Posted: 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013
By Hank Corless
WEEK 2: Boise State Broncos vs. University of Tennessee- Martin Skyhawks
WHEN: Saturday, September 7, 5:00 PM MT.
WHERE: Bronco Stadium, Boise, ID (37,000)
CONFERENCES: MWC vs. Ohio Valley Conference (FCS)
2013 SEASON: Boise State, 0-1; UT-Martin, 1-0
COACHES: Boise State head coach Chris Petersen (84-9); UT-Martin head coach Jason Simpson (46-34).
TV: ESPN3 and Cable One will offer the service in Boise.
WEB STREAMING: Gametracker
RADIO: KBOI (670 AM) and KKGL (96.9 FM)in Boise.
SERIES RECORD: First meeting
Boise State will be home after the bruising trip to Seattle last week where the Washington Huskies gave the Broncos their worst loss since 2005. This week Boise is expected to give the hometown crowd a decisive win over the University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks, an FCS team. A solid win over UT-Martin could add a little confidence into a team that is still looking to score its first touchdown this season.
UT-Martin is coming into Boise off a road trip of their own where they took down Chattanooga 31-21. Boise State might be favored, but the Skyhawks can pull an upset if they are taken lightly. Last year UT-Martin traveled to Memphis and beat the Tigers in their home opener, and then went on to close their own season with an 8-3 record. Skyhawk head coach Jason Simpson, who has led the Skyhawks since 2006, is not intimated by big programs. A total of 11 of his Skyhawks have been named an All-American.
What to look for when Tennessee-Martin has the ball: This season the O-line only returned 4 starters and the biggest weaknesses going into the season was having to replace both the QB, two top RB’s, and their top receiver. But if last week's performance was any indication those problems are well on its way to being solved.
By all accounts the Skyhawks employ a well-conceived and well-executed plan. Boise State will be looking at multiple sets and an offense that has been prolific in the passing game. The Skyhawks ranked No. 10 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing in 2012, throwing for 299.6 yards per game. In total offense they ranked No. 24 with an average of 427.4 yards last season. Last week QB’s Jarod Neal, 6-1, 180 lbs, and Dylan Favre, 5-10, 195 lbs, shared the time at quarterback. Neal went 10 of 15 for 79 yards and an interception, while Favre went 9-for-12 for 83 yards and a touchdown, and scrambled for 37 more. Ten of those passes went to standout WR Jeremy Butler, 6-3, 205 lbs, who had 91 yards receiving.
But it was in the the running department that UT-Martin made its money last week. D.J. McNeil was the leading rusher with 136 yards, and Trent Garland impressed with 116 of his own. When you consider that the Skyhawks put up 451 total yards of offense and remember that the Boise State defense allowed 592 yards to Washington, UT-Martin could spell trouble.
But if UT-Martin has a weakness other than size and depth it is in penalties. Last week they chalked up nine penalties for 105 yards and they can’t afford to do that against the Broncos.
What to look for when Boise State has the ball: the Broncos offense will want to make a few statements in front of their hometown fans. One is that the unimaginative, dummied down playbook the Broncos are using this year will work---at least against an FCS team. In the passing game senior QB Joe Southwick, 6-1, 202 lbs, has a lot to prove to himself after his struggles in Seattle. He needs to reinforce his confidence by producing a few plays longer than 16 yards and complete a few passes for more than 3.8 yards without an interception. Its strange that Southwick actually ran better in Husky Stadium than he passed with an average of 4.4 yards per carry.
After last week’s lackluster offensive performance Boise OC Robert Prince will probably opt to run the ball if Southwick fails to connect, and he’ll do that behind sophomore RB Jay Ajayi, 6-0, 215 lbs, and freshman RB Aaron Baltazar, 5-11, 185 lbs. Last week Ajayi had 23 carries for 93 yards and Baltazar bulled his way 10 times against a stubborn Husky defense for 49 yards.
The bottom line is that even in Boise State’s loss to Washington they had 346 total yards of offense with only 2 penalties. If the team decides they want to play this week they should get the double-digit win over the Skyhawks. In fact, the Broncos are a 35 1/2 point favorite. Anything less than that will be looked upon unfavorably as Boise State seeks to climb back into the polls.