Boise State & Virginia duke it out on The Blue – Bronco back in town

The History Report

When one looks down the 2017 Boise State football schedule, they might find that the Broncos play two power five teams. The first one, a night time game in Pullman against the Washington State Cougars. The second, an evening game in Boise against the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Broncos and Cavaliers don’t have much history against each other. However, Virginia did play in the 2004 M.P.C. Computers bowl in Boise. In that game, the Cavaliers lost in overtime to the Fresno State Bulldogs.

The two football teams have only played one time which saw the Broncos dominate 56-14 in Charlottesville.

The 2015 match-up featured freshman quarterback in Brett Rypien throw for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Bronco defense forced 5 Cavalier turnovers. The Bronco offense, on the other hand, had none.

Now heading into the 2017 edition, both teams are 2-1 overall. As they prepare for their game approximately 2,400 miles away, the Cavaliers will look to even up their 0-1 deficit to the Broncos.

The Return of Bronco Mendenhall

Many fans might recognize the name for the former BYU head coach. Others might laugh at the relation of his first name with the Boise States mascot.

No matter the recognition, Bronco Mandenhall has returned to the Blue. The man has more history with the Broncos than the school he coaches for.

In his tenure at BYU, Mendenhall defeated the Broncos twice. However, none of these were on the Blue, but rather in Provo.

Since becoming a head coach, Mendenhall is currently 2-2 vs. the Broncos.


The Cavaliers’ quarterback, Kurt Benkert, ranks third for total passing yards in the ACC. He ranks only behind last season’s Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and former Bronco Ryan Finley.

Before coming to Virginia, Benkert played at East Carolina. There, he ran the Air Raid offense. He’s comfortable in that system and throwing the ball. However, the Cavalier offense depends on its running game as well.

Benkert is known for his arm and thus, the Cavaliers will throw the ball. However, they feature two running backs in junior Jordan Ellis and senior Daniel Hamm.

The Cavilers have been consistent in their balanced offense. So far this season, their plays have been about 60% passing. This will keep Leighton Vander Esch and the stingy Bronco defense on its toes.

Benkert is also known for running on occasion too.

The Bronco Defense vs. Virginia

Unlike the week before, the Broncos have more time to prepare for their match up against the Cavaliers. Going from a rushing focused offense in New Mexico to a more balanced style offense would be difficult for most defenses.

No matter the challenge, the Bronco defense has played lights out so far this season.

In the three games they’ve played, besides overtime, they’ve allowed only four touchdowns.

The Cavaliers have scored 11 total offensive touchdowns this season.

It will be up to the dynamic duo of Vander Esch and sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce to leave off where they did against New Mexico, and lead their defensive unit.


Defensively, the Cavilers boast the top tackler and sack leader in the ACC. His name, senior linebacker and All-American Micah Kiser.

Kiser’s accolades include 36 total tackles and 5 sacks. The past two games Kiser recorded 14 and 15 tackles respectively.

Alongside him, junior linebacker Malcolm Cook is not far behind. Recording 23 total tackles and a sack himself, Cook makes the Cavalier linebacking unit one of the best in the ACC.

In the secondary, the Cavaliers return All-American safety Quin Blanding. Blanding has started since his freshman season in 2014. In all three full seasons with the Cavilers, Blanding has maintained an average of 10 tackles a game. Pair his experience with his in-game stats, and collectively, the Cavalier defense poses a threat to the Broncos.

The Bronco offense vs. Virginia

Virginia vs. Indiana 9-9-17:

The Virginia defense is not to be taken lightly. Returning two All-Americans in Kiser and Blanding, the Virginia defense will be a tough task for the Broncos.

However, in their game against Indiana, their defensive unit showed both a strength and weakness:

  1. Getting to the QB– Kiser leades the team in sacks. Thus, defensive coordinator Nick Howell must design various blitzes and plays to get to the QB. No matter who starts at QB for the Broncos, Rypien or Cozart, they will need to adjust to Virginia’s scheme(s).
  2. Letting the QB Run– In the video, back-up QB for Indiana Peyton Ramsey scrambles and scores from about thirty yards out. When Cozart plays, whether he starts or not, he needs to use his legs to achieve yardage for the Bronco offense.

Because football is a team sport, all offensive members of the squad must come out to play against Virginia. It will be up to leaders such as Cedrick Wilson, Jake Roh and Alexander Mattison to step up and control the game’s offensive tempo.

What to Wear at the Game?


About Darrek Harris

Darrek Harris
Darrek was born and raised in Boise, ID. Currently, he has an associates degree in English from the College of Western Idaho. He plans to pursue a bachelors degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. He enjoys sports in many fashions: playing, cheering, and coaching. Bleed Blue, Go Broncos, Amen!

Check Also

Boise State Moves Up To 19th; How They Can Move Further Up This Weekend

Boise State’s win over Colorado State managed to inch the Broncos up only one spot …