Bronco Beat

Boise State offense report: O-line capitalizes on run-first plan

kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Note: I’m trying something new this week. Rather than stuffing all of the notes/quotes from the coordinators in the Monday post, I’m separating that content out into weekly reports on the offense and defense, starting with the offense (the defense post will go up tomorrow).

Looking back: The Broncos ran the ball 47 times for 207 yards and a touchdown last week in a 34-14 win against Wyoming. Sophomore tailback Jeremy McNichols produced 202 yards from scrimmage on a school-record 40 touches. True freshman quarterback Brett Rypien added 211 passing yards and three touchdowns. The team didn’t allow a sack, which was a big emphasis after the loss to Utah State.

“I thought (the offensive linemen) played well, and they responded to a challenge,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said. “They hunkered down. They knew what was being said and critiqued and those guys went to work. They didn’t complain about it. They just went to work.”

Looking forward: The Broncos play Saturday at UNLV, which has caused problems for opposing quarterbacks. The Rebels rank 22nd in the nation in pass-efficiency allowed at 108.21. They have 10 interceptions and have allowed eight touchdown passes. They have been less impressive against the run, allowing 5.1 yards per carry.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the quarterback and disguising of coverages and tipped balls,” Drinkwitz said. “Every ball is contested. There’s not a lot of space in their zones. If you’re not accurate with the football, then there’s going to be issues.”

Player to watch: Boise State sophomore Archie Lewis will start at left tackle in place of injured senior Rees Odhiambo (broken ankle). Lewis struggled in the first two games this season at right tackle but played better last week in place of injured starter Mario Yakoo.

UNLV only has five sacks this season, tied for second-fewest in the nation, but likely will find ways to attack Lewis.

Lewis started four games at left tackle last year when Odhiambo was hurt.

“He definitely has proven himself to the line and we have total confidence in him if he has to go in at any position,” senior center Marcus Henry said.

Notes and quotes from OC Eliah Drinkwitz

— On wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck’s catch against Wyoming: “Thomas’ one-handed catch was as amazing a catch as I’ve seen in a long time.”

— The Broncos went fast after the Sperbeck catch to prevent a review. The referee said the booth buzzed him after the next snap, which was too late. “We should have let the replay booth look at it,” Drinkwitz said, after watching game video. “He caught it, and he caught it pretty easily.”

— On the Wyoming game, in which the Broncos scored 24 points on their first four possessions and likely would have scored on their first three possessions of the second half if not for a fumble at the 1-yard line: “It was a very balanced performance offensively — as efficient as we’ve been all season. We let one scoring opportunity get away with the turnover. ... We took our shots when we needed to. We wanted to consistently run the football. We were able to do that.” Drinkwitz noted that Wyoming played a bend-but-don’t-break defense with two high safeties, which pushed the Broncos to run more.

— On tailback Jeremy McNichols getting a record 40 touches: “Jeremy McNichols is a special player and he’s going to have to get touches in the ballgame for us to continue to be explosive.”

— On Rypien: “The biggest lesson (for him so far) is how he responded to the Utah State game. I was very impressed with his poise and him coming back and playing well despite the criticism and the failures of the game before. We talk about having grit, moving forward in spite of challenges and obstacles and setbacks. I felt like he did that.”

— On some fan criticism of Rypien: “I just think that when you’re a freshman, maybe you don’t expect it. The longer that you’re in this atmosphere the more you know that comes with the territory. A lot of praise has been heaped on him coming through and all of a sudden when you have setbacks naturally there are things that are said and critiques. ... When you perform on Saturday, you put yourself out to be critiqued. If you don’t play well, then everybody notices. Because of social media these days, you have more critics and fans than ever before. ... You (make a mistake) on national TV, Twitter talks about it.”

— On playing UNLV after the Rebels’ bye: “The thing I expect is for them to be very prepared. I’m sure they took the week to prepare for us. I expect them to come out ready to play and know our tendencies and have a great plan for those.”

Notes/quotes from center Marcus Henry:

— On running the ball last week: “You come to Boise State to run the football. ... You want to mash up front. It’s fun.”

— On Sperbeck’s catch: “We see it all the time in practice. Thomas makes crazy one-handed catches in practice like it’s nothing.”

OFFENSE

BSU

UNLV

Scoring (FBS rank)

38.0 (19)

28.3 (T-73)

Total offense

455.6 (30)

370.6 (89)

Rushing

175.4 (61)

213.6 (27)

Passing

280.3 (26)

157.0 (114)

Turnovers lost

15 (101)

8 (18)

3rd-down conversion

39.5 (69)

36.5 (93)

DEFENSE

BSU

UNLV

Scoring (FBS rank)

17.3 (18)

27.4 (76)

Total defense

265.5 (5)

419.9 (90)

Rushing

81.4 (5)

183.7 (89)

Passing

184.1 (24)

236.1 (80)

Turnovers gained

18 (5)

14 (28)

3rd-down conversion

33.3 (35)

38.7 (69)

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