Boise State Football Spring Preview

It seems like its been an eternity since Chris Petersen stunned #BroncoNation the morning of December 6th when it was announced that after years of speculation, he finally took another head coaching job. It only took a week for Bob Kustra and Mark Coyle to find their man to replace Pete, but it certainly didn’t feel that way to Broncos fans.

Since then lots has changed. Bryan Harsin and his young staff shocked Broncos fans by getting commitments from 4-star prospects Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Chase Blakley, showing everyone the kind of recruiting prowess and potential this staff has. Now that the recruiting games are somewhat over (at least for this recent class), the staff can finally pause their recruiting efforts to coach football! The Broncos hit the field for the first time under Harsin tomorrow morning, and unfortunately if you’re expecting a ton of news and updates from the local media, you will be a bit disappointed. Harsin is keeping things on the down low, possibly to keep the Broncos scheme anonymity intact until after the Ole Miss game.

Updates or no updates, the team will be practicing, and there is lots to sort out…..here are some things to keep an eye on this spring, and going forward into summer workouts and fall camp.

The QB “Battle” – It is natural that with a coaching change, every position is open for the taking. That said, Harsin and the coaches have made it clear that RS-Senior QB Grant Hedrick is the leader in the clubhouse. I know fans have a bad taste in their mouths about last season, and Grant was far from perfect, but he did some good things. Hedrick finished the 2013 season with a passing efficiency rating that ranked 23rd nationally at 150.0. Hedrick struggled with turnovers, often at bad times (ugh….that SDSU pick-6)…but 1825 passing yards, 22 total TDs, and 5 INTs in only 6 total starts isn’t exactly terrible either. Grant earned the right to be the “incumbent”. That said, nobody is guaranteed anything. Grant will have to fend off JC-transfer Tommy Stuart, who impressed fans with his highlight tape and has done nothing his entire life but exceed expectations. He won’t concede that starting spot without a fight. RS-Freshman Ryan Finley will attempt to compete as much as he can, but Harsin has warned that they’ll need to bring him along at a slower pace with Finley coming off of surgery. Put all that together, and the details suggest Hedrick will be a heavy favorite to win the job, but nonetheless fans will pay very close attention to the QBs come the spring game.

Will the future play-makers please stand up! – Jay Ajayi, Matt Miller, Shane Williams-Rhodes….fans know who the stars of today are on this Bronco offense. Jay and Shane however are already juniors and Matt Miller is a senior! The Broncos are in need of some future play-makers to step up and make a name for themselves. Unfortunately the RB depth behind Jay Ajayi is a little cluttered with Aaron Baltazar’s unfortunate departure (sigh). From Charles Bertoli, to Devan Demas, to Jack Fields, to Derrick Thomas…I swear all of these RBs have had bright spots, but none have solidified that #2 or #3 RB spot in the rotation much like Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper did behind Doug Martin. You can take your pick, all of them have talent. But someone needs to stand up behind Jay Ajayi and establish themselves.

The same can be said for the WR position. Matt Miller and SWR were awesome last season, but whoa boy does production fall off a statistical cliff after those two. The Broncos cannot continue to rely solely on these two in 2014, or 2015 will present some serious concerns at WR. Fortunately, there are lots of talented candidates waiting in the wings. A.J. Richardson is one of the more highly rated WRs to ever commit to Boise State. Tanner Shipley and Thomas Sperbeck both impressed during last August’s fall scrimmage. Troy Ware had some good moments last season sans fumble vs. Oregon State. Much like the RB spot, the talent is there….but who will step up? Junior Adams will have a fun time sorting through this crew. With SWR taking it easy coming back from surgery, the opportunity is there.

O-Line depth to be tested – Also noted in Chadd Cripe’s linked notes from the Statesmen is the fact that Rees Odhiambo will sit this spring out as a precautionary measure. Meaning Marcus Henry will be the only returning starter from 2013 to participate this spring. Travis Averill, Mario Yakoo, Steven Baggett, among others come into spring with some experience. This is a very talented group who will benefit from lots of reps this spring. Winning football games derives from how you play in the trenches. If the Broncos want to hit the ground running on offense in 2014, this O-Line unit will need to gel quickly.

Can Yates fix the Bronco Defense? – Joe Southwick this, Robert Prince that…..Grant Hedrick that, Robert Prince this…..talk about the offense all you like, the reason the Broncos struggled in 2013 is because the defense took a tremendous step backwards. The days of abusing opponents upfront and suffocating passing games under a dominant secondary appeared to be a thing of the past. Marcel Yates said it was hard to watch film of last season. LOL You’re telling us……everyone struggled. Freshman LBs Tanner Vallejo and Ben Weaver provide optimism, and inserting more depth with Joey Martarano coming into the fold is exciting. But this entire defensive unit sucked. No getting around it. The secondary has come under a ton of scrutiny from media and fans. Whether it was a scheme issue or talent issue is what we’ll begin to unravel this spring with Yates taking over. The introduction of stud recruit Dylan Sumner-Gardner and many redshirt corners like Dionza Blue and Cameron Hartsfield to name a few, should light a fire under this unit. Nobody’s spot is safe. The secondary battle, more than any other group, should be intense as Marcel begins to rebuild this unit. They know what happened last season was not satisfactory. Time to fix it.

The Broncos lose very few starters on defense going into spring. In fact, only two really. Unfortunately, those two are Demarcus Lawrence and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe. Outside of Armand Nance, nobody really has an inside track on the D-Line starting spots. Kamalei Correa, Gabe Perez, Beau Martin, among other DEs figure to fight for those spots. RS-Freshman DT Nick Terry was one of the most highly rated DTs Boise State has ever landed. Can he potentially be our next 4-year starter at DT? God I hope so. The Broncos desperately need play-makers at DT to stand up. Nance has been very good, but he cannot do it all himself. The Broncos need to be four deep. Can the likes of Taimatuia, Terry, Ash, etc. take that next step? To return to national prominence, the Broncos will need to recapture their dominant ways on the D-Line.

——————

Coach Harsin has challenged fans to break the 20,000 fans barrier at the spring game. The theme of this spring seems to be everyone needing to step up. The Broncos need young talent to step up at all positions, and the fans need to step up too. Coach Pete made it clear that things began to go stale here in Boise, even for him. The Broncos have every intention to kick this funk and fans need to do the same. We need to break that 20,000 barrier for the spring game and then attempt to sell-out every home game next fall. This is a team effort and we need to help this young team and staff as much as we can. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this 2014 Boise State football team. Lets start off things on the right note…

Go Broncos!!! #BleedBlue #Project20K

Rock Their Faces Off – How To Be A Better Basketball Fan

Photo via @CorralBoise

Earlier this week, the Bronco Men’s basketball team got handed a heartbreaking loss at The Pit at New Mexico. One thing that immediately stood out in relief to the game at The Pavilion Taco Bell Arena the weekend prior was the crowd participation and general antics of the fans.

At The Pit, Lobos fans stand until the opposing team scores their first basket. Their student section is loud and raucous, jumping around, chanting, yelling, and being obnoxious to opposing teams, doing things like booing a player every time they touch the ball for an entire game. Derrick Marks was their target Wednesday, and while he seemed to shrug it off, it was the talk of Bronco fans on Twitter all night. The rest of the crowd at The Pit is loud and crazy, and it makes for a truly difficult place to win for opposing teams.

After much discussion (thanks @janyewestt,  @mc0le, and @iamtbate), it was determined that Broncos fans, while doing a great job “Stuffing the Taco” as of late, are a little rusty with their basketball cheering skills. Can’t blame ‘em, the end of the Greg Graham era was painful, and we’re just now hitting a recovery stride as a fan base.

So, here are 10 tips for the newly converted hoops fans out there:

  1. At football games, we make it a point to be quiet while our guys are on offense. During basketball games, it’s key to make sure we are as quiet as we can get while our guys are at the free throw line. No chanting, no cheering…just silence. Free throws are hard enough without crowd distractions.
  2. When the other team is at the line though, get NASTY loud. Consider it the equivalent of a football 3rd and long. The more they miss, the better our guys have it out there. Not only do missed free throws mean fewer points, they also add a layer of indescribable frustration and can swing a game’s momentum.
  3. Students, these next two are for you. The Corral is right in front of the opposing bench. Get obnoxious during time outs – you can drown out their coach and make it difficult to draw up plays. Don’t be afraid to get personal – that dude with the ginger Kid and Play do that played for Utah State was just asking for the entire student section to be on him all the time.
  4. GET UP AND GET LOUD! Watch this and tell me it doesn’t look like a hell of a lot of fun. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHP8JYy0XmU The #1 complaint I hear at both football and basketball games are from fans who want to stand but get admonished by those around them to sit down. Unacceptable! (Extenuating circumstances happen though – if the person behind you is physically incapable of standing, than feel free to be nice and sit so they can see. If they’re just sitting there messing with their phone and acting disengaged…well, you know.)
  5. Bronco fans are very good at the one Boise! State! chant. However, there are lots more out there, and if the student section or cheerleaders start one, don’t feel silly to join in at the top of your lungs.
  6. Did a Bronco hit the deck for a hustle play like going after a loose ball or taking a charge? Reward him for it with the power of your voices!
  7. Did a Bronco just steal a ball, get a block, a rebound, hit a big shot, or get a nasty dunk? Reward them for that too.
  8. Mountain West refs are notoriously bad. Let ‘em know – booing isn’t illegal for a terrible call.
  9. Learn the lyrics to the fight song and sing along. Start here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPOlNdlKvz0
  10. Have fun and go nuts! My favorite moments and most special memories at Bronco Stadium are when it’s the loudest. Being inside that place is deafening at times, and Taco Bell Arena should be no different. Eight thousand screaming orange clad fans putting their hearts and lungs on the line to cheer on our players could be the difference between winning and losing with as close as the MWC is this season, and we want to give The Broncos the best shot we can.

 

There are several places across the country that have this basketball crowd thing down to a science. There is no reason that in the conference we are with the team we’ve got, that Boise State should be any different. Let’s make this place the hardest place to play north of San Diego State. So get to studying – the quiz will be on Saturday afternoon against SJSU at 4:05 PM. (If you won’t be joining, the game will be televised on Root Sports.) Let’s Stuff the Taco!

Step Into My Time Machine (Old BSU RB Video)

Once upon a time, I was given a great chance to intern with Boise State’s video department. During that time, I started to learn how to make highlight videos for the football team. Well, last night as I was looking through my old external hard-drive, I found this gem. My first ever video that was posted to BroncoSports.com. Thankfully I have learned a ton since then. But I thought it might be fun for fans to see this “classic” in all of it’s glory. Here is a video highlighting Ian Johnson, DJ Harper, and Jeremy Avery. But perhaps, the best part of this video is MC Hammer!

Introuducing the 2014 BTN Hall-of-Fame Inductees

Minter-HallAfter 156 votes were cast, the Blue Turf Nation is very excited to announce that Korey Hall, (62 votes & 40%) & Cedric Minter, (47 votes & 30%) are the newest Broncos inducted into the “BTN Fan Hall-of-Fame”. Easily two of the most important Broncos to ever play football at Boise State University. It is hard to argue the fans got it wrong. We will be building pages for Korey and Cedric and will let fans know when their page and place on our website is completed.

If you would like to see the final results of this years vote, you can see them below.
Thanks for voting, and we look forward to completing Korey and Cedric’s pages.

CM-KMPoll

Blue Turf Nation’s Tribute to Kellen Moore

Bryan Harsin says “embrace the past, attack the future”. With this tribute to Kellen Moore we are doing just that! Embracing the past with the greatest QB in college football history, while attacking the future with hopes for our future QB’s.

So, take a trip down memory lane, and relive some of Kellen’s great moments at Boise State.

No Need for 5 Keys- This Week it’s About the Seniors

Normally I would sit down and write about the “5 Keys” to the game, Boise State vs (insert opponent here). But this week, there is just no need. Not that New Mexico can’t beat Boise State, anything can happen… Just ask Fresno, (sorry had to do it). But tonight it is more NCAA Football: New Mexico at Boise Stateabout the 16 seniors who play their last game at home. No, this season did not go the way we had all hoped it would. But tonight, none of that matters. What matters tonight is that these men who dedicated their blood, sweat, tears, and lives to Boise State get to leave the way they came to the Blue. With excitement, celebration, and of course a win. This team has a chance to to end the season with another undefeated season on “The Blue”, a shot at another bowl game, and who knows if Wyoming pulls off the upset maybe a shot at the Mountain West Championship. No, this team did not compete for a BCS bowl this year. But if they can can protect “The Blue” one more time, and enter a bowl game things really aren’t that bad.

s091128_boise

Image Courtesy: usatoday.com

For each person, this class will present different memories. For myself, I have a couple that come to mind. First, I think of Kellen to Kirby, Moore to Moore, not a particular play, but just how much fun it was to watch those two play together when they did. It is a rare thing when you get to see family play together in college football. Even rarer, when those two players end up meaning so much to your program. For Kirby, I am sure it was and is not easy being Kellen’s “little” brother. But together, they forged a path that will likely never be recreated. Kirby was a part of the Fiesta Bowl, he had 4 catches that game, and for his career he has never had a season with less than 20 catches.

The Second memory that comes to mind is Gabe Linehan and his flexing of tattoos in Moscow. Gabe has had somewhat of a injury plagued, silent statistical career while at Boise State. However, few have been louder with their looks and energy when they put on the blue uniform. And when he played Idaho (a team his family is heavily connected to) he let that energy show in 2010. He had one 1 catch for 21 yards that also went for a touchdown. In that game he made his famous gesture showing off his “Wild One” tattoo which pays tribute to his father and former Vandal, Ron Linehan. Whether it was pre-game warmups where you can see Gabe headbanging in the huddle, or up in Moscow scoring a big touchdown. Gabe’s energy will always be something I remember.

With that, I leave you with this. There are no need for 5 Keys this week because in the end the Bronco’s should win easily. These seniors have one last chance at home to protect their sacred home-field. And no matter how you feel about this season as a whole, that is something pretty special. I hope if you read this, you have a chance to think back to your favorite memories with this group of seniors. GO BRONCOS! BLEED BLUE!

Follow Me on Twitter: @HeathBTN

 

5 Keys Boise State vs Wyoming

27c1f54c-851d-4918-b72b-e718677562b1_zps1a5e06fd1.) Boise State’s Defense vs Brett Smith: Brett Smith is the weapon that Boise State has to fear the most. He is another “dual-threat” QB, who can beat you through the air, and on the ground. So far this season Smith has thrown 20 touchdown passes, and ran for 3 more. At his best, he can cause problems for anybody, against Nebraska, Smith threw for 383 yards, and 4 touchdowns. For Boise State to beat Wyoming, they will need to repeat last years performance against Smith, where they limited him to 9 rushing yards, and 9 touchdowns through the air.

2.) Expose the Weak Defense of Wyoming: Grant Hedrick against Colorado State had a game for the record books. Going against Wyoming at home could provide another opportunity at a big night. Wyoming currently ranks 100th in the nation for points scored against them. They are giving up 33 points per game, and have really struggled in all areas. They have a new defensive coordinator as of their last game against Fresno. However, this late in the year it would be surprising to see much fixed. Against San Jose State, and Fresno State, they have given up 842 yards through the air. If Boise State can continue this success through the air, with an already potent running attack BSU could have an easy game.

3.) Weather, Late Start, and a Bye Week: If there was ever a chance for a team to have a weird game it could be Saturday night. You have a game that starts very late, you are coming off a bye week which cold be good, or it could make you rusty to start, and oh yeah an 80% chance of rain and cold weather Saturday. Boise State will have to be able to block these factors out against Wyoming if they hope to pull of a win. 1 x-factor can be hard, 3 could be a problem.

4.) Calling Korey Hall, Can We Learn to Tackle?: For anybody watching Boise State this year the biggest weakness has been obvious. That weakness is tackling, which is odd for a Boise State team which prides itself on fundamentals. With young players, injuries, and inexperience comes growing pains. But this late in the year with a Mountain West Championship berth on the line, Boise State must tackle better. Wyoming does not have the “play-makers” like Fresno State on the edge, but if they can’t tackle it won’t matter. Boise State has to tackle better or it could be another unexpected long night for fans.

5.) Regain that Boise State Attitude: I could be in the minority, I could be wrong, and this could mean nothing. However, when I watch this years edition of Boise State I don’t see the same attitude I have seen in years past. Before this year, under Coach Pete, our guys played with confidence, so much so that it almost came off as a weird respectful arrogance. Losing 3 games can bring anybody down, and Coach Pete has said as much in his press conferences this year. But for Boise State to snag that Mountain West Championship they will need that attitude back. Boise State needs to find their chip, they need to find that under-dog mentality again. If they can do that, Boise State can once again rise to the level we are use to.

Follow Me on Twitter: @HeathBTN

5 Keys Boise State vs Nevada

939db9bc-a8b6-45a0-85e1-f0fb74446f22_zps66f235e8

1.) The Battle of the Pistol: In most cases, if I were to say it is the teachers vs the student in regards to Boise State vs Nevada football, you would always think of the teacher as Boise State. However, tomorrow night those roles will be reversed – the teacher will be Nevada, and the student Boise State. BSU now uses the offense that made Chris Ault, and Nevada famous. The question is, who will be more effective in using it? Can Joe Southwick and the Broncos out “pistol” Cody Fajardo and the Wolfpack? Based on the season so far, the answer would be yes, as the Broncos average about 10 more points per game than UNR. However, in a rivalry game you just never know what is going to happen. The team that can “fire” on all cylinders in the Pistol Offense should have the upper hand in this game.

2.) Stay Balanced: Perhaps the most overlooked statistic of Boise State this season is how balanced on offense they have been. As of right now Boise State has thrown the ball 228 times, and ran the ball 277. This balance feeds off each other, the pass opens up the run, the run opens up the pass. When Boise State keeps teams guessing that is when they are most dangerous. Especially in this new up-tempo offense that already has opposing defenses struggling to diagnosis pre-snap formations and plays.

3.) Calling Matt Miller: He leads the team in receptions, and still is without a doubt the best all around WR Boise State has on the team. However, against Utah State, Miller only had 2 receptions and a considerably bad game for a guy we have come to depend on. Against Nevada, Matt Miller will need to step back into his role of the “go to guy” and have a solid game. Especially if this game is close and we need key 3rd down conversions.

4.) Cody Fajardo Must Be Stopped: Cody Fajardo has not thrown an interception this season. In 158 attempts, he has 7 touchdowns and has completed 68% of his passes. He has also rushed for 272 yards and 5 touchdowns. All of this while missing 2 games already this season. For Boise State to be successful the Broncos will need to get after Fajardo, get pressure on him, and force him into some bad passes. Forcing a turnover or 2 from the very efficient QB could go a long way to getting the Broncos a win.

5.) Passing Touchdowns vs Interceptions: In the 3 loses Nevada has suffered this season they have given up 7 passing touchdowns and only forced 1 interception. In their 3 wins, they have only given up 2 passing touchdowns and forced 3 interceptions. Though UNR this season has given up a lot of points per game (38.2), when they are able to have success against the opposing teams passing game they seem to find a way to win. If Joe Southwick can continue to protect the football and get a couple passes in the endzone. Boise State should find this game to be an easy victory. However, if Nevada can contain Joe and the passing game, the Wolfpack might just find a way to hang around longer than Bronco fans would like.

Follow me on Twitter: @HeathBTN

Blue Turf Nation Interview with Recruiting Analyst Mike Singer

Mike Singer started writing for the Blue Turf Nation in November of 2012. Since then, he has moved onto writing for the USF Rivals recruiting website, Runningthebulls.com where he works as a recruiting analyst/reporter. In this interview, I got the chance to ask him about all things Boise State recruiting related. Including, what we can expect from Jalen Greene, what recruits think of the turf, and if Boise State has any diamond in the rough recruits on the radar?

BTN: It is easy for fans to get really excited about future recruits. The recruit most Bronco fans seem to be really excited about right now is Jalen Greene. What can you tell us about him? How does he differ from the QB’s currently on the BSU roster.

greenenla

-ESPN

Mike: Everything I’ve heard and read about Jalen Greene is that he’s just a stud. At 6-foot-3, 195-pounds he already has the size, but he has speed as well. He’s the 20th ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country by Rivals.com. We all know that this staff finds their gems, but this guy has a decent ranking too. The only real question with his game has been his accuracy, but that has already improved throughout the first few weeks of his senior season. He’s a left quarterback – that alone makes Boise fans happy – but he also has the arm strength and athleticism to be a perfect fit in the new pistol, up-tempo offense that Boise is running.

BTN:  Boise State has become famous for finding “diamond in the rough” type of players, is there anybody Bronco fans should keep an eye on that might fit this description?

Mike: Definitely. Sean Modster is that guy. I talked to him during the summer when he picked his first offer – which was of course, Boise State – and he was ecstatic and shortly committed thereafter. He’s tall at 6-foot-2, but he’s just considered to be a burner. A guy like this that can stretch the field is going to be big for Boise. He also had major interest from Oregon before he committed, has an offer from Colorado, and is ranked a three-star by Rivals despite only having two offers.

BTN: Having gotten the chance to speak to so many recruits, what separates Boise State from other schools in the mind of the recruit? Is it the field, uniforms, coaches, city etc...?

Mike: The recruits definitely like the field and the uniforms – that was something I always made sure to ask the kids. They also like the tradition behind the BSU program. The hammer that the defensive player runs out with before pregame is something they like. Mostly, the on the field success Boise has had the past decade is something they love. Boise is bringing in kids that want to win and will be dedicated to that.

BTN: Any predictions you want to give in regards to the future of Boise State football? Do you see Boise State continuing to gain more attention from the more sought after “4-5 star” type of recruits? Or do you think Boise State has peaked in terms of recruiting?

Mike: By ESPN.com, Boise State brought in two four star recruits last year. Aaron Baltazar was one of them and is  guy I really liked coming out of high school. We’re seeing that on the field right now, and he’ll definitely be more involved in the offense as a true freshman. As four as getting more four and five star guys down the road, I think it’s going to happen. Boise will definitely need to get into a bigger conference for this to happen more frequently, but higher ranked recruits definitely are interested in what Boise has to offer. Four-star defensive lineman Connor Humphreys is one of the best recruits in the west, and he had high Boise State interest for a while. Kalen Ballage is another four-star who really likes Boise State and could possibly land there.

BTN: Do you have anything you would like to say to the Blue Turf Nation readers?

Mike: I’ve been writing for Runningthebulls.com – the Rivals site covering USF sports – for about six months now. I can assuredly say that it would not have happened if I didn’t get my start with the BTN. The BTN is the best fan website I’ve ever seen and it truly does a great job on bringing a positive light on the football and basketball programs. I appreciate all the Boise State fans I talk to on Twitter – and they still follow me despite all the USF tweets :). (You can now follow Mike @Mike_RTB)

Follow Me On Twitter: @HeathBTN

5 Keys Boise State vs Fresno State

38dc3f96-36a4-4cf6-beae-11dda4a1ce56_zps98e9b5331.) Pressure Derek Carr: Fresno State is going to throw the ball, and Derek Carr has shown he is fully capable of doing it very well. In 2 games this season, Carr has thrown the ball 104 times (Last year he also threw the ball 43 times against BSU). For Boise State to be successful it is going to be very important that they have success at getting pressure on Carr. Sacks, hits, and pressures might be the deciding stat of this game. For Boise State to have a chance to do this, they will need to make stops on 1st & 2nd down. If the Broncos can do this, Demarcus Lawrence and the front line should have a chance to be play-makers on 3rd down. Get pressure on Carr, get the win.

2.) Stop the Screen Game: If you have watched Fresno State this year, you might have seen something that has scared you. The WR screen, the bubble screen, and the fast paced offense that at times resembles what we saw in Washington. For Boise State to win this game, they have to make open field tackles. Especially in one-on-one situations against WR’s in the screen game. Against Washington, Boise State had many opportunities to make difference making plays against WR’s behind the line of scrimmage. However, they missed tackles and give up big plays instead. Fresno State is going to try to recreate these match-ups and hope for similar results. If Boise State can make the tackles this week they will surely be on the path to winning. If they fail to be successful however, this could be a very long night for the Broncos.

3.)Counter-Punch: Playing against Fresno it seems odd to think Boise State isn’t favored. But this season Fresno State has a lot of people backing them. Despite the recent dominance by Boise State in the series. Fresno State is favored, and has a lot of talent to justify it. Chances are there is going to be a moment in this game where it is important for Boise State to answer a big play. Whether it is a touchdown, turnover, or big return. Boise State needs to be able to counter-punch the Bulldogs in big situations. Last week against Air Force, Boise State showed the ability to do this especially in the 1st half. After a few counter punches the Falcons could not longer maintain with the Broncos. This game could be similar – the question will be – which team has more in the tank as the game wears on?

4.) Don’t Turn The Ball Over: Boise State can’t do what they did against Air Force and beat the Bulldogs. Turnovers will be critical in this game, and that burden falls on everyone. The good news – no rain in the forecast for Boise State vs Fresno State – so Jay Ajayi can breathe a sigh of relief. The bad news – Joe Southwick only threw 2 incompletions against Air Force and one of them was an INT. In close games, turnovers often are the deciding factor. If this game is close, whoever wins this battle could be the victor. Boise State has to protect the ball. They just can’t afford to give the high-powered Fresno offense extra opportunities in this game.

5.) Be The Better Defense: Boise State is giving up 24 points a game, Fresno State is giving up 38 points a game. Both Boise State and Fresno have shown that they can score points. The question is can either team stop points from being scored on them? Air Force in the 1st half against Boise State looked like they were unstoppable. To Boise State’s credit, they made adjustments in the 2nd half and things looked very different. Against Rutgers, Fresno State had much of the same problem, they just could not stop Rutgers from scoring. Lucky for them, their offense was able to win the shoot-out. In this game, if one defense can step up more than the other, we should see that team end up victorious. Fatigue could be a real factor in this game, as both offenses prefer the no-huddle fast paced approached. The x-factor for this key could be conditioning. Late in the 2nd half, look for the better conditioned defense to make big plays.

(Bonus Key) Protect The Milk Can: Rivalries are part of what makes college football great. The Milk Can is a great example of that. Boise State is 11-4 all time vs Fresno State. But games like this are how rivalries are built and maintained. In 2001, not many people gave Boise State a chance vs the 10th ranked Fresno State Bulldogs. But after 4 quarters of play Boise State was celebrating as they knocked off Fresno 35-30. Come tomorrow, Fresno State will be looking for a huge victory at home to catapult what they hope is an amazing potential BCS season. Boise State has to be willing to match the emotion that Fresno State will likely enter this game with. “Protect the Milk Can” has to be a real part of this game. Though the series hasn’t seemed all that competitive in recent years, all it takes is one big shot by Fresno to change everything. Tomorrow can’t be that night, Boise State can’t let Fresno State take that trophy home for the 1st time.

Follow Me on Twitter: @HeathBTN