This Week at the Diggity’s – Offseason Episode #1 (Into the Abyss)

Sorry about the lack of a column last week. I got caught up in holiday festivities and basically that’s my only excuse. It’s been a busy week for Bronco Nation. A Fiesta Bowl win, Jay Ajayi leaving for the NFL (we knew that was coming), & Mike Sanford not leaving to be the OC at Ohio State (thank goodness).  Now we wait. We’re in the great void between the end of the season and Letter of Intent day.  Hold on, Bronco fans.  We’ll be ok.

Great job to the Broncos for winning the Fiesta Bowl. I had no doubts but I was worried just a little bit

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The wifey and I decided to catch the premiere of “Worst Cooks in America” There is a guy on the show that has six fingers on his left hand. I tweeted about it. I wasn’t rude or anything but that guy favorited my tweet. I don’t know if I’m horrified or not… I woke up Sunday morning and heard that Stuart Scott had died. I don’t really have an inspirational story as to why he meant so much to me but I honestly bawled my eyes out. It hurt me like it did when Tony Gwynn died…  I wouldn’t be a good chef because my knife skills are dangerous. Not to others. To me. I’m surprised I have fingers left… We tried quinoa for the first time. It looks kind of odd and tastes like nothing. So it’s obviously healthy… It looks like someone has started a petition on Change.org to change the state bird of Oregon to the mallard duck. The beaver is already their state animal. I wonder when TVCC will want the chukar to be considered… Jimmy Fallon had puppies predict who the National Championship Game winner would be. One of the pups peed in the Ohio State bowl of food. I think, by default, Oregon wins (the majority of puppies chose UO)… Degree has a “dry spray” now. What exactly is a dry spray? That seems to me like its nothing but a can of air with a scent. You’re paying for nothing, people!… I’m not the biggest Oregon fan (or not one at all) but I think they are too fast tempo-wise for Ohio State. I think the Buckeyes used all their juju to beat ‘Bama. The Ducks win the Natty, 45-20… Two of my favorite shows are back on now, “Archer” and “Portlandia”. The humor is absolutely different on both shows but I appreciate it just the same.

I usually use the song of the week to suggest how we should feel.  I think the song this week is a pretty good representation of that. We’ll make it through the offseason just fine.  Only 4 months until spring ball.

I’ll try to keep a consistent weekly column going even though football season is over.  We do have our basketball teams going and both should be doing well.  There should be Bronco news abound, right?  Have a great week.  If you can’t wait to get some Diggity’s vitriol, follow us on Twitter:
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This Week at the Diggity’s – Pre-Fiesta Version (It’s Spelled Like Noel But Sounds Like Nole)

We’re almost there!  There are only 4 or 5 days (depending on how you look at it) until the Fiesta Bowl. Hopefully, your Christmas was wonderful and you were distracted from the wait. I know I was; for a day.  And to distract you even more, enjoy this week’s column.

fiestaSo I had to work today (Sunday, December 21st). That means I didn’t watch any NFL football for the first time this season. I’ll make up for it with bowl games this week….We are going to have prime rib for Christmas and, in an effort to find a good one, the Mrs. found a place called Long’s Meat Market.  Are you serious with that name? That has to be on purpose….Went to pick up the Mrs at work and there was some crazy dude screaming so much she wouldn’t even come outside. Eugene is bat-poop crazy for reals….So my big mistake of the day was to go to Costco. It was a crazy mix of humanity. I don’t recommend doing anything like that during the holiday season. Shop online!…So, Kellen Moore is riding the bench in Detroit but Logan Thomas is going to start this weekend. It seems to me that there is a conspiracy against the best quarterback never to step on a regular season playing field. #FreeKellen….As a hip hop fan as far back as 1984, I have to say I know maybe 15 of the artists on Rolling Stones Top 40 Rap Albums of 2014. That’s disturbing to me. I’m starting to not be cool….On Christmas Eve, my job had me come in at 5 am. I wasn’t quite sure what they needed an hour and a half earlier. I figured it out though. They wanted me to want to leave earlier so much more than the previous 2 days….It’s weird to have Christmas away from our families and outside of the state of Idaho. I don’t think either of us have done that. The only time I did was when I was in the army….Shaquille O’Neal was a great basketball, he’s a decent studio analyst, and a not-so-good actor. With all those things, I still don’t think his name should be so prevalent. How many college football players are named “Shaquille”? Too many….I love seeing the little blips about the Broncos on Twitter & Instagram.  It makes me feel like I’m in Arizona with them. Maybe one day I’ll get the bowl experience (besides all the times I went to the Humanitarian/Crucial.com Bowl).

I like all types of music and I kind of  wanted to be a bit different this week.  My favorite song of all time is the song of the week.

Have a great New Year’s Eve and day.  Be safe.  Enjoy the Fiesta Bowl.  Broncos love Fiestas!

Attack The Opponent: Arizona Wildcats (Fiesta Edition)

Hey, remember that time that Boise State got invited to their third Fiesta Bowl vs. Arizona? Yeah, that was pretty neat. Congratulations! You know the entire history of BSU and UA playing football against each other!

Just because these two teams have never played, does not mean there are no common threads. Former Boise State DL Jeff Worthy is now starting for the Wildcats, after a year of community college after being dismissed from the Broncos squad by Chris Petersen in early 2013. Jared Tevis, younger brother of Boise State standout linebacker Aaron Tevis is currently a linebacker at Arizona. One of Arizona’s best wide receivers, Cayleb Jones, played for Coach Harsin during his time at Texas. Both teams run a wild, fun to watch, prolific offense. Both teams are capable of playing shut down defense. Both teams have quarterbacks capable of moving with the ball, and defensive players who can change a game with a well-timed pick.

The Fiesta Bowl has been good to Boise State in the past, but this game feels like a weird match-up. The only other team we’ve played that runs a 3-3-5 defense is San Diego State, and after a couple of years of losing to the Aztecs, turned it around this season to put 399 yards and 5 TD’s on them. SDSU is not as big or fast as Arizona.

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The one common opponent the Wildcats and the Broncos share is Nevada. Arizona held the Wolf Pack to 28 points and put up 507 yards of offense in the third week, while Boise State allowed 46 points but rolled up 570 yards of offense in their week 6 win. The Wildcats might be an 11-2 Pac 12 team that was only second to Oregon, but they are beatable. Their red shirt freshman QB, Anu Solomon has been fighting a foot/ankle sprain for the last couple months, and its easy to see that their offensive production has fallen off some in that time.

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The best bet for Boise State is for Coach Caldwell’s boys on the D-Line to pull an ’07 and smash Arizona’s bigger offensive line in the teeth until they can get through to really bother Solomon in to passing the ball. His completion percentage is 58% on the season, and if he isn’t more accurate than that in this bowl, Boise States DB’s will have themselves a field day, complete with a track meet to the end zone after getting some picks.

Arizona’s run game has been inconsistent at best, but is capable of putting up serious numbers against questionable run defenses. The Broncos have had issues stopping the run, especially anything option-related. Arizona’s offense definitely is option-y, along with having no-huddle speed. This could be a problem.

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What do Ole Miss, CSU, Air Force, New Mexico, and Fresno have in common? Strong rush games. Air Force and New Mexico run a traditional option attack and both pushed Boise State to the edge and beyond. Forcing Arizona to take to the air or putting on a run defense show unlike anything we’ve seen since the first 4 games of the season is an absolute must for the Broncos to win this Fiesta.

Solid special teams play, limiting turnovers, all of those things apply to both squads. The Cats do turn the ball over less overall, they also didn’t have a 7 TO debacle as an outlier that’s messing up the average. They are more heavily penalized than the Broncos though, averaging 63 ypg in penalties over Boise’s 56. Basically, the little stuff is a draw.

On offense, Boise State needs to just stay consistent. They did not have a good second half vs. Fresno in the MWC championship game, which made a lot of people (including me) very nervous going in to bowl selection weekend. The champ game was the worst yardage performance by the Bronco offense since UConn.

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The conspiracy theory is nice though. You know, the one Bronco Nation has consoled themselves with for weeks – that Hars and Sanford closed the playbook as to not give our bowl opponent anything. It couldn’t be Boise’s offensive line giving their best imitation of a pasta strainer and allowing Fresnah’s d to stop the run at the line over and over and over and over… nope! That definitely wasn’t it.

The upcoming game is not going to be like the MWC championship game. It won’t be like Ole Miss either. Arizona might be the bigger, faster, Power 5 blah blah team, but got stomped the last time they set foot on a football field. Boise State has done nothing but win since October 4th. Taking a butt kicking from Oregon after beating them the first time and then having a month to think about it has to be rough. Of course, it could also be said that the Broncos cruised through an undemanding MWC schedule and is about to get a rude awakening at the hands of the Cats. The same thing we heard in 07, and again in 2010. Those games turned out okay.

Let’s be real here for a second. This time last year, we figured we’d be lucky to win 8 games again. The guys have not put together a perfect season. What they have done is re-established Bronco football as a program that still can’t be overlooked by any team, regardless of conference affiliation. Boise State is playing a tough opponent in Arizona, one that doesn’t match up all that well. However, the Broncos are motivated, and ready to give the Wildcats everything they’ve got. I couldn’t be more happy, or more proud of what those guys have done. Now it’s time to finish this. #1more.

It’s Fiesta Time!

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One More

A year ago, the word pee-gate hadn’t yet entered Boise State lexicon. Coach Petersen had left, and the current senior class was trying to hold down the fort going into to what would ultimately be a rather lacking performance versus Oregon State in Hawaii. Bronco Nation was in turmoil, obsessively tracking a coaching search online and hoping for the AD to make the right choice.

12 short months later, after a year of unfathomable growth (recruiting victories, the dawn of the social media era in Boise, the program opening up to people outside of the complex, allowing fans to really feel like part of things, and the never ending march of improvement during the season), we’re headed back to have ourselves a little Fiesta vs. the Arizona Wildcats.

Does Boise State have some issues to take care of? Sure does. Will it all get worked through and improved, just like the team has done with every other challenge in front of them this season? Confidence is easy to find on a day like today in Boise. Fiesta Bowl trophies cure a lot of ills.

Just like the Mountain West Championship, the opponent has any bearing on how this Fiesta Bowl is going to go. The Broncos have a month to prepare for an Arizona team that might be so demoralized by what happened in the Pac 12 champ game and by ending up in a “no-win bowl,” that they’ll under prepare and be taught a lesson in Glendale.

Grant Hedrick has grown up in front of us this season. He has demonstrated his ability to bounce back, whether from monster hits in the Ole Miss game or all the turnovers against Air Force to being the player of the game in the MWC championship game and the most accurate passer in the country. Jay Ajayi has proven himself as one of the greatest running backs in Boise State history, with great potential to start on Sundays. Matt Miller acted like a grown man through adversity that has broken lesser people and also will likely be playing in the league for a lucky team. The offensive line did a great job of playing big. Rees Odihambo had some truly memorable blocking and Marcus Henry stepped up to be another in the line of excellent Boise State centers. Shane Williams-Rhodes has played like a dangerous man and given us the gift of screen grabs from the sideline of the SDSU game. Jeremy McNichols + corners has given Bronco Nation enough joy to power the north pole through the holiday season.

Boise State’s defense has also done great things. Kamalei Correa has TEN SACKS on the season. 8 different Broncos have forced fumbles. Darian Thompson has seven interceptions! Donte Deayon has five! Tanner Vallejo got 42 tackles! Hell, #DeadCenterDan had three! The defensive line played very well against the run game for most of the season. If Boise State shows up at the Fiesta Bowl playing the type of defense that they did in the first half against Fresno, well, Arizona is going to be a bunch of sad kitties. Coach Yates and his crew have exceeded expectations, and truly proven themselves to be right back in that vein of shutdown Bronco defense more often than not this season.

What does a third Fiesta Bowl mean? It means playing for pride. Taking down yet another P5 school who thinks the matchup is a no-win situation. It means more hardware in Boise. It means recruiting bumps and enrollment bumps and all of those things that Boise State is going to have to do to keep moving forward.

It also means, definitively, that Boise State is greater than one man. Bronco Nation is taught this lesson over and over again. Coach Harsin knows it. His assistants know it. The alumni know it, the players know it, and Bronco Nation’s newest members are coming to understand. Boise State isn’t about flash and tricks and gimmicks. It’s not one coach, it’s all of them. The man who grew up here, played optimist ball on The Blue, fought and clawed his way for everything he’s gotten, was vindicated for believing in this place last night. All of us were. It wasn’t about Fresno. It’s not about Arizona. It’s not about Resource 5 vs. Power Program. What Boise State is about is belief in the ability to get better. To always improve. Doing the correct things, preparing the correct way, having a good mindset and working harder than everyone will pay off. Never flinch, never falter, and learn the lesson when failure happens. That is Boise. That is Idaho. That is the essence of this place.

Go Broncos. Bleed blue, and attack that future. This one is for all the Vizios.

The Great J-Train Robbery

Admit it, Mountain West Coaches and Select Media, Jay Ajayi is a victim of grand larceny.  That’s right, you robbed the J-Train.  And Jesse James  would have been proud of the way it was done.  You might think I’m just chock full of homerism but it’s more than that.  It’s a record-breaking running back at a school that has a history of awesome running backs.  There aren’t any Bradley Van Pelts in Boise State history.

The thing is, Jay is everything to this team.  And that was before the beginning of the season.  He knew that there would be pressure on him.  Think about it: a new coaching staff with a new offense,  a generally untested quarterback that seemed to fold in big games, and besides Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes, young receivers that were a mystery. That right there is a recipe for disaster without a running back like Jay Ajayi.  And what did Jay do? He showed up. Consider this:

  • 77 more touches than last year
  • Despite all the touches, he’s been a sturdy, every down back
  • Surpassed last year’s touchdown total by 9 (24 rushing and 4 receiving)
  • In the team’s 2 losses, he averaged 150 yards from scrimmage
  • Has 580 yards in the 4th quarter
  • He even has 2 tackles

It’s pretty evident that Jay has the credentials to be the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year.  For anyone to say different would  be ludicrous because it’s not me being a homer, it’s the black-and-white facts.

I am not trying to demean Garrett Grayson’s season.  It was one that he and all Colorado State fans could be proud of.  There were two games, just like Jay, that he couldn’t lead them to victory.  One was against a common opponent, Air Force. The other was against Jay and the Broncos.  I’m just putting that out there!

So, there it is.  I think Jay Ajayi should have been the MWC OPOY.  It’s opinion based on fact.  Is there anything we can do about it?  Nope.  But know this:

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