Boise State's offensive surge helps team identity

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 3:21 PM

Chad Cripe

BOISE, Idaho - Boise State junior tight end Gabe Linehan said Tuesday that the Broncos’ offensive performance last week against Miami (Ohio) was a needed confidence booster going into Thursday’s showdown with BYU.

"It meant a lot," Linehan said. "It meant a lot for our egos. It meant a lot for really our identity going into this next game, which is a big game. We definitely needed that."

Boise State’s tight ends haven’t been a major factor in the pass game yet. They have combined for four catches for 56 yards and no touchdowns. Holden Huff could have had a TD last week, but quarterback Joe Southwick misfired under pressure.

"It is kind of fluky," Linehan said. "We have the pass plays there. Our game plan is loaded with good tight end plays that really can outmatch the defense. They’ll come. They’ll come when they come. That’s what I’ve kind of learned. We’ll all get our balls and we’re going to have success and we have the right guys to do it. It’s just a matter of time."

Redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu said his first college game "was definitely a shock," but he’s getting comfortable.

"I feel like I’ve been playing well speed-wise, getting the offensive tackle off-balance and using what I’ve got to my advantage," he said.

One of the biggest lessons, he said: handling adversity.

"Everything is not going to go like you want it to be," he said. "You’ve just got to keep fighting. It’s going to be a dogfight."

The defensive line has played well so far this year. Sophomore end Demarcus Lawrence leads the team with 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks, senior tackle Mike Atkinson is fourth with 12 tackles and the group has all four of the Broncos’ sacks.

"We’re young, but we can rush the passer," said Ukwuachu, who has three tackles and helped create the pick six at Michigan State by pressuring the quarterback. "If we can do one thing, it’s that. We just have to keep working on stopping the run. I feel like we’re talented. If we keep working on the details and techniques, we’ll be pretty good."

Said middle linebacker Tommy Smith: "They’re just physical, and that’s one thing we need from the front."

Sophomore wide receiver Matt Miller lowered his shoulder and smashed into a tackler on a 13-yard catch immediately after Boise State fell behind 9-8 in the second quarter last week.

Six plays later, the Broncos scored the first of four consecutive touchdowns.

"I wouldn’t say frustrated," he said of his mindset. "We kind of needed a little spark. I figured that was a good opportunity to get the offense going."

Miller said the bye week was a big help for the Broncos’ offense, which nearly tripled its output from game one to game two.

"We kind of got some things ironed out on the offensive side of the ball," Miller said. "Being able to run the ball really opened up the playbook for us." Boise State players and coaches all have talked about the physicality of BYU.

"You can tell that they really have a passion for their play, which is consistent over the years with BYU," Linehan said. "They just bring it. They’re aggressive. They’re really playing hard."

Boise State did not make any changes on its depth chart this week. Jake Broyles still is listed as the starting right tackle. He missed the Miami game with an injury but was close to playing.

Boise State defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski on the short week: "A lot of what you do is what you do. You’re not going to put in anything crazy or exotic."

Coach Chris Petersen and Kwiatkowski had the same reaction when asked about the Broncos’ lack of penalties in the first two games. They knocked on wood.

The Broncos are tied for fifth in the nation with three penalties per game and are tied for 19th with 34.5 penalty yards per game.

"Guys have been playing smart," Kwiatkowski said.

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