Attack The Opponent – University Of Washington Huskies

This game has been circled on my personal calendar since the home and home was announced. That 2007 loss was brutal and difficult to watch. So was 2013. Boise State won the Vegas bowl against the Huskies in 2012, but the history doesn’t matter. Not now. These aren’t Sark’s Huskies, these aren’t Pete’s Broncos, and 2015 is a brave new world with the same old glass ceiling just waiting to be broken.

We can haz playoff, ESPN? For realsies?

There are so many angles on this game. Some are data driven – like Boise State trying to replace Jay Ajayi’s 130 yards per game on the ground. Or Grant Hedrick’s stellar 70% completion average. Some are driven by emotion. Like Pete having to come back and play here at the expense of the “awkwardness” surrounding coming to the home that is not his any longer. The fan bases are being their usual selves – UW fans touchy and sneering, BSU fans chippy and confident. Both of these are correct reactions to what little we know of these teams – UW is thin at the line, new at quarterback, good at running back and tight end. The Husky’s defense lost a lot of playmakers, and while talented, doesn’t have much experience. This team is 65% underclassmen, walking into the insanity that will be Albertsons Stadium at full emotional and physical capacity.

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE

UW has not named their quarterback. A little bit of subterfuge by Pete? Yep. It’s adorable. But as Heath, our resident gentleman and scholar put it on Twitter, “You either have one quarterback, or none.” It sure seems like they’d announce if it was the veteran, so it’s more than possible Pete will start a true frosh QB in Jake Browning. With the strength that the Huskies have at running back, expect to see a lot of Dwayne Washington trying to smash through to the second level. Once the track meet starts, he can win it. Also look for a lot of little passes over the middle to the tight ends and the occasional attempt to exploit the size difference on the outside between the Bronco DB’s and Washington’s big 6’5 WR Brayden Lenius.

Boise State, on the other hand, could be deeper than we are used to. Ryan Finley has been appointed QB, with his only real game experience coming during the meltdown at Air Force last season. The only thing I remember about his play is that he made a mistake, didn’t get rattled, and finished a drive well. That is enough. If the coaches think Ryan is the guy, then he’s obviously the most prepared and ready. However, there are 3 gentlemen behind him on the depth chart. It’s Utah State levels of embarrassment of riches at that position. Jeremy McNichols, with his mastery of the edge, will get the start at running back. Even though he was only responsible for 314 yards last season, they were always entertaining ones. The WR corps is probably the most interesting unit on offense. Thomas Sperbeck, the guy that totally embodies the Boise State “Next Man Up” mentality, is back. Chaz Anderson has an entire season under him on that side of the ball, and will be dangerous. Shane Williams-Rhodes brings not only his amazingly entertaining brand of football, but senior leadership to a group that is deep and more athletic than Boise has had out there for a while. It was so good to see the return of the tight end last year, and will be even better to see if Jake Roh and the rest of that group get the breakout season that they have been working towards.

Coach K and the new look 3-4 UW defense are a question mark. Yes, Budda Baker will still be roaming the defensive backfield (and probably some offense and a lot of special teams), but when the defensive line is 6 of 7 dudes who have never started a college football game, there’s going to be growing pains. So this is where I think the difference is going to be in this game – the trenches. UW’s defense just won’t get to rattle Finley, leaving the entire playbook open for Coach Drink’s offense to make come to life.

Despite what Coach Yates has tried to convince us, Boise State’s defense is going to be outright dangerous this season. The DL rolls three deep in upperclassmen. The linebacker corps is just as real. UW is going to have to establish the run and a short passing game against an experienced, much better conditioned than in the past Boise State defense that theoretically should be creating unparalleled havoc. Hell, the only spot where they’re sort of young is at cornerback, and thats only because underclassmen are backing up Donte Deayon and Jonathan Moxey, who could both be playing on Sundays in the near-ish future.

Everyone on both sides has acknowledged that this game is meaningful. Pete calls it awkward, and Hars radiates excitement. To the players, none of this should matter as soon as the ball is kicked, but it totally will because they are human just like the rest of us. Logical me knows that its college football and that anything can happen. UW could win this game. That’s a thing that is possible out of all the possibilities. But fan me is screaming that they can’t. Pete can’t just walk back into this stadium with a team that’s over half underclassmen and expect to win against the kids he recruited and then left, right? We all know that Harsin is the best thing that happened to this program since the floppy haired kid who said “neat” a lot took off for Lionyer pastures. That’s not in question. Pete left at the right time. But it didn’t make it hurt less. I remember how it felt to wake up to my phone blowing up with the news and the way my heart sank. I remember traveling back across the country – sitting drunk and heartbroken in a restaurant in the Denver airport, trying to stay interested in coaching rumors and failing because all I could think about was how stunned I was that he picked that program, out of every one that had come calling. Who turns down Stanford and USC but takes the dumpster fire in Seattle? I could’ve understood leaving for Cali, to a high profile, pretty job. It’s like getting spurned for a super model. Ouchy, but understandable. But this? <expletive> him. <expletive> walking back in this stadium in purple and gold. Gotta pay for that one. In a very public way.

The eyes of the college football world are going to be upon Boise on Friday night. The storylines are compelling, the teams are fairly well matched, and for one evening, the greatest show on earth might just be going on our very own Blue Turf. Who is going to play the hero? Which young QB is going to take the first step onto the path of the greats before them? Will the protégé claim victory over the master? Will the Huskies ever be able to convert third down with the throngs of screaming Bronco fans making our presence exceedingly known? Will the Broncos be able to match #DatPacSpeed? Only one way to find out. After years of anticipation, months of analysis and talk, hype and controversy, its finally time for Boise State to start what just might be the most special of all the seasons in the most special place of all…

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Home.

Re-evaluating Fandom

Fiesta Bowl 2014 Photo by Patrick SweenyAs football fans, we evaluate everything constantly. Data and discussion, websites, gambling, tv networks, billions of dollars, furor and noise. Around public schools and young men playing a game with a ball. Today’s news of current Baylor (former Boise State) player Sam Ukwuachu has been hard to process. The idea that Chris Petersen could have possibly cut an ill, violent, and suicidal kid loose and didn’t give Baylor a heads up is sickening. We don’t know the details (yet) and probably won’t (for a while), because this is going to be fought in court unless a lot of people who are used to getting their way start admitting difficult things publicly.

During the furor of twitter updates and rage against a system so broken that it allowed a woman’s very identity to be wiped away for the sake of having an All-American DL to shore up the line for next season, I started to evaluate, again, for the millionth time, just why I stay a fan of this sport.

Football can be a violent, stupid game. At the worst times, it’s a soul-sucking shrine to greed and injustice. Every time someone cheats, every time someone takes advantage of their fame or their association to the team to get away with a crime or take advantage of others, every time an assault or worse is covered up in connection with police and the athletic department, it’s disturbing. It makes me rightfully question whether I can keep pouring my time, energy, and love into a game as an institution that could seemingly not care any less dispassionately about anything but winning and cash. Football is a game played by tough, dangerous men. You know, the kind with cheesy smiles running expense accounts of the non-profit entities known as bowl games to live like royalty at great cost to young people who destroy their bodies and sometimes minds in exchange for an education.

At the best times, football can be intoxicating. When played well, it’s a beautiful dance of timing, skill, and power played to the musical pop of the pads and the screams of the faithful. When the lights are on, the band is playing, ESPN is in town, and the boys in blue are throttling some poor schmucks, it’s easy to get caught up in the joyfulness of it all. To ride the adrenaline rush of the imperfect beauty of this sport is beyond description. Everyone that calls themselves a fan fell in love at a different point. It doesn’t even matter which epic moment was the catalyst. There are hundreds of those moments across the country every season and that is why we watch and cheer on young men trying to turn themselves into heroes. Because sometimes they come out, make a ballsy call against a team that they should lose to, and run Statue. Then the running back proposes to one of the cheerleaders and a guy with a microphone ruins the moment. Because sometimes the kick is wide and heartbreak becomes painfully, agonizingly real. Football is played by driven, amazing young men. The kind that suit up and go out every day just to have a chance.

Outside of the extremes, football is a wonderful microcosm of humanity. No one has ever truthfully claimed that life was fair for everyone. We’re a stupid, messy lot. We make mistakes and break things all the time. We make poor choices and are victims of circumstances that we didn’t create, but have a drive to find a way to keep living despite the incredible odds of us being alive at all. Because being our own heroes and taking examples from those around us how to do things in a way that keeps us alive for another 5 minutes is what being human is about, pretty sure. Football might be broken, but it’s only because we are.

Should fandom be abandoned when it starts to hurt? Maybe, but not today. I will remember that nobody is perfect, and sure, I’ll be angry plenty of times in the future. But the game will also bring a quite pure form of joy. In corners of the country, fans will gather together to tailgate and cheer and watch this sport develop into the beautiful, chaotic mess that it is – made both gorgeous and hideous by humanity. Just like everything else.

Adventures in Tailgating: Lipstick on a Pig

If you know me – either personally, through Twitter or this blog – you know I love tailgating. I love beer.  I love Boise State football.  I love food.  I love beer.  Oh and I love my family.  Tailgating combines all of these loves six times every fall as we get together to celebrate before every Bronco home game.

Our family has six spots near the Ram for our tailgating festivities, and when a group of 10 or so people need to get all of their tailgating gear to those spots, you need a tailgating machine to get it all there.

Now there are many nice tailgating vehicles in the Boise State community – fancy paint jobs and wraps, elaborate satellite TV set ups, motorized kegerators etc.  Unfortunately, ours is not one of those.  We have an old 1972 Dodge Balboa that we trust (barely) to get our set-up to the game on Fall Saturdays (or Fridays, or Thursdays, or…).  It does the job, but it is far from fancy:

MohoOur trusty Moho

The Moho, as we like to call it, was originally owned by mom’s boyfriend.  When he first bought it and redecorated it, it was pretty nice.  He painted the cabinets blue and orange, ripped out the carpet and installed blue turf, hung Bronco pennants and pictures inside, and painted blue and orange stripes on the outside.  Over the years we added magnets and stickers to the outside, and various memorabilia to the inside.  Overall it has been a lot of fun and great to have for tailgating.  Sadly, the years have not been kind to her.  Summers in storage, and Winter nights being quickly abandoned after hours in 5 degree weather have taken their toll.  What was once a tailgating machine that we were proud to display around the stadium has deteriorated into a vehicle being compared to other dilapidated vehicles from pop-culture:

Uncle-Rico-and-His-Van                I guess I see the resemblance.

BreakingMuch bigger and much less legal than mine. I like the orange smoke though!

EddiesMine might look a little better.  Plus we don’t have a working toilet so the sh***er is never full!

Needless to say the Moho is not the prettiest tailgating machine out there, but it does the job, and with September 4th and our meeting with Coach Pete and the Huskies quickly approaching, we had to get her ready.

Last night the family got together to get it cleaned up, organized, and stocked with the proper supplies.  We ordered some Papa Murphy’s, bought some beer and Root Beer (not your fathers!), gathered up the cleaning supplies, and….sat in the front yard for an hour drinking beer and staring at the Moho wondering if we can make her prettier.

Eventually we got brave enough to enter and start the project.  First thing we noticed was that we need a new doormat.  This one is getting a little worn out:

Vandal matI am not really sure where this came from , but for years it has been used to wipe mud, snow, stepped on brats and spilled beer from our shoes. After a little discussion we all decided that none of us wants to spend any money buying a Vandal hat, so we will see if we can get one more season out of this and keep our eyes open at the thrift stores.

Once we stepped past the door mat, I decided to open up the roof vent to get some air circulating while we worked.  I was greeted by a family of yellow jackets that had taken up residence in the off-season:

yellow jacketsThis called for some heavy artillery.  Luckily we had a helmet that was worn for Patton’s Army at a tennis match, so I strapped on my cover, grabbed some Raid and quickly defeated the infiltrators.

SGT CancelThe rest of the night was fairly uneventful.  We hosed her down, dusted the insides, reminisced about some of our other tailgating adventures, and dreamed of Maaco paint jobs and spinning hubcaps that  would make our Moho a little more presentable.  Most of these things may never happen, but no matter what, our Moho has been there for all the wins, a few losses, and  three fiesta bowl seasons.  Hopefully she can stay alive for many more.

If you see her, stop on by and say hi.  I will introduce you to my family, maybe share some food and beer, and if your lucky, give you a tour and have you sign our wall of fame.

She’s not pretty, but she’s ours  – and one of the many things that make Bronco Football such an important part of our life.

Go Broncos!

 

 

 

 

THE SEASON IS ALMOST HERE!

Every off season feels like the longest one ever, but 2015 has been crazy.

Boise State didn’t go away last season, like some thought they would. In a shocking plot twist, the Broncos went 11 – 2 and won the Fiesta Bowl after Chris Petersen left for purpler pastures. Nationally, apparently some people are stunned. Boise State was supposed to sit down, shut up, lose 5+ games again, and fade into the obscurity of the Mountain West during the power conference era, when the haves widened the gap and left all the have-nots, out.

Except that isn’t what happened. It’s been an eventful 2015 so far, and Boise State appears to be keeping up. Yes, it’s with a much smaller margin of error, but this program is in battles (and winning some!) for recruits that wouldn’t have even returned a call three years ago. Cost of Attendance is handled, the content coming out of the football complex is much more polished than at any time before, and Bronco Nation is chomping at the bit for the biggest OOC game on The Blue since Oregon came for their eventful visit in 2009. Fall camp is in full swing, the stadium banners have been unveiled, Hars has taken a pie to the face, Yates has chastised everyone for talking up the defense, and we’re under a month to go until the start of something that could be really special.

Mystique is totally a thing still, Rocky. Whether you want it to be or not.

This is the best and worst time of year. The anticipation is intoxicating. Every team is 0-0 and hope is easy to come by. Go on the Internet and almost every fan base is being insufferable. Utah State is coming for Boise State, just like they are every season. With their 78 77 76 75 74 73 72 returning starters and one of them being perpetual Heisman candidate until that knee happens, Chuckie Keeton, well why wouldn’t the Broncos be running scared? Washington might be in trouble as far as skill positions, but they’re still in the Pac 12 and that automatically spots them two touchdowns and a few friendly calls from the officials. BYU’s fan base is secretly checking every interesting looking rock in Utah County for a prophecy to translate and convince the Coaches Poll voters to put them in the next top 25. Even Bronco Twitter is in on the action, making it a life goal to get blocked by Nevada’s resident humorless corndog connoisseur and the coach of the Wolf Pack, Brian Polian. Once he called us out during Media Days, he had to know he was flipping that troll switch, right?

Can’t forget the realignment rumors flowing as sure as the rivers of smack. The Big 12 is the destination this time, and as fun as the speculation is, it’s still a long shot for the Broncos to move out of the MWC anytime soon. Still, the idea of the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming out of Austin and Norman is incredibly soothing in this run up to kickoff.

Not quite as soothing as cuddling up with your best equine buddy in the living room, though.

What we know for sure right now isn’t much. We know the Broncos return a lot of experience and depth in every position but QB, RB, and CB, and the options there are solid if unproven. We know that the coaching staff didn’t have much of a drop off, even with losing former OC Mike Sanford to Notre Dame over the offseason. Harsin seems stunned when anyone asks about the transition, like its nuts to expect anything other than awesome out of Coach Drink. We know that Boise’s OOC schedule might just be enough to carry them into the playoff if the MWC shocks the world a couple times and doesn’t lose a bunch of games they shouldn’t.

The possibilities and questions are endless. We’ll spend the next few weeks thinking over the alternatives and talking about position battles and pouring over practice reports and player interviews trying to get a bit more understanding. All of it in a pointless attempt to predict the future performances of a bunch of young men that hold their own destiny, thankyouverymuch. We’re just along for the ride.

 

A Simple Fan Prediction – Wins & Loses

www.sltrib.com

www.sltrib.com

Let me first off start by saying how odd of a season I feel like this is. When you look at 4 of the first 6 games you have some really compelling matchups. After that though, outside of Air Force, it will be really tough to see Bronco fans interested in the outcomes of the remaining schedule. That being said, I really wish the schedule would have been reversed and we finished with the first 6 games and didn’t start with them. My biggest concern here is following Washington with a game at BYU. The emotion of playing Washington is going to be very real and I can foresee a big win here despite breaking in a new QB and RB. After that though, I have a bad feeling our new QB whoever he is (Ryan Finley), is going to have a tough time going into BYU and getting a win. BYU has some questions on defense, but this game is early enough where Taysom Hill should be healthy, and it is the home opener for BYU. Even in my most optimistic approach to the season, I don’t see us leaving Provo with a win.

Here is how I see the season going for Boise State right now. (Subject to change depending on how fall camp plays outs).

  • Boise State vs Washington – Win
  • Boise State @ BYU – Lose
  • Boise State vs Idaho State – Win
  • Boise State @ Virginia – Win
  • Boise State vs Hawaii – Win
  • Boise State @ Colorado State – Win
  • Boise State @ Utah State – Win
  • Boise State vs Wyoming – Win
  • Boise State @ UNLV – Win
  • Boise State vs New Mexico – Win
  • Boise State vs Air Force – Win
  • Boise State @ San Jose State – Win
  • MWC Championship – Win
Record – 12-1