Be Prepared: Breaking Down What to Know About Boise State vs New Mexico this Weekend
The 2022 Boise State football season kicked off this last weekend after a long offseason, and it didn't go according to plan for Broncos fans. While the Broncos will not go undefeated this season, there is still much to play for and potentially a glimpse into the future will play out the rest of this season, depending on the quarterback play. There is much to critique and improve on, but there were also some bright spots. The season continues with a short week this week, as the Broncos begin conference play, and the journey to regain the title of Mountain West Champions begins this Friday against the New Mexico Lobos. Let's recap the loss this last weekend and what went right and wrong, and preview the first conference game of the season.
Recapping Boise State vs Oregon State
Boise State started their season with a loss on the road to the Oregon State Beavers 34 to 17. In the last post, I wrote their three keys to the game were to survive the first half, which they failed to do, turning the ball over four times in the first half and trailing 24-0 at the half. The second key was to limit big plays, they gave up 7 plays in the game of 25 yards or more, with five of those coming in the first half. The last key was to return to Boise State football form, and while the second half they did, it was too little too late.
Oregon State used three of those four first half turnovers to force coach Andy Avalos to bench his senior quarterback, Hank Bachmeier early in the second quarter after two interceptions and a fumble. Freshman, Taylen Green would enter the game and play the rest of the way. The score was 14-0 when Green entered, but the offense never truly got going. The defense was able to force 3 turnovers of their own but was unable to capitalize on them. In the second half, Boise State did outscore the Beavers 17-10, but after a 24-0 hole, it was too much to overcome, dropping the Broncos to 0-1 for the season.
Positives of the game included Green getting some valuable experience, as well as rushing for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns. He threw for 155 yards through the air, with one interception, and was 19 of 28. The other bright spot was that JL Skinner was as good as advertised, registering one of the two interceptions of the game for the Bronco defense, as well as 12 tackles. The team did not register a single sack in the game though.
Know Your Opponent: New Mexico Lobos
The New Mexico Lobos started their season off against Maine, throttling them 41-0. The New Mexico defense only allowed 118 total yards to Maine, limiting them to 22 yards rushing and 96 through the air. They forced two turnovers and dominated the game from start to finish. Seeing how Maine is not an FBS or even FCS school, there isn't much to be taken away from this dominating performance. Lobos quarterback, Miles Kendrick, threw only three incompletions, but two of those were interceptions, meaning only one pass didn't land in the arms of some other player. The defense is led by defensive coordinator Rocky Long, who gave Boise State fits during his time as the San Diego State head coach, before voluntarily stepping down after the 2019 season. He has begun to turn the Lobos defense around, just as he did for the Aztecs, and he has plenty of experience coaching against Boise State. The Lobos are led by head coach Danny Gonzales who went 3-9 a year ago in his first season as head coach, including a 37-0 loss to Boise State.
Who to Watch: Boise State
All eyes this week will be on redshirt freshman Taylen Green. Does he start over Bachmeier, or does he start on the bench again? If he gets his first start, how does the offense click from the get-go? It can't go much worse than it did in Corvallis last week. Green brings a dynamic that Bachmeier can't match and that is the threat of the run game from the quarterback position. Green also proved to be more accurate and make better decisions, throwing fewer interceptions through two and half quarters than Bachmeier did through one and a half. Green is the future at the position for Boise and fans are now aware of his abilities. If he doesn't start, how short of a leash does Bachmeier have?
Who to Watch: New Mexico
For New Mexico, the player to keep an eye on is 5'10 sophomore wide receiver, Luke Wysong. In their first game against Maine, Wysong was used in multiple assets of the offense and was the best player on the field most of the night. He had 6 rushes for 43 yards and a touchdown, including an average of 7.2 yards per carry. He also had 3 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown, averaging 17 yards per catch. He was second in both rushing and receiving for the Lobos. He will be a player that the defense has to know where he is at all times and limit his touches, or it could be a long night for the Boise State defense and another big night for Wysong.
3 Keys to the Game
1) Limit the Turnovers
The one thing that killed Boise State the most in the game this last weekend was turnovers. They had four turnovers in the first half and five overall. Rarely can you turn the ball over five times in a game and win. In the second half they still had a turnover, but overall had better ball security. Secure the ball for a whole game or like you did in the second half and the Broncos stand a much better chance of winning this weekend.
2) Stick with One Quarterback
As the old phrase in college football goes, 'if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have a quarterback.' Green was able to move the ball and control the offense in a better way than Bachmeier last week and should be allowed to start. Unless he gets off to the same kind of start that the Broncos did last week, give him a chance to run the offense for the whole game and see if the team rallies around him. As unfortunate as it is for a senior to be benched after one terrible quarter, the fan base saw with their own eyes what Green could do, and deserves to get the nod.
3) Establish the Run
The Broncos need to come out and establish the run early and stick with it. While the numbers last week may look good at first glance, with 126 yards rushing, an average of 4.1 yards per carry, and 2 touchdowns, it isn't as good as it seems. 102 of those yards came from Jaylen Green, and much of that was on him empathizing and scrambling. The running backs need to get the bulk of the run, and it starts up front with the offensive line establishing their dominance. This is an experienced line and last week they didn't look the part early on. They will have to this week to give the Broncos a chance.
Predicting Boise State vs New Mexico
While New Mexico may have pitched a shutout and they seem to be an improved team, it is hard to see them beating the Boise State Broncos one year after losing 37-0. Boise has some issues to workout on offense, but the second half of the game last week showed promising signs as the defense was able to hold Oregon State to ten points in the second half and the offense got more in sync and stopped turning the ball over. Boise will come out with something to prove and be playing a conference and division opponent they know well. The Broncos bounce back and win this one, but it is closer than most would like in a defensive battle until the Broncos pull away late in the fourth quarter. Boise State 31 New Mexico 13
While the offense left much to be desired last week, there was some hope with freshmen Jaylen Green. It will be interesting to see who gets the start this week, and how playing time is distributed among the quarterbacks. If Boise State can get off to a better start than a week ago, take care of the ball, and play as they did in the second half, then a win should follow. If the same issues follow them into this week's game, then it could be a long season ahead and there may need to be some tough decisions to be made. Being 0-2 at Boise State is unacceptable, and so is dropping a conference opener. The Broncos need to rebound and get back to playing their brand of football and this week is a perfect opportunity for that.