Bronco Beat

Boise State offense report: McNichols, benched for fumble, came back ‘hungrier’

Each week, we’ll take a look at the Boise State football team’s offense and defense in separate posts. I’ll post the defense tomorrow.

Looking back: The Broncos scored 55 points and gained 705 yards, the fourth-most in school history, Oct. 31 at UNLV. Quarterback Brett Rypien set Mountain West and Boise State freshman records with 469 passing yards (35-for-52 with two TDs) while not allowing a sack or committing a turnover. Tailback Jeremy McNichols (122 rushing yards) and wide receivers Thomas Sperbeck (163 receiving yards) and Chaz Anderson (106 receiving yards) contributed 100-yard performances and the tight ends had a big day.

Over the past two games, the Broncos have scored on 15 of 24 drives (62.5 percent). They haven’t allowed a sack and have committed two turnovers, both on fumbles.

“It’s all really coming together for us and we need to keep that going,” junior right guard Steven Baggett said.

Looking forward: The Broncos host New Mexico on Saturday — a team that allowed them to score 60 points and gain 658 yards last year in Albuquerque. But the Lobos are much-improved on defense, as evidenced by their 14-13 win last week against Utah State. The most the Lobos have allowed this season is 40 points (to Tulsa). They hold opponents to 4.4 yards per carry and have recorded 24 sacks.

“They’ll try to get you messed up from doing your thing with all their unique blitzes,” Baggett said.

Player to watch: Coaches benched McNichols for one series in the UNLV game after he lost a fumble inside the Broncos’ 10-yard line in the second quarter and the Rebels scooped the ball for an easy touchdown. McNichols had nine carries for 13 yards at halftime; he responded with 13 carries for 109 yards in the second half — for his fourth straight 100-yard outing.

“Everybody’s got to value the football and there’s a value that’s placed on it and we all know it,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said. “... If that’s not a high priority, then somebody else is going to get the opportunity to show how he prioritizes the football. He bounced back well.”

The fumble was McNichols’ first since the season opener against Washington and the first he has lost all year. He has handled the ball 189 times this season, including rushes, catches and kickoff returns.

“Fumbling ... it hurts, man,” McNichols said. “It’s like giving up everything. The team is determined for you to hold onto the ball. You’ve got the organization in your hands. I take that really personally if it goes on the ground. I wanted to show my team I could bounce back. I came back hungrier.”

Notes and quotes from OC Eliah Drinkwitz:

— On McNichols (1,025 yards from scrimmage and 17 TDs this season) and Kelsey Young (381 rushing yards, six TDs this season) as a tandem: “We just feel really good about those two guys. They’ve performed well and understand protections. They’re playing at a high level. We’re not trying to rock the boat too much.”

— On New Mexico’s defense: “They’re really good. They pressure a lot. We faced a pressure team like this a few games ago and it gave us some real issues. That always flashes in my mind when I see that much pressure and that much diversity on defense.”

— On the Mountain Division race: “At the end of the season, everybody shows their cards. Then we determine stuff.”

— On the offensive line: “I feel good about where they’re at and the way they played last week. ... I thought those guys played probably their best game of the year as a collective group two weeks ago against UNLV. ... It’s been an interesting season with all the different lineup changes we’ve had to make and all the things we’ve had to work through. We’re finally getting into a little groove and hopefully we’ll continue to do that for the last three games.”

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Our weekly live chats will be at 11 a.m. Thursday this week and next week at IdahoStatesman.com.

OFFENSE

BSU

NEW MEXICO

Scoring (FBS rank)

39.9 (14)

28.1 (71)

Total offense

483.3 (24)

365.2 (93)

Rushing

181.7 (52)

235.4 (13)

Passing

301.7 (20)

129.8 (122)

Turnovers lost

16 (83)

12 (35)

3rd-down conversion

40.6 (58)

36.7 (93)

DEFENSE

BSU

NEW MEXICO

Scoring (FBS rank)

18.3 (T-17)

26.3 (63)

Total defense

290.1 (7)

407.9 (73)

Rushing

83.4 (4)

194.8 (96)

Passing

206.7 (47)

213.1 (54)

Turnovers gained

20 (10)

16 (43)

3rd-down conversion

33.3 (30)

43.0 (99)

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