Back on The Blue: Boise State football prepares for rest of season after first game loss

Boise State Broncos football team rushing the field before a 2019 game at Albertsons Stadium.
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson

With their first game against the University of Central Florida (UCF) on Sept. 2 ending in a surprising loss, the Boise State football team is shifting momentum and putting their focus towards the rest of the 2021 season.

Andy Avalos was announced as the new head coach for the Broncos on Jan. 9 after former Head Coach Bryan Harsin finalized a deal with the University of Auburn and decided to leave Boise State. 

As a former linebacker and defensive coordinator for the Broncos, Avalos decided to return to his roots in the City of Trees. Before being hired as the head coach, he was a defensive coordinator for the University of Oregon Ducks.

During the game against UCF on Thursday, Sept. 2 where the Knights defeated the Broncos 36-31 Avalos made his first head coaching debut in the Bounce House. Despite their loss, Avalos says he is still excited for the talent they have this season. 

“How we adjust and make sure guys understand how to play those situations, we’ll do a much better job [as coaches] because we got some talented guys, we got a good team and we can grow from this,” Avalos said.

Starting from the beginning of the 2021 year, the Broncos have set the standard for how they want their season to go. Despite their first loss, the program continues to show excitement and drive as they build toward what comes next. 

Rebuilding for the new season

Months prior to Bryan Harsin accepting the position at Auburn, former Athletic Director Curt Apsey decided to step down from his position and transition into a university-level fundraising position. 

On Jan. 2, just six days before the new head football coach hire, Jeramiah Dickey was announced as the new athletic director for Boise State. 

Since being hired, Dickey has strived to improve Boise State Athletics. This included hiring new coaching staff, announcing alcohol sales within Albertsons Stadium, launching a new Bronco Sports app for students and fans and attempting to improve athletic facilities across campus. 

“I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead Bronco Athletics,” said Dickey in a press release on Jan. 3 . “There is no question the Boise State national brand resonates at the highest levels in college athletics. The successes surrounding all of Bronco Athletics are well known.”

Leading up to the first game of the season, Dickey posted a photo on Twitter of him on a private jet and a Boise State football helmet on July 23.

“If you don’t ‘ask,’ you don’t ‘get.’ Whatever we don’t have, we will go out and find! Control what we can control Bronco Nation!” Dickey said in the tweet. 

Since Dickey and Avalos’ hirings, the Broncos have introduced new members to the coaching staff as well. Avalos added Offensive Coordinator Tim Plough as well as Defensive Coordinator Spencer Danielson to his coaching staff. From that point, all other coaching prospects fell into place. 

Boise State football hosted their annual spring game on April 10, where fans got a glimpse of the team and possible outcomes of the fall season. 

During the game, the defense stole the show with a win over the offense 45-23. Although the offense struggled with penalties, the defense showed promise for the upcoming football season.

Spreading out the offense 

Before the season began, there was talk around quarterbacks Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears, and which student-athlete would receive the starting position

Boise State Broncos football team rushing the field before a 2019 game at Albertsons Stadium.
[Photo of Boise State Broncos entering the field for a 2019 game at Albertsons Stadium]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

On Aug. 20, Avalos announced that junior quarterback Bachmeier would be receiving the starting position for their first game against UCF, a position he was given at the start of the 2020 season as well. 

During the game in Orlando, Florida, Bachmeier passed for a total of 263 yards compared to UCF’s Dillon Gabriel, who passed for 318 yards. The Broncos lacked the ability to execute and run the ball which called for a loss of yards according to Plough.

Bachmeier completed his first nine passes to nine different receivers. Plough said that once the offense is flowing, that’s what the offense is expected to look like for the rest of the season. 

“That’s really what it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be spreading the ball around,” Plough said. “Getting the ball to different guys in different spots and everyone getting involved in the offense.” 

Key players during this game and potentially the rest of the season include wide receivers Khalil Shakir, Stefan Cobbs, Octavius Evans and running backs Andrew Van Buren and Cyrus Habibi-Likio.

Taking control on defense

With minutes into the Boise State vs. UCF game, redshirt junior cornerback Tyric LeBeauf picked off an interception to score a 100-yard touchdown for the Broncos.

Coach Avalos said that this play was huge for the defense and gave the team a momentum boost that was needed during several points throughout the game. 

Key plays throughout the game included two sacks for edge Isaiah Bagnah, 13 total tackles from safety JL Skinner and 11 total tackles from linebacker Riley Whimpey. 

“As a defense we always talk about pressuring and confusing the quarterback,” Whimpey said in a press conference prior to their first game. “So if we can get the dashboard in this face, make him get off balance while he’s throwing, I think it’s going to be a huge part.”

What’s Next?

[Boise State’s 2021 football schedule]
Graphic by Sasha White | The Arbiter

The Broncos will be taking on the Miners from the University of Texas El Paso on Friday, Sept. 10 at Albertsons Stadium. Coach Avalos will get his shot at coaching on The Blue and a chance for the Broncos to bring home a win. 

According to a press release Boise State is expected to have a full crowd for the home opener. This will be the first time the Broncos will experience a full Albertsons Stadium since the 2019 Mountain West Championship Game against Hawaii on Dec. 7, almost two years ago.

This season, Boise State Athletics is implementing a new experience for Bronco fans. ‘Blue Chaos’ is the term used to describe the electrifying noise from the crowd inside Albertsons Stadium on game day. This noise will serve as a distraction to the opposing team in order to force false starts on offense.

“From 2018-2019, Bronco Nation contributed to an environment that produced 44 false starts by opposing teams from 2018-19. That mark was the highest total of any stadium in the country, as were Bronco opponents’ 3.14 false starts per game.” the press release stated.

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