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Vintage Boise State, Nothing Less

Red. Everywhere: red. There was some blue, some here and there, but the overwhelming motif was red, in the parking lot and the stands, most noticeably. This was a home game, pure and simple, nothing less. This was Georgia’s backyard, almost as if Athens was rented out for the day, so the whole party packed up, loaded up the van and moved everything wholesale to Atlanta. And you could see the slight hints of the intimidating atmosphere in Boise State’s somewhat sloppy play in the first half: a few missed tackles — I counted three, maybe four — a few missed blocks and a few blown opportunities, all of which led one to question the thought that the Broncos were good enough to take on all comers.

And that thought lasted about 22 minutes, give or take a minute or two in either direction. It didn’t last 22 minutes of game time, to be exact, but the idea that Boise might be in for a dogfight — befitting the environment, the team and the conference in question — lasted until the Broncos’ second drive of the second quarter. Ironically, it was a drive that ended with a Kellen Moore interception.

But the drive was vintage to that point, even if we acknowledge that Moore’s read on that turnover was far from vintage: it was quite unlike the Heisman contender, who was clearly reading a different coverage package altogether right from the snap. Thinking it was man coverage, Moore lofted a pass towards the middle of the field that was easily intercepted by Georgia’s Branden Smith.

Make one mistake; don’t do it again. Like his team as a whole, Moore wasn’t playing up to his recent standard over the first quarter and change: a bit uncomfortable, it seemed, Moore was finding his receivers but not often in stride, limiting the yards-after-catch and making the Boise offense a bit station-to-station, not big-play.

There were two simple reasons for that. The first is Moore’s own developing rapport with his new batch of receivers: after losing two standouts to graduation, the Broncos are rebuilding on the fly. No Austin Pettis, no Titus Young, no problem; if Boise can get past Georgia without that pair, the rebuilding process at receiver is already complete.

The second factor behind Boise’s lack of big-play ability was Georgia’s defensive line, which did a fairly nice job all evening both getting pressure on the quarterback and limiting the running lanes for Boise’s backs, though the line seemed to cool off in the fourth quarter. By that point, Doug Martin and D.J. Harper — especially Harper, who seems 100 percent — were having more success running the ball against Georgia’s 3-4 defense.

The lack of a deep threat wasn’t an issue. Not in the least: instead, Boise went methodical on Georgia, going short, shorter and shortest in the passing game — Moore didn’t break a sweat — and continuing to try running at Georgia’s front, albeit with a twist. Seeing that Martin was struggling gaining traction out of a traditional formation, the Broncos loosened things up a bit with freshman quarterback Grant Hedrick, who may have only rushed for 18 yards on a pair of carries but certainly gave the Bulldogs another look to consider.

Not to paint a picture that this was entirely a vintage Boise State performance, as while the end result was vintage, the road to 35-21 was dotted with potholes. Take the offensive line, for example. Give Nate Potter and company credit for protecting Moore superbly after a spotty first quarter, but it was clear that Georgia’s front seven had the size to dictate the tempo in the running game.

The secondary played well against an athletic receiver corps, but there were a handful of mental lapses in coverage: the two second half touchdowns, of course, but also a few occasions where it was clear that a defender was a bit out of place, making things a little easier for Aaron Murray and Georgia.

That you nitpick a win over an SEC opponent, in SEC country, with an SEC crowd, says all you need to know about Boise State as a program and this specific team, which looks terrific. As long as the Broncos maintain the sense of composure that allowed them to weather an early storm, there’s no reason to think this team can’t make a run towards a national title. And as long as Moore is under center, there’s no reason to think this team won’t keep its cool.

Like clockwork, Moore delivered. There was no qualms with his showing, which fits in nicely with his long history of superb performances against, well, everybody: Moore hit on 28 of 34 attempts for 261 yards and 3 scores, with his only blemish that second quarter interception. Following that turnover, Moore was the best player in the country.

And Boise State may be the best team in the country. We’ll know more as two things occur — these are just two of many, but two vital factors nonetheless: we’ll know more as Georgia opens up SEC play next Saturday against South Carolina, and we’ll know more as the Broncos move towards the heart of a schedule that includes Air Force, T.C.U. and San Diego State. Today, Boise looks better than ever, nothing less.

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  1. Rick says:

    Whether they get a shot at a national championship or not, watching this Boise team over the last few years has been a treat. The Kellen Moore is an era that wont be forgotten any time soon.

  2. Paul says:

    Meanwhile, Georgia disappoints — again. The only happy Bulldog fans I know are pulling for the team in Starkville.

  3. [...] secondary on the deep ball and that Georgia was doing a good job controlling Doug Martin, it simply refined its attack within its system. The lack of a deep threat wasn’t an issue. Not in the least: instead, Boise went methodical on [...]

  4. M Meyer says:

    Just face it people, the Broncos are an elite college football team. They deserve to be in the NC conversation.

  5. Bronco754 says:

    Nice write up here. However, what you did not mention was the fact that Boise State beat Georgia (fairly comfortably) without three of their starters in the lineup. There were the three kids from Amsterdam who were left back in Boise because somebody in Boise, who apparently has an axe to grind, brought up the fact that these kids have received items from the families in Boise who were their host families when they were in H.S. in Boise a few years ago. That being starting WR Geraldo Boldewijn (formerly Hiwat) and starting Safety Cedric Febis and 2nd string DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe.

    There was also the fact that BOTH of Boise State’s fullbacks did not play against Georgia due to injuries. That being starting fullback Dan Paul (out with a groin injury) and 2nd string fullback Chandler Koch (out with an unspecified injury). Boise State started that game against Georgia with 320 lbs backup defensive tackle Michael “Bacon” Atkinson as their fullback (because he played fullback in H.S. in Canada).

    Paul: Good points. Mentioned them in the preview and in advance of the game, of course. Atkinson getting snaps at fullback was one of the highlights of the game.

  6. Misthaufen says:

    Why is beating Georgia anything significant? The Dawgs were 6-7 last year and lost their superstar receiver and a lot of other players.

    Georgia is no better than the 4th best team in its division and the 9th best team in its conference, if that. Mark Richt is dead man walking and will likely be out before the end of the season.

    And while it was a “virtual home game” for Georgia, it was still away from its home in Athens.

    So, again, so what?

    As Boise, congrats for winning, but the lack of the deep ball may prove very significant over the course of the season.

  7. Dan says:

    Boise State gave up the first seven points on a trick play and then proceeded to score 28 in a row on a bigger, faster Georgia team. Greater experience, superior coaching and better execution carried the day. There is no other way to spin it.

    Boise State is one of the best stories in college football because their program shows that it is possible to win at the highest levels in spite of being out-spent, out-recruited and marginalized by the establishment. They are the true American story.

  8. Seth says:

    @Misthaufen: Aren’t you a TCU fan? I would doubt that there are 8 teams better than Georgia in the SEC and 3 better in the west, the voters and coaches obviously disagree with you so far. We’ll know more after next week. Lots can change in this sport which is why we all love to follow it. The twists and turns are a natural real-life drama. The deep ball is something that will come, they didn’t have one last year vs. VT either but it slowly crept in as Young and Moore got the chemistry down and were comfortable with it. Gotta take what the defense gives you too.

  9. Jeff says:

    Obviously somebody didn’t actually read the article.. The reason Moore did not throw deep is that Georgia was taking it away with there defensive scheme.. so he killed them with a short precise passing game. Reading comprehension is important

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