As BC prepares for their bowl matchup with the Boise State Broncos, we took some time to talk about their team with One Bronco Nation Under God writer Drew Roberts. Please check it out and make sure to visit their site!
BCI: Obviously this biggest name BC fans need to know about is quarterback Brett Rypien. What makes him dangerous, and do you see him as an NFL caliber QB?
OBNUG: Well, I think he’s an NFL caliber QB but I also thought Kellen Moore deserved to be a first-rounder...so my scouting goggles MIGHT be a little fogged up with blue and orange. I think what makes Rypien dangerous is his accuracy. His 67.3% completion rate this year is the highest of his career and he hasn’t been padding that percentage with what most call “high percentage” throws...he has been throwing downfield early and often and his placement this year has been in the “dime” range. He’s always had a live arm, but in previous years he’d had three overthrows for every one that was on target. This year that ratio is flipped.
BCI Other than Rypien, who are some offensive weapons BC fans should know about.
OBNUG: Running Back Alexander Mattison is a workhorse back that seems to get better and better as the season progresses. Early O-line woes the last two seasons made Mattison really fight to get his yardage, but he still managed to piece together back-to-back 1,000+ yard campaigns. If one were to observe how often Mattison was hit in the backfield...that would be more impressive. Boise State also has some good receivers who can get open and stretch the field. Mr. Consistency is probably senior Sean Modster. He’s not a matchup nightmare with his diminutive size, but he finds soft spots in coverage and Rypien often finds him when they need some chain movement. The most dangerous wideout we’ve had this year is junior John Hightower, who has a lankier frame and the wheels to get behind coverages. He was nursing a foot injury the last month of the season but Bronco fans are hoping he’ll be ready to go for the bowl.
BCI: Boise State is 22nd in the country in rushing defense, who will be the stars that stop AJ Dillon?
OBNUG: With Leighton Vander Esch wrecking stuff in the league, the Boise State run defense has been a bit hit and miss and prone to giving up some homeruns in games. That said, they don’t often break numerous times in the same game, so I guess that’s good? Freshman NT Scale Igiehon and Sonatane Lui are both stout defenders in the middle who are good at closing running lanes before they get too big. LBs Tyson Maeva and Ezekiel Noa have been fairly stout in run coverage (Noa has only started a couple of games) and Boise State’s “STUD” ends can really crash on the RB—especially senior Jabril Frazier.
BCI: Bryan Harsin, many BC fans may not know much about him. Can you give a short primer on his tenure at Boise St?
OBNUG: It’s been a mixed bag. He had EXTREMELY big shoes to fill when Chris Petersen left for Washington, so I think the bar for success might be set a tad too high. He’s won two outright league titles since 2014 and was a missed PAT from winning another this year. If you look at Harsin’s win totals, there really isn’t much to scoff at...his FLOOR since being in Boise is 9 wins and he’s taken Boise State’s recruiting to a different level (https://www.sbnation.com/college-football-recruiting/2018/12/19/18148542/boise-state-recruiting-2019). Still, his teams do tend to lose focus from time to time and lose to a team they really shouldn’t, so I think if you go searching for naysayers, that would probably be their knock. An uncharacteristic loss here or there is expected most places, but Boise State won damn near every game they were favored in under Petersen, so it may be taking fans a bit of time to reset expectations.
BCI: How has the season progressed so far for Boise State and how do you feel about the outcome so far? Are you excited about this matchup?
OBNUG: The season was a real rollercoaster. The Broncos sort of laid an egg in their first “statement’ game of the year in Stillwater (again, largely because of special teams failings) and then a deluge of injuries started to hit, negating a lot of the experience they thought they’d be able to rely on with the return of so many defensive starters...and I’m talking “team’s leading tackler” x2 going down with season-enders, not “backup punter has turf toe” type injuries. By the time the Broncos lost at home to San Diego State (a team in a definite down year), many had written the team off...but they again rebounded and won out in the regular season to reach the MWC title game (defeating two ranked opponents along the way). The manner in which they lost in their rubber match with Fresno State for the title was a bitter pill, but it felt like the Broncos overcame a lot this season to even be there and I think the fans enjoyed getting to the 10 win mark more because of it. Sure, there were many who thought 12-0 was attainable, but the quick gut checks made fans more appreciative in a weird way. Think of it this way...when “this just isn’t our year” sentiments still yield 10 wins, you gotta find a little perspective. This is something Boise State fans aren’t known for.
With that in mind, I don’t think the Broncos could’ve asked for a much better matchup. UCF made sure the NY6 bowl was off the table for the MWC title winner and the MWC tie-ins leave enough to be desired that many thought we’d be playing a MAC or Conference-USA team some where...possibly even on our home field (where they haven’t played in a bowl sin 2005 against a familiar foe). Having the opportunity to play a P5 school in a fertile recruiting area AND avenge a decade old loss? Sign me up!
BCI: Prediction time, what are you thinking?
OBNUG: Toughie. The 2016 team slept walked into their bowl game after a disappointing end to their season and got boat-raced by a not-that-great Baylor team...then last season, the sky-high MWC champ Bronco team went to Vegas and put it to a pretty-good Oregon team. This year, there is a mixture of pride and anger about how the season ended so take a guess about whether this team is fired up or flat. Harsin seems to generally get up for these types of games, so I think they’ll be fine but BC definitely poses some matchup problems that aren’t easily remedied. A focused Broncos team wins this one 28-21. An unfocused Broncos team...well, I’ll just be glad to be surrounded by so much Egg Nog.