen was 12-of-27 passing for 131 yards with a touchdown and a two interceptions. He rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought they did a nice job with their rush, and they got in his face,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said.

Boise State had four sacks in the win, giving them 21 on the year. The Cowboys had only one play cover more than 20 yards. Opponents have just 19 such plays, tied for third-fewest in the nation. Wyoming averaged 3.3 yards per carry.

“Everybody is taking care of their own individual job, so with the defensive line containing them and us in the secondary plastering, that was enough to keep them contained,” said sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce, who had his first career interception.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Boise State kicker Haden Hoggarth had his first missed field goal of the season, on his seventh try of the year. He made his second attempt, finishing a drive set up by Pierce’s interception. Three of Joel Velazquez’s five kickoffs went for touchbacks, and Milo Hall’s two returns covered 61 yards. Hall had two touchdowns coming into the game.

Avery Williams’ 16-yard punt return set up Boise State on its final touchdown drive inside Wyoming territory. The Broncos’ average field position was their own 37-yard line, and the Cowboys’ was their own 26.

“When you can win the field position battle, you win the turnover battle, you’re hard to beat,” Harsin said.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

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