WHO GETS THE EDGE?
When the Broncos run the ball ...
Boise State has been OK on the ground thus far, averaging 3.5 yards per carry, buoyed by senior quarterback Montell Cozart’s scrambling abilities. The Broncos have not had a 100-yard rusher in their last four games. The last time they went five without one was during the 2008 season.
“We have that mentality like we’re going to be a downhill run team, and we’re going to try to keep establishing that,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “... We’ve just got to stick with it and things will start popping.”
New Mexico has allowed 107 rushing yards thus far, and the game plan likely will be similar as last year against the Broncos, when the Lobos held Jeremy McNichols to 54 yards.
ADVANTAGE: New Mexico
When the Broncos pass the ball ...
If it’s senior quarterback Montell Cozart starting for Boise State, as expected, he might be in for a big passing day. Last season, Brett Rypien threw for five touchdowns against the Lobos, who keyed on stopping the run and used blitzes that left cornerbacks on an island.
“It’s the same defensive plan we saw last year,” Hill said. “They like to bring pressure — that can be both good and bad.”
Hill hopes Cozart can stay in the pocket “and not have to rely on his legs all the time.” Boise State has allowed eight sacks, but New Mexico has only three. The Lobos have yielded 675 passing yards this season to New Mexico State and Abilene Christian.
ADVANTAGE: Boise State
When the Lobos run the ball ...
The triple option has given the Broncos nightmares throughout the years, but they were actually pretty good against it last year. Though New Mexico got plenty of yardage, Boise State only allowed New Mexico past the Broncos’ 45-yard line once in the first half in 2016. Boise State’s young and athletic 2017 defense has given up just 98 yards on the ground.
New Mexico, No. 1 in the nation in rushing in 2016, is 40th entering Thursday’s game (217.5 yards per game). A raw offensive line has been unable to create gaps up the middle, and teams have sent ends and linebackers wide to prevent pitches and outside runs.
“There’s concern, because we’re not what we’ve been right now,” coach Bob Davie said.
When the Lobos pass the ball ...
Boise State’s young defensive backfield has been outstanding, holding Washington State’s prolific passing attack without a touchdown the first 52 minutes last week and Troy without one in the opener. The pass rush has been impressive, tied for sixth in the nation with nine sacks.
wsu game(3)Boise State cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros disrupts a pass intended for Washington State wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr.
New Mexico focused this offseason on adding some more balance into the run-heavy offense. The Lobos threw 179 times last season, sixth-fewest in the nation, but so far have doubled their rate, with 56 attempts in two games.
“There’s an added dimension there,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.
ADVANTAGE: Boise State
Minus Saturday’s bad luck bounce off Reid Harrison-Ducros on a punt that led to Washington State’s tying score, the Broncos have been much improved on special teams. They have a punt return touchdown and are 4-for-4 on field goals. Opponents have averaged 17.3 yards per kickoff return and 17 total yards on punt returns.
New Mexico has two great specialists in punter Corey Bojorquez (48.7-yard average, No. 4 in the FBS) and kicker Jason Sanders, who has made 11 field goals in a row.
“That guy has done a really good job. He’s been sharp,” Harsin said.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alexander Mattison, running back
The sophomore is picking up a larger workload, as his 13 and 14 carries the first two games are the third- and second-most of his young career. His 27 rushes for 145 yards and two touchdowns lead the team. Boise State hopes to get him going against a New Mexico defense that has been solid against the run.
“He’s still young, he’s got a ton of talent, he’s going to be a phenomenal back for us,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.
Tyson Maeva, linebacker
At 6-foot, 214 pounds, the sophomore from San Diego isn’t exactly your typical-sized middle linebacker. But in this day of needing an athletic, smart presence on defense, that’s what Maeva brings. At Washington State, he had 10 tackles, including a sack, and also tipped a pass that was intercepted by junior defensive end Durrant Miles.
“Tyson has a great footbal IQ, he’s very intelligent,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “He prepares like he’s been here three, four years. His leadership is starting to show up.”
0903 Sports BSU vs Troy 07Boise State linebacker/end Curtis Weaver (99) celebrates a sack during the home opener against Troy.
Curtis Weaver, end/linebacker
Avalos knows a thing or two about big men scoring long touchdowns. His 92-yard interception return in the 2004 Liberty Bowl earned a few light-hearted jabs. When Weaver ran a fumble back 55 yards for a score Saturday at Washington State, Avalos joked that “it seemed like 10 minutes.”
But the 6-foot-3, 252-pound Weaver, who has dropped 35 pounds in a year, played every snap that drive, adding to the fatigue. There’s good reason: in the redshirt freshman’s first two career games, he has two sacks to go with the touchdown.
“He’s a playmaker, and if you can’t tell from the last two games, it’s going to show up all year,” senior linebacker Gabe Perez said.
lamarjordanNew Mexico quarterback Lamar Jordan (13) throws a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in 2016.
Lamar Jordan, quarterback
He’s shifty, and the perfect type of triple-option quarterback to frustrate any defense. The Lobos went 7-1 last season when he started. He’s rushed for 2,202 yards and 15 touchdowns with 2,937 yards passing and 18 touchdowns. He struggled mightily last week against New Mexico State with two interceptions and minus-8 rushing yards. Redshirt freshman Tevaka Tuioti replaced him and led a near-comeback, but coach Bob Davie is confident in the senior.
“As a team we have to get better and Lamar realizes that he has to play better, but he is absolutely our starter,” Davie said.
Jay Griffin IV, wide receiver
During fall camp, Davie told Albuquerque TV station KOB: “Keep your eye on Griffin. ... (he’s a) take-it-to-the-house guy.” After redshirting last season, the 5-foot-10, 162-pounder has been as advertised. Griffin has seven receptions for 131 yards with two touchdowns and also has a 61-yard touchdown run on his only carry.
Jake Rothschiller, nickel
The senior is not your typical size for a nickel, at 5-foot-8 and 181 pounds, but he’s a playmaker. A former walk-on, he is on pace for a career year. Through two games, he leads the team with 14 tackles, three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He also has recovered a fumble and has a 91-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“He is an amazing, amazing guy,” Davie said.
OFFENSE QuarterbackHt.Wt.Yr.3 Montell Cozart OR6-1205Sr.4 Brett Rypien6-2208Jr.TailbackHt.Wt.Yr.22 Alexander Mattison OR5-11214So.21 Ryan Wolpin5-8195Sr.34 Robert Mahone5-10211RFr.Wide receiver (X)Ht.Wt.Yr.1 Cedrick Wilson6-3188Sr.9 Bryan Jefferson5-11193So.Wide receiver (H)Ht.Wt.Yr.28 A.J. Richardson6-0209Jr81 Akilian Butler5-10193Jr.Wide receiver (Z)Ht.Wt.Yr.8 Sean Modster5-11196Jr.82 Octavius Evans6-1195Fr.Tight endHt.Wt.Yr.88 Jake Roh6-3227Sr.87 Alec Dhaenens6-3246Sr.Left tackleHt.Wt.Yr.76 Ezra Cleveland6-6296RFr.66 Isiah Moore6-4275Jr.Left guardHt.Wt.Yr.67 Garrett Larson6-4295So.52 Andrew Tercek6-1278Sr.CenterHt.Wt.Yr.59 Mason Hampton6-3295Sr.71 Donte Harrington6-2298RFr.Right guardHt.Wt.Yr.77 John Molchon6-5313So.79 Eric Quevedo6-4304So.Right tackleHt.Wt.Yr.74 Archie Lewis6-3299Sr.78 Andres Preciado6-6292Jr.DEFENSE Defensive endHt.Wt.Yr.91 Durrant Miles6-5253Jr.93 Chase Hatada OR6-3267So.45 Kayode Rufai6-4254RFr.Nose tackleHt.Wt.Yr.98 Sonatane Lui6-1305So.57 Emmanuel Fesili6-2302So.Defensive tackleHt.Wt.Yr.55 David Moa6-3271Jr.90 Daniel Auelua6-2298Sr.STUD endHt.Wt.Yr.53 Sam Whitney6-2231So.8 Jabril Frazier OR6-4243Jr.99 Curtis Weaver6-3252RFr.Weakside linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.38 Leighton Vander Esch6-4240Jr.44 Riley Whimpey6-1212Fr.Middle linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.58 Tyson Maeva6-0214So.25 Benton Wickersham6-2231RFr.Strongside linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.33 Gabe Perez6-4246Sr.9 Desmond Williams5-11201RFr.Boundary cornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.14 Tyler Horton5-11188Jr.15 Jalen Walker OR6-0172RFr.6 Michael Young6-0211Jr.Field cornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.27 Reid Harrison-Ducros5-10180So.26 Avery Williams5-9194RFr.Field safetyHt.Wt.Yr.4 DeAndre Pierce5-11174So.32 Jordan Happle5-11198RFr.Boundary safetyHt.Wt.Yr.10 Kekoa Nawahine6-2199So.37 Cameron Hartsfield5-10197Sr.SPECIAL TEAMS KickerHt.Wt.Yr.41 Haden Hoggarth OR6-0198Jr.46 Joel Velazquez6-0228RFr.PunterHt.Wt.Yr.46 Joel Velazquez OR6-0228RFr.49 Quinn Skillin6-4185Jr.SnappersHt.Wt.Yr.89 Brock Barr6-3204Sr.50 Nicholai Pitman5-11230So.HolderHt.Wt.Yr.49 Quinn Skillin6-4185Jr.Kick returnerHt.Wt.Yr.1 Cedrick Wilson6-3188Sr.26 Avery Williams5-9194RFr.Punt returnerHt.Wt.Yr.26 Avery Williams OR5-9194RFr.1 Cedrick Wilson6-3188Sr.
DateOpponentTime/ResultSaturday, Sept. 2TroyW, 24-13Saturday, Sept. 9at Washington StateL, 47-44 (3OT)Thursday, Sept. 14New Mexico6 p.m. (ESPN)Friday, Sept. 22Virginia6 p.m. (ESPN2)Friday, Oct. 6at BYU8:15 p.m. (ESPN)Saturday, Oct. 14at San Diego State8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)Saturday, Oct. 21WyomingTBA (ESPN Networks)Saturday, Oct. 28at Utah State8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)Saturday, Nov. 4NevadaTBA (ESPN Networks)Saturday, Nov. 11at Colorado State8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)Saturday, Nov. 18Air ForceTBA (ESPN Networks)Saturday, Nov. 25at Fresno State1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
OFFENSE QuarterbackHt.Wt.Yr.13 Lamar Jordan6-0192Sr.16 Tevaka Tuioti6-0190RFr.TailbackHt.Wt.Yr.3 Richard McQuarley5-11221Sr.4 Romell Jordan5-9173Sr.Running backHt.Wt.Yr.25 Tyrone Owens5-9187Jr.20 Daryl Chestnut5-8192Sr.Wide receiver (H)Ht.Wt.Yr.18 Chris Davis5-7175Sr.23 Jay Grifiin IV5-10162RFr.Wide receiver (Z)Ht.Wt.Yr.8 Q’ Drennan6-1185So.2 Delane Hart-Johnson6-4213Jr.Tight endHt.Wt.Yr.89 Dyson Chmura6-3223So.10 Zahneer Shuler6-1235Jr.Left tackleHt.Wt.Yr.72 Avery Jordan6-5265Jr.79 Chris Estrella6-5288So.Left guardHt.Wt.Yr.74 Ray Baylor III6-3293Sr.77 Charlie Grammel6-3310So.CenterHt.Wt.Yr.59 Blaise Fountain6-1280Sr.69 Beau Hott6-3275So.Right guardHt.Wt.Yr.55 Aaron Jenkins6-2307Jr.71 Kameron Smith6-7320RFr.Right tackleHt.Wt.Yr.78 Israel Castellanos6-4266So.50 Teton Saltes6-5270RFr.DEFENSE Left defensive endHt.Wt.Yr.53 Cody Baker6-3274Jr.98 Kene Okonkwo6-3272Sr.Nose tackleHt.Wt.Yr.96 Johnny Williams6-2303Sr.92 Jermane Conyers6-2326Jr.Defensive tackleHt.Wt.Yr.95 Garrett Hughes6-2264Sr.55 Emmanuel Joseph6-4260RFr.Rush endHt.Wt.Yr.99 Rhashaun Epting6-3219RFr.29 Jordan Flack6-3220Jr.Weakside linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.6 Austin Ocasio6-1223Sr.26 Sitivena Tamaivena6-1230Jr.Middle linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.33 Alex Hart6-2234Jr.45 Evahelotu Tohi6-2236Jr.NickelHt.Wt.Yr.28 Jake Rothschiller5-8181Sr.35 Kenneth Maxwell6-0193Sr.CornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.3 D’Angelo Ross5-8175Jr.19 Elijah Lilly5-10152So.CornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.13 Jalin Burrell6-0195Jr.21 Corey Hightower5-11175Fr.Free safetyHt.Wt.Yr.4 Bijon Parker6-0195Jr.5 Michael Sewell, Jr.6-1193Jr.Strong safetyHt.Wt.Yr.16 Jacob Girgle5-11187Jr.9 Stanley Barnwell, Jr.6-2198Jr.SPECIAL TEAMS KickerHt.Wt.Yr.95 Jason Sanders5-11190Sr.94 Andrew Shelley6-1179Fr.PunterHt.Wt.Yr.30 Corey Bojorquez6-0200Sr.95 Jason Sanders5-11190Sr.SnappersHt.Wt.Yr.34 Jared EnRico6-1299RFr.97 Lon Hampton6-1231Jr.HolderHt.Wt.Yr.30 Corey Bojorquez6-0200Sr.16 Tevaka Tuioti6-0190RFr.Kick returnerHt.Wt.Yr.19 Elijah Lilly5-10152So.20 Daryl Chestnut5-8192Sr.Punt returnerHt.Wt.Yr.18 Chris Davis5-7175Sr.4 Romell Jordan5-9173Sr.
DateOpponentTime/ResultSaturday, Sept. 2Abilene ChristianW, 38-14Saturday, Sept. 9New Mexico StateL, 30-28Thursday, Sept. 14at Boise State6 p.m. (ESPN)Saturday, Sept. 23at Tulsa11:30 a.m. (ESPN3)Saturday, Sept. 30Air Force5 p.m. (CBS Sports)Saturday, Oct. 14at Fresno State8 p.m.Friday, Oct. 20Colorado State8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)Saturday, Oct. 28at WyomingTBA (ESPN Networks)Saturday, Nov. 4Utah State3:30 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 11at Texas A&MTBAFriday, Nov. 17UNLV7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)Friday, Nov. 24at San Diego State1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)
Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn