The Boise State Broncos hope to find their winning ways again when they take to the road to face the Nevada Wolf Pack.
True tests for a football program lie in how they bounce back from a loss. The Boise State Broncos will get such a chance for the second time in 2018.
A tough loss at home isn’t an easy thing to swallow, especially when it occurs on the fabled blue turf. The loss at home to the San Diego State Aztecs was the only the fourth time since 2014 that the Broncos have lost at home.
The Broncos bounced back after an early season to loss to Oklahoma State — doing so after a bye week — when they went on the road to defeat the Wyoming Cowboys. The road is once again where the Broncos will get to hopefully cure what ails them when they take on the Nevada Wolf Pack (3-3, 1-1).
Nevada is coming off a 21-3 loss at home to Fresno State last week.
Many of Boise State’s struggles were on the offensive side of the ball in the loss to the Aztecs. They will get a chance to get back on track this week. Nevada’s defense is improving, but is giving up 256.2 passing yards and 34 points per game.
Outside of one run late in the game, the Boise State defense played with their backs against the wall on multiple occasions and held the Aztecs to field goals. They were without David Moa and DeAndre Pierce in that game and will be without both for the remainder of 2018 due to injuries.
There’s plenty to correct from last week and the Broncos have the system to do just that. Here are three players to keep an eye on.
The season’s first four games couldn’t have gone much better for Boise State Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien. The senior hadn’t thrown a pick and was generally on the top of his game.
An underwhelming game coupled with a stingy San Diego State defense brought Rypien back down to earth.
While he and the Broncos will face a similar style defense from Nevada, Rypien and the receivers should have a much better game. In last season’s 41-14 victory at home over Nevada, Rypien was 20-27, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 15 yards.
Despite the struggles against San Diego State, Rypien is still having a fine senior season. He’s completed 66.2% of his passes for 1559 yards, 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
There has been much said about the running game of Boise State in 2018. Packages for Chase Cord and wide receivers carrying the ball have found nice gains. However, it is junior running back Alexander Mattison where all eyes have turned.
Mattison has totaled 347 rushing yards in 2018, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He has scored six touchdowns on the ground.
Part of the problem is the offensive line getting push and creating running lanes. Too often this season the Mattison has been tackled in the backfield before he even gets a chance to make a move. There were signs of life from the ground game in the second-half against the Aztecs as Mattison had carries that picked up between four and six yards.
And, to be fair, the Broncos have also faced their share of tough run-defenses. Nevada’s defense won’t make things a whole lot easier as they allow 133 rushing yards per game. But I think Mattison and the offensive line are fired up and due for a big game, perhaps even giving Mattison his second 100-yard game of 2018.
Pierce, a junior, has been a mainstay in the defensive backfield since he was a freshman. Now it will be up to Tyreque Jones, a redshirt freshman, to step up and fill the safety spot vacated by the injured Pierce.
Jones made the start last week, collecting four tackles. He has played in all five games this season, totaling ten tackles.
It will be no easy feat replacing the team’s leading tackler in Pierce. Jones has done a solid job and has plenty of secondary help to pick up where Pierce left off. Nevada likes to run the ball, with both their running backs and quarterback, so look for Jones to be heavily involved in the game action.
Boise State has done well, for the most part, in bouncing back in the game following loss. And this crew is too experienced and too talented to not take care of business on the road. And if they do, the three players mentioned above will play a large part in that.