On Oct. 19 in Provo, Utah, Bronco Nation’s dream of an undefeated team came to a screeching halt at the hands of BYU. After a gut-wrenching end to a six-game win streak, Boise State fans are looking for someone to blame.
Heading into the third quarter, the Broncos held a lead of 10-7. In the third quarter alone, this lead was crushed when the Cougars scored three touchdowns in a mere 11 plays, and Boise State initially responded with a missed field goal and an interception.
The Broncos’ 15-point recovery of two touchdowns, one with a two-point conversion, came up short for the win, resulting in a final score of 25-28. The loss dropped Boise State to No. 22 in AP poll rankings from their previous seat of No.14.
Much of the media is quick to target redshirt sophomore quarterback Chase Cord who started in place of freshman Hank Bachmeier, who was out with a hip pointer acquired against Hawaii. Cord’s two interceptions — and what they suggest about his arm accuracy — are the main concerns.
Head coach Bryan Harsin, however, praised Cord’s preparation for the game and attributed the picks to BYU’s effective coverage on pass plays.
“They’ve got a really good defense; we know that,” Harsin said. “They made it difficult to throw in some of the windows.”
The reality of Boise State football’s inconsistency was revealed in Provo and extends far beyond the quarterback position. Aside from Cord, the Broncos’ difficulty in developing offensive drives was partially due to a lack of successful rushing.
“I don’t think that we ran the ball as effectively as we hoped that we would in the game, and we didn’t have the rush yards that we thought we would be able to get,” Harsin said.
The deficit in rush yardage — 188 yards in total — put more pressure on Cord’s arm and forced him to throw in less than ideal positions.
Junior wide receiver CT Thomas mentioned the team’s struggle with the 44-degree average of the night and how the temperature affected their level of play.
“We weren’t focusing on executing, we were focused on staying warm,” Thomas said.
Although the weather cannot be blamed for the entirety of the Broncos’ performance, redshirt senior kicker Eric Sachse’s 36-yard missed field goal attempt is partially due to the fact that he kicked into the harsh winds of Utah.
On the other side of the ball, significant flaws can be found in the Boise State defense. In fact, the two pivotal plays that solidified BYU’s victory were at the hands of a defense with immature field vision. The Broncos’ defense fooled by trick plays not once, but twice during gameplay.
Defensive tackle David Moa took full ownership of the score on behalf of himself and his fellow defensemen.
“It was just on us,” Moa said. “We didn’t play with our fundamental techniques in those plays and BYU capitalized.”
The 28 points allowed by the defense also served as a source of pressure on Cord as the success of BYU’s offense comparatively minimized his own.
Overall, until the BYU upset, Boise State’s arguably weak schedule had not fully uncovered the flaws that lie beneath the facade of a winning season.
Thomas claimed the game played on Saturday was “not Boise State football” and expressed that the team needs to meet expectations after this loss. To do so, he called for change.
“We gotta go back to the drawing board and start over — start all the way over. You know what I’m saying, look at ourselves in the mirror,” Thomas said.
Despite the unexpected loss, the team has yet to give up. Redshirt senior offensive lineman John Molchon claims the morale of the team remains strong.
“We’re fighters, that’s the one thing about us,” Molchon said. “No one had their head down.”
The Broncos are expected to work to redeem themselves and keep their hopes of a New Year’s Six bowl game alive.
While the timing of Bachmeier’s return remains unclear, Cord may continue to be a key playmaker and cannot be fully blamed for the failure of an entire team.
Boise State football will return after a bye week in a faceoff at San Jose State on Nov. 11.