No. 20 Boise State returns home to host young UConn
No. 20 Boise State very quietly put together one of the more impressive performances of the season’s opening weekend.
While UConn is far from a marquee opponent — the Broncos are more than four-touchdown favorites — the Huskies are still a recognizable program making a cross-country trip to serve as Boise State’s opponent for the Broncos’ 2018 debut on their blue turf.
The Huskies are an appetizer for next week when the Broncos face what is likely to be their biggest test of the season playing at Oklahoma State.
The Broncos opened the season with a resounding 56-20 rout of Troy on the road. Brett Rypien got his senior season off to a fantastic start by throwing for 305 yards and four touchdowns.
The Broncos defense unveiled the “Turnover Throne” and recorded four takeaways. The only downside of the trip to Alabama was some shaky play on a special teams and a possible arm injury to cornerback and punt returner Avery Williams that may limit his availability against the Huskies.
UConn would rather its opener be forgotten. The Huskies were overmatched and blown out at home by Central Florida. UConn’s young, inexperienced defense, which featured six freshmen getting significant playing time, surrendered 652 yards of offense to the Knights.
The task for those youngsters gets no easier against the Broncos.
UConn coach Randy Edsall said that’s just part of the growth his young players need to experience.
“They’ve never had to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Edsall said. “They’ve never done that. And now they come here, and they’re going to be uncomfortable.”
Here are other things to watch as the Huskies and Broncos meet:
FAVORITE TARGET: It didn’t take very long for Rypien to find himself a new favorite target in the Boise State passing game. Sean Modster had seven receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the opener. No other Boise State player had more than three receptions. Modster scored on TDs of 20 and 54 yards, with the second touchdown becoming important in establishing a big-play threat in the passing game after the graduation of Cedrick Wilson.
SOLID DEBUT: One of the bright spots in UConn’s opener was the play of quarterback David Pindell. The senior rushed for 157 yards to go along with his 266 yards through the air. The 157 yards rushing were the most ever by a UConn quarterback, but while that got the attention his passing was also solid. Pindell completed 27 of 41 throws and he nearly topped his career high in passing yards.
Now he faces a Boise State defense that has struggled at times in the past with dual-threat quarterbacks.
GROUND ATTACK: While the Broncos were pleased with their offensive output in the opener, they would have liked to see more from the running game. Alexander Mattison had just 56 yards rushing on 14 carries. The Broncos finished with 111 yards on the ground and 44 of those came from backup QB Chase Cord on a long TD run in the fourth quarter. UConn allowed 296 yards rushing to UCF.
GO WEST: The trip to Boise is the farthest West the Huskies have ever traveled for a game. They played at BYU a few years ago, but Boise is a bit further. The Huskies made the trip on Thursday rather than the day before the game.
UConn has never played a game in the Pacific Time Zone.