After a blowout win over Tennessee-Martin last week, Boise State’s opening week loss to Washington appears to be in the past. Now, the Broncos take to the skies to open their Mountain West Conference schedule against Air Force at Bronco Stadium.
Boise State (1-1, 0-0 MWC) will have a short week of preparation this week, with Air Force coming to Boise on Friday for a 6 pm start time. The game will be Boise State’s first of three games on ESPN.
Broncos head coach Chris Petersen and offensive coordinator Robert Prince have been experimenting with a pistol-style offense featuring redshirt season quarterback Joe Southwick and redshirt sophomore running back Jay Ajayi, but the Falcons have been perfecting their triple option system for many years.
Air Force (1-1, 0-1 MWC) finished third in the Mountain West in total yards last season with 5,445, nearly 400 yards more than fifth ranked Boise State (5,087 yards). The Falcons struggled in their only Mountain West matchup, to date, against Utah State, in which the Aggies held them to 162 yards.
Petersen and the Boise State defense will be faced with the task of limiting Air Force’s dual threat quarterback, Jaleel Awini, who is the main component of their triple option attack.
“We’ll watch a ton of film; we’ll watch what they’ve done this year,” Petersen said. “We’ll watch what they’ve done against us. There’s a lot there and it’s hard to get a lot of practice reps to get good at any one offense or scheme they’re going to run.”
The Boise State secondary will experience the biggest change between weeks when defending the triple option, because the amount of focus they have to pay to pass defense is limited by the intense amount of rushing.
Sophomore safety Darian Thompson will shift his eyes from the receivers to the backfield in order to defend Air Force’s triple option.
“The big thing about the triple option is you have to have good eyes,” Darian Thompson said. “That’s what the coaches are harping on now and that’s what we’re working on.”
Boise State limited Tennessee-Martin to 152 rushing yards in their week two matchup. Along with Awini is Air Force sophomore running back Jon Lee, who is currently second in the Mountain West for yards per carry with 8.3. Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith leads the conference with 11.1 yards per carry.
Lee is also tied for third in the conference in rushing touchdowns with two. Air Force uses the speed of both Awini and Lee to spread the field and add speed off the edge of the tackle box.
“They just put guys in and they put them on the edge, in space, and crack you and cut you,” Petersen said. “All similar to the kind of guys we’ve had, where you just put them in and you go.”
Despite being suspended for the third time since joining the Broncos as a redshirt sophomore transfer last year, defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence will suit up for Boise State Friday night. Coach Petersen is keeping the issue internal, and says Lawrence was suspended for one game for violating team rules.
Boise State has faced two balanced offensive attacks in their first two games against Washington and Tennessee-Martin, but will now get their first taste of the triple option with Air Force. The Broncos hope their Mountain West championship dreams don’t get shot down in their first conference matchup of the season.