Boise State at Colorado State Preview: What to watch

Taya Power-Thornton | The Arbiter

After a big comeback win last week on the blue against San Jose State, the Broncos travel to Fort Collins to face off against Colorado State University (CSU) on Oct. 14.

Boise State, once again, is in their “who should be our quarterback?” phase of the season.

The answer to that question looks a bit different than it did last year however.

Last week, the offense featured drives led by both Taylen Green and Maddux Madsen. Though they got off to a rough start, the offense finished with 35 points, 230 passing yards and 262 rushing yards.

This week it looks like we’ll be seeing split reps between the two quarterbacks again.

“This is not going to be a ‘by series’ type thing,” offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said to the media. “You’re going to be in, you’re going to be out and we need [them] to stay locked in.”

Colorado State’s passing game is much more consistent however. Freshman quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi has thrown for 1,585 yards on the season, and the team averages a conference leading 352.2 passing yards per game.

Fowler-Nicolosi was not the week one starter for the Rams, however, after sophomore Clay Millen got banged up against Washington State University, his number was called up. 

The next week after CSU’s early bye week, he had a breakout game against Deion Sanders and the University of Colorado Buffaloes. He threw for 367 yards and completed 34 of his 47 pass attempts in an overtime 35-43 loss.

He’s very capable of tearing up power five defenses, however, the guy’s a gunslinger. He’s thrown 11 touchdowns, but leads the Mountain West in interceptions with ten so far this season. 

Last year the Rams scored the third lowest points per game in the nation with 13.2. This season with a new quarterback under center, they’ve more than doubled that, averaging 31 per game.

Boise State’s defense on the other hand has a track record that is worrisome for this matchup. They’ve allowed a stunning 295.2 passing yards per game, ranking 10th in the MWC.

The squad also struggles to force turnovers, with only three interceptions and four fumbles recovered so far this season.

Boise State’s X factor this week, as he is every week, is sophomore running back Ashton Jeanty

Last week he became the first player to surpass 1,000 all purpose yards through six games in the Football Bowl Series (FBS) era since 1996. The Broncos are only halfway through the season, meaning he’s on track for 2,000+ yards in 2023.

The Ram’s defense ranks middle of the pack when stopping the run, however they bring lots of experience, starting three seniors.

One of those seniors is edge rusher Mohamed Kamara, who has 9.5 sacks, three of which came last week against Utah State. 

While the Ram’s offense leads the MWC in pass yards per game, their defense ranks dead last, allowing 333 per game.

There’s no chance of rain in Fort Collins on Saturday, so there’s no reason the Bronco’s shouldn’t be slinging the football up and down the field.

With that said, how well will Boise State’s two quarterbacks throw against the worst pass defense in the conference?

At this point in the season the starting QB spot is Green’s to lose, and if he can’t put up some decent numbers against the Rams, then why is he even on the field?

Notably, Hamdan has said that in drop back pass situations, Madsen is the guy for the job. When facing a secondary this bad, doesn’t it mean the whole game is an obvious passing situation? 

If there is a split of reps for most of the game, then it’s fairly obvious that the coaches favor Green over Madsen. As the staff will try to give him an opportunity to dig himself out of the hole he’s put himself into over the course of the first five weeks of the season.

“Nobody wants to see [Taylen] succeed more than the coaching staff and the players,” head coach Andy Avalos said to the media.

The fans also want to see Green succeed, this game will be a benchmark on how far he’s progressed since 2022.

Last year he threw for 305 yards and completed 24 of 30 passes, however last week Green only threw the ball eight times to Madsen’s 16.

This week Jeanty will look to earn a much needed break and we’ll get to see how both quarterbacks tackle the worst pass defense in the Mountain West. 

Score Prediction: 41-37 Boise State

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