No. 21 Boise State ready for defensive-minded Utah State
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Boise State has rolled through Mountain West play since dropping its lone game against BYU in the final minute of regulation. The 21st-ranked Broncos have outscored their four opponents 204-24 since the loss, but coach Bryan Harsin doesn’t want his team to get comfortable.
Boise State (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West) play at Utah State on Friday and Harsin knows the recent offensive explosions won’t come so easily. The Aggies (3-2, 2-0), have the No. 2 scoring defense in the conference and are allowing just 19.2 points per game. The run defense is also No. 2 after giving up 102.2 yards per game.
”They’ll challenge you. … They’re trying to attack,” Harsin said. ”That’s a mindset.”
The Broncos have the top passing offense in the Mountain West, led by freshman Brett Rypien. That, however, puts a premium on protection and Boise State expects the Aggies to bring plenty of pressure from a unit that has eight sacks in the last two games. Harsin specifically mentioned linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who had a two sacks last game.
”He might be one of the best college football players out there,” Harsin said. ”That guy is very good. We’ve got a huge challenge to try to block him and contain him.”
Utah State is trying to hold onto a share of the Mountain West Mountain Division lead. The Aggies, Broncos and Air Force are all tied with 2-0 conference records. Boise State, though, has won 12 straight against Utah State.
”It’s not the championship game, but it’s a big game and basically puts the winner in the driver’s seat,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. ”That’s why it’s important, no question. We’re excited for the challenge.
”What Bryan Harsin and his staff do schematically makes you rethink a lot of things you do, especially in the run game and protection-wise on offense.”
Things to watch when Utah State hosts Boise State
MCNICHOLS WATCH: Boise State RB Jeremy McNichols continues to lead the country with 14 total touchdowns, but his status for Friday night is unknown. Harsin said McNichols was ”looked at” for a possible concussion after leaving the Colorado State win following his 1-yard TD run in the third quarter. If McNichols isn’t cleared, the Broncos have depth at running back with Stanford transfer Kelsey Young and junior Devan Demas getting their share of carries so far this season.
PICK ME: The secondary has been a strength for Boise State during most of its run of success and this season is no different. Darian Thompson and Jonathan Moxey both had interceptions last week against Colorado State and the Broncos lead the country with 13 picks. Thompson’s interception was the 18th of his career, moving him into a tie for the all-time lead in the Mountain West.
BEST SERVED COLD: Utah State was trounced 50-19 when the two teams met in 2014. Defensive end Ricky Ali’ifua, however, said revenge isn’t a motivation this week. ”Sometimes that can cloud your responsibilities as far as what you’re supposed to do and … and sometimes drain you mentally,” Ali’ifua said. ”I remember it very vividly and it’s very fresh in my mind. … If we want to reach our goal of a Mountain West championship, we know the road goes through Boise.”
MIGHTY MEYERS: Utah State sophomore quarterback Kent Myers is 2-0 as a starter since senior Chuckie Keeton went down with a knee injury. He’s 7-1 as a starter in his two years and was named Mountain West offensive player of the week two weeks ago. Myers has been strong with the ball and hasn’t thrown an interception in 46 attempts. He’s completed 65.2 percent of his passes and has a 152.06 efficiency rating. That will be tested by the opportunistic Broncos defense.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report.