Photo via Pam Davis

Halfway Home: Mid Season Review of the Broncos

Familiar faces, heart check plays, and more late starts. Hard to imagine, isn’t it Boise State fans? Saturday’s match-up with Colorado State was the halfway checkpoint of the 2015 football season.

There are many story lines for this team that can easily take the headline “theme of the year.” From welcoming Chris Petersen back to Boise, to the debut of the talented freshman Brett Rypien. Boise State never seizes to disappoint to keep their fan base on the edge of their seats with plenty of topics to debate among friends and enemies alike.

As we have come to the halfway point of the regular season, it is time to dish out thoughts about the 2015 Boise State Bronco football team.

At 5-1 (2-0 in conference play), this is just about as planned as what the Broncos wanted for this season.  Most fans want that NY6 bowl bid, but this team has made it clear that winning a Mountain West title and getting to any bowl game is always the goal.

So how does Boise State fare halfway through the season? Well here’s what we’ve observed so far.

What We Expected

Very suffice to say that the Bronco’s defense is nothing short of tremendous. Take away a couple of deep heaves from BYU, and there really isn’t a weakness to this squad. With Donte Deayon and Darian Thompson battling for the INT crown, and the defensive line as deep as they are, Boise State’s defense is the class of the Mountain West as well as one of the best in the entire country.

The WR group took a couple of games, but has now shown just how deep they are and how they’re able to make a play out of almost nothing on offense. Thomas Sperbeck has finally become the go to receiver with Shane Williams-Rhodes and Chaz Anderson giving him decent support.

Surprise, Surprise!

It might be offensive to Bronco fans if Brett Rypien isn’t mentioned as the biggest surprise of the season. Heavily regarded as a very talented QB, Rypien started the season on the bench and looked destined to redshirt his freshman season. But a broken ankle to Ryan Finley changed that plan. Fans and media knew Rypien had skills, but no one can keep a straight face and say they expected this caliber of play. From Idaho State to now, Rypien has shown unbelievable leadership and skills to rejuvenate the offense for the Broncos.

But how about some love for Jeremy McNichols? Not only has McNichols put on extra muscle to handle the blows that he has taken for this year (i.e. his collision against Colorado State), but his running has drastically improved from last year. McNichols has not only become the featured RB for the Broncos, but is challenging for the title as the best RB in the Mountain West.

You Need To Improve

As great as the offense has improved since the beginning of the season, there is slight concern to how many times opposing teams have been able to get to the QB. While there hasn’t been many recorded sacks on Rypien, there has been heavy pressure during play that should have fans and coaches concerned as to how many times they see their QB on the ground during the play. The Broncos offensive line has been regarded as the best O-line in the Mountain West, and that is still true, but it is an absolute must they they protect the quarterback as we transition into the latter half of the season.

It hasn’t happened very often, but the defense has given up a big play here and there, especially on 3rd and 4th down situations.  It also seems to happen at crucial moments of the game.  This defense is too good to not be locked down at all times and give opponents less momentum and help.

One more note to the offense. When the defense gives you a turnover, CAPITALIZE on the possession.  Even with an improved offense, there have been multiple occasions that the offense turns a turnover into zero points.  This ranks right up there as a pet peeve for the coaches.

Get Used To Staying Up Late

Fans can complain all they want about these late start games for the Broncos, but they’re not going away anytime soon.  While times for Wyoming and New Mexico have not been announced yet, chances are high that these games will be yet another late start kickoff.  Air Force is already slated for a late start, and these other two home games are grounds to have the same fate.

It’s all about revenue. Boise State gets money for every home game on ESPN’s networks. They do not care what time slot they get. However, bowl commissioners will care if they see patches in the stadium on TV when the home team is nationally ranked. All the talk of stadium expansion should be halted until Boise State can sell out all its home game for AT LEAST one season. That isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Easy Sailing? Don’t Bet On It

It’s very easy to look at the rest of the Bronco’s schedule and think that there won’t be too much of a challenge left for them, but don’t be assuming so soon.  Next week’s short prep for Utah State in Logan won’t be any cake walk. Fortunately, Utah State is in a similar situation.  Make no mistake though, Utah State will put up a challenge for the Broncos not seen since the first two games of the season.

The Broncos have yet to figure out the triple option offense and they will face two teams that run it in New Mexico and Air Force.  Even if the games are in Boise, the Broncos have historicaly had trouble with teams that run this offense.  The Lobos gave the Broncos a barn burner of a game last year. Air Force? Well, that’s self-explanatory.

With all Mountain West teams gunning for the Broncos, and with other schools vying to dethrone Boise State as the team of the Non-Power Five conferences this season, there’s plenty of moments that have yet to unfold that will have Bronco fans either going haywire or rejoicing.  Expect for both to happen.

And expect the Broncos to continue with the same attitude: treating each week as a chance to go 1-0 and following their motto: Be The Best.


About Tyler Bates

Tyler Bates
Some may know him as TB, but his full name is Tyler Bates to be formal. Tyler hails his childhood days just down the road from Boise in Twin Falls. Many Bronco fans may recall him as the "straw hat guy" as he wore it for much of his time during bball games leading The Corral student section at Boise State. Since then he has graduated with a degree in Social Sciences and still spends his football home game days on the field with the marketing crew. When he's not working his day job or talking about and watching sports, you'll find him either on a long run or bike ride, skiing, or playing soccer.

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