CFN Take: Boise State Beats Bulldogs For MW
Posted Dec 6, 2014

2014 Boise State Broncos ... Head Coach: Bryan Harsin

2014 Boise State Broncos

2014 Schedule
Record: 11-2

Aug. 28 Ole Miss (Atl) L 35-13
Sep. 6 Colorado St W 37-24
Sep. 13 at Connecticut W 38-21
Sep. 20 Louisiana-Laf W 34-9
Sep. 27 at Air Force L 28-14
Oct. 4 at Nevada W 51-46
Oct. 17 Fresno State W 37-27
Oct. 24 BYU W 55-30
Nov. 8 at New Mexico W 60-49
Nov. 15 San Diego St W 38-29
Nov. 22 at Wyoming W 63-14
Nov. 29 Utah State
Dec. 6 Fresno State W 28-14
Dec. 6 Mountain West Championship
Boise State 28, Fresno State 14

And You Care Because … Boise State won the Mountain West title taking a 28-0 lead on Grant Hedrick touchdown runs from 20 and 21 yards out, a nine-yard Jay Ajayi touchdown dash, and a 63-yard pick six from Tanner Vallejo. Fresno State stayed alive with a two-yard Josh Quezada run and a 25-yard touchdown catch from Greg Watson late, but that was as close as it would get.
What Else? Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 9-of-16 passes for 155 yards, and ran nine times for a team-high 81 yards and two touchdowns
- Fresno State QB Brian Burrell completed 30-of-45 passes for 332 yards and a score with three picks. Josh Harper caught ten passes for 131 yards
- Time of possession: Fresno State 35:53 – Boise State 24:07
- Rushing yards: Boise State 149 – Fresno State 41
Game Rating: C-

Nov. 29 at Boise State 50, Utah State 19
And You Care Because … Jay Ajayi rolled through the great Utah State run defense with five touchdown dashes from nine, 19, eight, 62 and one yard out, and the Boise State defense did the rest. Utah State got a blocked conversion attempt for two points, and Kent Myers ran for a nine-yard score, but Ajayi and the Boise State ground game were too much. Grant Hedrick threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Sperbeck and a two-yarder to Alec Dhaenens.
What Else? Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 27 times for 229 yards and five scores
- Utah State QB Kent Myers completed 16-of-28 passes for 159 yards with an interception, and ran 11 times for 43 yards and a score
- Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 18-of-24 passes for 191 yards and two scores
- Third down conversions; Boise State 8-of-16 – Utah State 1-of-11
Game Rating: D+

Nov. 22 Boise State 63, at Wyoming 14
And You Care Because … Wyoming got a six-yard Brian Hill touchdown run in the second. That was the only bright spot for the Cowboys in the first three quarters as Boise State got out to a 56-7 lead with Jay Ajayi running for scores from 17 and 20 yards out, and taking a pass 73 yards for a score. Grant Hedrick threw three touchdown passes, Darian Thompson returned an interception for a score, and Donte Deayon returned a punt for a score. Hill finally broke the drought with a one-yard run in the fourth.
What Else? Total yards: Boise State 558 – Wyoming 227
- Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 16 times for 110 yards and two scores, and caught two passes for 92 yards and a touchdown
- Wyoming RB Brian Hill ran 21 times for 65 yards and two scores, and caught four passes for 32 yards
- Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 13-of-19 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, and ran four times for 22 yards
Game Rating: D+

Nov. 15 at Boise State 38, San Diego State 29
And You Care Because … Boise State spotted San Diego State the first 20 points as Donnel Pumphrey ran for a 32-yard score and Donny Hageman kicked two of his three field goals, and then it was all Broncos. Jay Ajayi ran for scores from five, three and ten yards out, and Grant Hedrick threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Sperbeck and ran for a 13-yard score, but the Aztecs stayed in it with a Pumphrey 34-yard scoring run midway through the fourth. Hedrick’s run put it away in the final minutes.
What Else? Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 31 times for 134 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught four passes for 25 yards
- San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey ran 24 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns, and ran three times for 28 yards
- San Diego State QB Quinn Kaehler completed 17-of-29 passes for 173 yards and a score with a pick
- Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 19-of-28 passes for 187 yards and a score with an interception, and ran 11 times for 41 yards and a score
Game Rating: B

Nov. 8 Boise State 60, at New Mexico 49
And You Care Because … In a wild shootout with close to 1,300 combined yards, Boise State four touchdown passes and two scoring runs from Grant Hedrick to help overcome a 28-14 deficit. Teriyon Gipson ran for three touchdowns for the Lobos, and Jhurrell Pressley added two score, but Boise State rolled at will over the last 23 minutes with 24 unanswered points. Jay Ajayi ran for touchdowns from four and 14 yards out for the Broncos, and Hendricks found Shane Williams-Rhoads an 18-yard score and Chaz Anderson for a 36-yard touchdown in the fourth before Ajayi put the game out of reach on his second scoring run.
What Else? Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 21-of-32 passes for 367 yards and four scores, and ran 15 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns
- New Mexico RB Teriyon Gipson ran 24 times for 205 yards and three scores
- Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 31 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns, and caught one pass for 75 yards and a score
- New Mexico RB Jhurell Pressley ran seven times for 154 yards and two scores
Game Rating: B

Oct. 24 at Boise State 55, BYU 30
And You Care Because … Grant Hedrick and the Boise State offense were unstoppable. Hedrick found four different receivers for touchdowns, ran for a 12-yarder, and Jay Ajayi ran for two scores in the rout. A 78-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Sperbeck put the Broncos up 20-0 in the second quarter, and Shane Williams-Rhodes answered a 17-yard touchdown run by BYU’s Jamaal Williams with a 49-yard score. To complete a wild few minutes, BYU answered right back with an 81-yard touchdown pass to Colby Pearson, only to be hit with two more Boise State touchdowns late in the half as the Broncos went into the locker room up 41-16. It wasn’t all easy for Hedrick, throwing a pick six to Fred Warner early in the third, but Boise State was never threatened.
What Else? Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 24-of-31 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns with an interception, and ran eight times for 29 yards and a touchdown
- BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 23-of-38 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and he ran for a score
- Boise RB Jay Ajayi ran 26 times for 118 yards and two score, and caught two passes for 26 yards
- Total yards: Boise State 637 – BYU 322
Game Rating: C

Oct. 17 at Boise State 37, Fresno State 27
And You Care Because … Jay Ajayi ran for two first half scores and Grant Hedrick hit Shane Williams-Rhodes for a 21-yard score and caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Thomas Sperbeck as Boise State put away a game Fresno State. With the game tied at 27 in the fourth, Boise State went 75 yards in 17 plays finishing off with the Hendrick scoring grab, and put away in the final minutes on a 24-yard Dan Goodale field goal. The Bulldogs got Marteze Waller touchdown runs from 76 and three yards out, and Brian Burrell hit Josh Harper on a 32-yard touchdown pass, but the offense couldn’t get the ball back long enough in the fourth to get any rhythm back.
What Else? Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 30 times for 158 yards and two scores
- Time of possession: Boise State 35:33 – Fresno State 24:27
- Fresno State RB Marteze Waller ran 18 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 12 yards
- Total yards: Boise State 492 – Fresno State 313
Game Rating: B

Oct. 4 at Boise State 51, Nevada 46
And You Care Because … In a crazy, high-scoring shootout, it was the Boise State defense that came up with one final stop to end it, stalling a Nevada comeback. The Wolf Pack started out the fourth with a pick six from Ian Seau to pull within eight, but Boise State pulled away with Jay Ajayi’s third rushing touchdown of the day from two yards out. Nevada got a 12-yard Jarred Gipson touchdown catch, and a 45-yard Brent Zuzo field goal to pull within six, but that was it as the last drive stalled. Nevada QB Cody Fajardo was picked off four times, with one brought back for a score by Tyler Gray, but he ran for two touchdowns including dashes from 13 and 56 yards out in a nip-and-tuck battle. Boise State was down five in the first half, but went on a 28-7 scoring run helped by a two-yard Grant Hedrick run and Ajayi scores from one and 26 yards away going into the fourth.
What Else? Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 27 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns, and caught three passes for 18 yards
- Nevada QB Cody Fajardo completed 23-of-43 passes for 306 yards and three scores with four interceptions, and ran 12 times for a team-high 71 yards and two touchdowns
- Turnovers: Nevada 4 – Boise State 3
- The two teams combined to convert 17-of-29 third down chances
Game Rating: A-

Sept. 27 at Air Force 28, Boise State 14
And You Care Because … In a huge win for the program, Air Force scored the first 28 points of the game with Garett Brown, Kale Pearson and Jacobi Owens all coming up with short scores and Will Conant hitting field goals from 25 and 21 yards out. The problem? Boise State turnovers, giving up seven of them with five interceptions. The Broncos tried to rally late with Ryan Finley throwing two touchdown passes, but it was way too late.
What Else? Air Force’s Weston Steelhammer picked off three passes
- Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 18-of-33 passes for 209 yards and four picks, and Ryan Finley completed 12-of-25 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns with one interception
- Air Force QB Kale Pearson completed 5-of-11 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown and ran 20 times for 127 yards and a score.
- Rushing yards: Air Force 287 – Boise State 97
Game Rating: B

Sept. 20 at Boise State 34, Louisiana-Lafayette 9
And You Care Because … Jay Ajayi ran for three first half scores and Dan Goodale hit three second half field goals as Boise State had few problems putting away the Ragin’ Cajuns. ULL was under pressure all game long, and finally got in the end zone early in the fourth down 31-3 with a seven-yard Elijah McGuire run.
What Else? Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 27 times for 150 yards and three scores, and caught five passes for 37 yards
- Louisiana-Lafayette RB Elijah McGuire led the team with 31 rushing yards and a score on seven carries and caught ten passes for 106 yards
- Third down conversions: Boise State 8-of-17 – Louisiana-Lafayette 2-of-15
- Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 24-of-31 passes for 237 yards
Game Rating: D+

Sept. 13 Boise State 38, at Connecticut 21
And You Care Because … Connecticut somehow hung around with Boise State, despite playing sloppily throughout. The Huskies made a series of gaffes and turnovers, yet only trailed the Broncos, 24-21, at the outset of the fourth quarter. Boise State, though, closed the deal with a pair of touchdowns over the final 10 minutes, capped by a Donte Deayon 50-yard interception return, the team’s second defensive touchdown of the afternoon.
What Else? New UConn coach Bob Diaco has a laundry list of things to work on in his first year. Topping that list will be improving in pass protection after allowing eight sacks to Boise State.
- It was a buy day for Bronco pitch-and-catch combo Grant Hedrick to Matt Miller. Hedrick threw a pair of touchdowns to Miller and caught one … from Miller.
- Despite getting battered from start to finish, Husky QB Chandler Whitmer stood tall in the pocket to help keep UConn in the game. He went 16-of-29 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and two picks.
- Boise State won despite not getting its usual production from star RB Jay Ajayi. Ajayi only managed to rush for 39 yards on 18 carries, while being a non-factor in the passing game. However, it was encouraging that the Broncos could win a game with defense and Hedrick’s arm.
Game Rating: C

Sept. 6 at Boise State 37, Colorado State 24
And You Care Because … Boise State broke open a close game with 24 straight points with two of Jay Ajayi’s four touchdowns scoring from 14 and 21 yards out in the second after coming up with an eight-yarder in the first. Grant Hedrick ran for a score and found Matt Miller for a 44-yard touchdown. Colorado State tried to rally late with Garrett Grayson finding Joe Hansley for a 55-yard touchdown pass and hitting Jasen Oden Jr. for a seven-yarder, but couldn’t get closer than 13.
What Else? Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 33 times for 219 yards and two scores, and caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.
- The Colorado State running game that rocked Colorado was shut down cold. Dee Hart ran ten times for 16 yards, and the team finished with 28 yards on 23 carries.
- CSU QB Garrett Grayson completed 31-of-58 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns with two picks. Joe Hansley caught seven passes for 149 yards and a score and Rashard Higgins caught 11 passes for 143 yards.
- Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 22-of-33 passes for 352 yards and two scores with a pick, and he ran 16 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. Matt Miller caught eight passes for 151 yards and a score.
Game Rating: C+

Aug. 28 Ole Miss 35, Boise State 13 in Atlanta
And You Care Because … It wasn’t pretty in any way, but Ole Miss was able to pull away late. Down 7-6, the Rebels got three touchdown passes from Bo Wallace in just over five minutes in the fourth quarter, connecting with Laquon Treadwell from 14 yards away, getting helped by Quincy Adeboyejo on a 31 yard touchdown, and finding Cody Core for a 76-yard touchdown to pull away.
What Else? Yuck. Boise State QB Grant Hedrick gave away four interceptions, Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace threw three. The Rebels committed 14 penalties, Boise State nine. The Rebels couldn’t run the ball, Boise State couldn’t complete enough downfield passes.
- Bo Wallace has to be far more careful. He exploded late and threw for 387 yards and four scores, but the three interceptions kept Boise State in the game.
- Grant Hedrick threw for 265 yards, but he had an awful game making too many careless mistakes and with several poor choices. The game was there for the taking, and he and the offense couldn’t do it.
- Ole Miss star Robert Nkemdiche only made three tackles and broke up a pass, but he was unblockable early on. Boise State had to adjust, and it seemed to make Hedrick have to hurry a bit too much.
Game Rating: C

2014 Boise State Preview  

Good luck, Bryan Harsin. Either you’re going to take Boise State two ten-plus win seasons every year with championships and flirtations with the new College Football Playoff, or you’re just not pulling your weight.

And it’s not just Chris Petersen and his phenomenal 92-12 run – with last year’s eight-win campaign an epic disaster compared to the rest of his era. Harsin has to deal with the history of Dan Hawkins, who went 53-11 in his five years with a three-year stretch going 36-3 and not losing a WAC game.

Harsin also has to deal with Dirk Koetter, who got the ball rolling going 26-10 from 1998 to 2000, parlaying two straight double-digit win seasons into the Arizona State gig.

Of course, a funny thing happened to both Koetter and Hawkins after leaving the screaming blue turf – they suddenly became mediocre college football coaches. Petersen is just getting his era rolling at Washington, but to go out on a limb, he’s probably not going to crank out seven straight seasons with ten or more wins and just eight losses.

So what is it about Boise State? Why has this thing worked so well, and can Harsin crank things back up after they started to dip a bit last year?

Part of the success was the conference – the old WAC and the Big West were nowhere near as good as the Mountain West is now, and teams are gunning for the Broncos more than ever. Boise State is the powerhouse. It’s the gold standard. It’s the program that everyone in the Mountain West wants to be like, at least in terms of consistent success and national attention, and now it’s up to Harsin to keep it that way.

Fortunately for him, Petersen is leaving a heater of a team with enough talent, athleticism and experience to show that last season was simply a blip. Considering how relatively light the schedule is – with almost all the tough Mountain West home games on the blue turf – there’s a chance to kick off the new era with a thunderous bang.

The offense wasn’t bad last season, and this year the weapons should be fantastic with RB Jay Ajayi and receivers Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes all dangerous. The defense that took a step back returns eight starters and should be far better in the secondary.

It’s Mountain West title or bust, and for Harsin, there’s no grace period. That’s the legacy left by Koetter, Hawkins and Petersen.

What to watch for on offense: Expect a more efficient and effective passing game. Bryan Harsin and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford know how to get a passing game moving, and while throwing for 3,610 yards and 28 touchdowns was hardly a bad year, the new coaching staff can push for 4,000. Grant Hedrick might not be Kellen Moore, but he’s a veteran who had the entire offseason to prepare for being The Guy, after last season getting into the mix mostly after Joe Southwick went down. With Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes back after combining for 165 catches and close to 2,000 yards, the passing game that was the 20th most efficient in America should be dangerous.

What to watch for on defense: Can the secondary stop someone? The pass rush was good enough, and there was talent and athleticism in the secondary, but the pass defense was lit up for 3,240 yards and 17 touchdowns after allowing 2,203 yards and four scores in 2012, 2,741 yards in 2011 and 21 touchdowns in 2011, and 1,962 yards and eight scores in 2010. Making things statistically worse, that’s counting games against Air Force and New Mexico teams that couldn’t throw a forward pass. Everyone buy those two teams connected on a whopping 60% of their passes or more, and it was nightmare time against the teams with decent quarterbacks. Washington, Fresno State, Oregon State and Nevada all spent their respective games playing catch. Fortunately, all four starters return and experience should translate into more production. There’s depth to play around with, too – expect a major turnaround.

The team will be far better if … the defense doesn’t allow so many first downs. It goes hand-in-hand with the problems stopping the better passing teams, but the defense simply let too many teams keep things moving allowing a whopping 295 first downs – more than 100 the defense gave up in 2010 and 70 more than it allowed in 2012. The Broncos allowed 25 first downs or more five times last season after giving up that many or more just once – the loss to Michigan State – in 2012, no times in 2011 and just twice in 2010.

The schedule: It’s not going to be as easy as going 13-0 if the Broncos can beat Ole Miss to start the season, but if they come away from Atlanta with a win over a rising star SEC program, look out. Going to Connecticut and hosting Louisiana-Lafayette and BYU aren’t going to be walks in the park, but if the team is good enough to think big, it has to be good enough to win those games. The rough stretch comes early with three road games in a four week stretch, closing out with a massive landmine at Nevada. Fortunately, there’s a week off to prepare for Fresno State, and that’s the theme for the Mountain West campaign – almost all of the big games are at home. Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State and Utah State all come to Boise, while going to Air Force, New Mexico and Wyoming – along with the Nevada date – isn’t that bad.

Best offensive player: Junior RB Jay Ajayi. The talented speed back is a dangerous threat every time he touches the ball, and after earning all-star honors last season, he should be even better behind a good line and with teams having to worry more about the passing game. The junior took over the job from the start, and he was the only running back who made any real noise whatsoever – quarterback Grant Hedrick was the No. 2 rusher and freshman Aaron Baltazar came up with just 234 yards to Ajayi’s 1,425. Stopping Ajayi will be everyone’s No. 1 priority, but that’s not going to be easy. Even when keyed on last year, he still produced.

Best defensive player: Junior CB Donte Deayon. The secondary might have had a nightmare of a time last season, but Deayon came on to be one of the bright spots making 54 tackles with nine broken up passes and six picks. He’s not big, but he’s physical, and this year he’ll combine forces with Bryan Douglas on the other side and the safety tandem of Bryan Douglas and Darian Thompson to improve the pass D – at least that’s the hope. Deayon has the burst to the ball and the lockdown potential, but he has to be prepared for teams staying away from him after his statistically strong 2013.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore DE Gabe Perez. The one gaping hole going into the season is a sure-thing pass rusher after losing Demarcus Lawrence and his 72 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. Perez isn’t all that big at 6-4 and 235 pounds, but he’s quick off the ball and he showed potential last season as a good part of the rotation. No one’s expecting him to be Lawrence, but he and Beau Martin on the other side have to get to the quarterback on a regular basis or else the coaching staff will have to get creative.

The season will be a success if … the Broncos win ten games or more and take the Mountain West title. The talent might not be there to beat Ole Miss, and it’s not going to be easy to take out BYU at home or Nevada on the road, but after last year’s dip and with a new energy and a new coaching staff, proving that things are back on track with a season with ten or more wins and with a conference title will more than do that. Ramp the expectations up to 11 if there’s a win over Ole Miss.

Key game: Aug. 28 vs. Ole Miss. One of the big keys to Boise State’s success over the years was the ability to rise up and slap down a big boy when given the chance. The Broncos rolled into Atlanta to start the 2011 season and took out Georgia. They tagged Virginia Tech in what amounted to a Hokie home game in Landover, Maryland to start the 2010 season, and beat two fantastic Oregon teams early in both 2008 and 2009. Even in 2012 when they lost to Michigan State in East Lansing, it was a tough battle. And then came last year. With a chance to make a statement early, they got blown away by Washington 38-6. This time around, if Bryan Harsin can pull out a win in Atlanta against the Rebels, watch how quickly the national spotlight turns to Boise.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: Opponents 74 for 618 yards – Boise State 54 for 489 yards
- Completion Percentage: Boise State 329-of-466 (70.6%) – Opponents 294-of-455 (64.6%)
- Time of Possession: Opponents 31:37 – Boise State 28.23

- 2014 Boise State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

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