“Don’t Get Trampled!”
The first final thought this week was the same one I had as last week’s 37-7 win over Idaho State was winding down; don’t get trampled by the Broncos!
That was a product of both having seen Oregon State make a lot of mistakes in the process of their win over an over-matched Bengal team from the bottom of the Big Sky Conference, and having seen Boise State beat Washington State the week before. Especially after glancing at the Reser Stadium scoreboard when the Cougars’ 56-6 final score over Idaho, a team that’s still better than Idaho State by a level and 20+ scholarship players, the Vandals descending into the Big Sky in 2 years not withstanding.
The opening line that makes the Beavers a 13.5 point home dog that appeared early this week did nothing to change that either.
And then Coach Andersen proceeded to provide Boise State some bulletin board material, saying he would prefer to see the relationship and rivalry with the Broncos not be continued!
Even though his stated reasoning, wanting non-conference road games in more fertile recruiting grounds in Florida and Texas, appeared to make some sense on the surface (it doesn’t really, but that’s a subject for another story), it was instantly additional motivation for the perpetually dis-respected guys from the blue turf, an opponent that’s its popular for a lot of Pac-12 types to dismiss as inherently inferior.
Never mind that the Broncos are 9-3 against the Pac-12 since 2006, plus a pair of wins over Utah before the Utes joined the conference. Or that Boise State is the winningest program in FBS this century. Or that they have the third highest winning percentage ALL-TIME of any program in the FBS. Make no mistake, the Broncos are an A-list program, and have 14 straight years of being ranked at some point to support that. A win today in Corvallis stands to boost Boise State back into the top 25 again.
But my next thought is that a lot of the mistakes (not all of them, but a fair number of them) last Saturday can be partially attributed to the rust that a 16 day layoff immediately after an early start to the season produced.
And my next thought was that a lot of these OSU players are also motivated to change the narrative about them. The popular notion is players don’t read what is written about them, or pay attention to the line, but that’s hogwash. Total hogwash.
Players, especially top-tier ones, like those at FBS and Power-5 programs, want to compete against quality opponents, and compete well against them.
Punt fielding issues or not, I expect Victor Bolden to do his level best today.
Ryan Nall would love to do some trampling (of Broncos) of his own.
Brandon Arnold would love to add a pickoff of Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien to his highlights.
And it goes on as you go down the roster.
So I expect effort, and a game that’s in doubt for much of the afternoon. Hopefully, including some minutes in the fourth quarter.
Boise State has also never won in Reser, losing in both of their visits, which were over a decade ago.
Realistically though, it will take a level of performance by the Beavers not seen from an Andersen team todate, even considering the Civil War, to win the day against the Broncos. Whether the offensive line is quick enough to do that is a huge question mark for me, and most everyone else, for that matter.
So too is whether the defensive line can put enough pressure on Rypien, though I’m sure we will see an array of blitzes to augment that. Whether that will backfire to the tune of a big game for RB Jeremy McNichols, and some throw behind the blitz passes that turn into explosion plays, is an even bigger concern. Even an expectation; Boise State will hit some big plays. Count on it, and get over it.
But also counter it.
My final thought is that this is a huge opportunity for co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback Coach/Play Caller Kevin McGiven to respond to the misgivings many have about what we have seen from the offense.
Oregon State doesn’t have Luke Falk, who led a Cougar comeback that almost pulled off the upset on the blue turf, but a well-conceived and well-executed offensive game plan can put any team in contention with the Broncos, this Beaver team included.
It’s the key to the game, as well as the unknown, x-factor.
I think we will know a lot more about the Beavers come dinner time tonight than we did last Saturday at the same time.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)