BY JEFF CAVES
TROY, Alabama – The discussion all off season was who was going to catch the ball for Boise State now that Cedrick Wilson was gone? Would Brett Rypien develop supreme confidence and have a breakout senior season? And, couldn’t Boise State run the ball with Alexander Mattison and an improved experienced offensive line? That seemed the answer to me against a smaller Troy “fire ant” defense that featured only one 300 pound lineman and 4 featherweight linebackers who averaged 214 lbs. Troy’s Head Coach Neil Brown complimented the Bronco recievers before the game and said they were better then they were saying. I said let’s pound ‘em!
The game was over at halftime. The Boise State game plan was in the books by the 2nd half and it was time to protect the lead with safer throws and running the ball.
Everybody knew that. Especially the Troy defense. Boise State went from running the ball 30% in the first half to 50% in the 3rd quarter to 85% in the fourth. If you don’t turn the ball over to Troy in the second half they simply wouldn’t have the time to win. So, let’s focus on the first half of play.
The game started as usual for Boise State. They won the toss and chose to send the defense out first. Good move. The defense created a 3 and out and Troy punted giving Boise State the ball at the Troy 47. Now, the ground and pound run game would commence. So I thought. Five of the first 6 next offensive plays were pass plays for Boise State. Offensive coordinator Zak Hill emptied the backfield and the pass playbook and launched an air attack on Troy. Yea, they had a great 8 yard Mattison run on 2nd and 3, but the rest of the plan was to pass first. Rypien threw 3x on 1st down and even on a critical 3rd and 1 from the Troy 44 yard line!
This team was out of control I thought.
Thank god things returned to normal on the next series when Boise State ran 2x for -5 yards and went 3 and out. MUCH BETTER. The run game continued to churn along with a nice Mattison 10 yard run but a holding penalty by the o line on a run play left Rypien in a 3 and 10 hole so he threw a 53 yard TD pass to CT Thomas.
At the end of the first quarter, thanks to a Troy sack, the Boise State run game was only 5 carries for 6 yards. But, Mattison had 18 yards gross on only 4 carries. He had 2 great runs and 2 negative carries. 50-50.
Boise State broke Troys back in the 2nd quarter. After a interception gave Boise State the ball on the Troy 37, Boise State went back to it’s bag of tricks. They threw down the middle and deep on 1st downs, ran a Qb draw with Rypien and a quick throw on 3rd and 2 to CT Thomas for a first down. They let Mattison have the glory of one carry for 7 yards and a TD. The pass first mentality came up again on the next drive. With Boise State backed up to their own 21 yard line, Rypien went deep to Modster on 1st down and then converted a 3rd and 2 and 3rd and goal with pass plays to take a commanding 28-7 lead. On the last series of the half, Boise State threw 5 of 6 times and hit Modster on a 3rd and 12 bomb for a 54 yard TD. 35-7 Broncos.
Game over. Boise State ran the ball only 10x on designed plays and threw the ball 70% of the time. They threw it on 1st down and 3rd and short, it didn’t matter. 7 different guys caught a pass from Rypien in the first two quarters.
Questions answered. This team is a throwing team. Until next week. UCONN gave up 300 yards rushing last week…hmmmmmmmm.