By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease said the problems in the passing game last week against Nevada were “easily correctable.”
“We were just off a little bit,” he said. “We just left too many plays on the field and weren’t totally on with some of our throws. We definitely had potential for three more touchdowns that result in some yards.”
Quarterback Kellen Moore was 19-of-33 for a career-low 142 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
He had a receiver wide open for a touchdown on the play where he was hit while throwing and intercepted, missed wide-open tight end Gabe Linehan for a likely score and had a potential 51-yard TD pass to Mitch Burroughs dropped. The Broncos also lost a 92-yard TD run by Doug Martin to a holding penalty that coach Chris Petersen said on his radio show shouldn’t have been called.
The Broncos likely will need a cleaner performance Friday night at Fresno State, which has a quick-strike offense.
“You just go back and look at it and kind of correct and review, work the fundamentals of things,” Pease said. “Guys have enough pride and know that’s not what it’s about, so we’ll work to get better.”
The Broncos have shown the ability to control the ball with the run game or the pass game — and mixed in some explosive plays — but have yet to play a complete offensive game. They are 28th in the nation in scoring (36.5 points per game) and 32nd in yards (446.8 per game).
“That’s what we work for,” Pease said of a complete outing. “The thing about it is the guys have done a good job. … We just always try to keep ourselves in good third-down situations and create explosives. I think the guys are doing a good job of executing.”
One element missing from the offense this season is the deep ball that Titus Young made look so routine. The receivers don’t have a 40-yard catch yet.
“Everyone gets so caught up with the guy going over the top,” Pease said. “That’s there. It’s a matter of learning and timing and adjusting. We had so many explosives with Titus over the top, but we don’t have that kid anymore.”
And one element that surprisingly has been part of the offense is the interception. Moore has four — a stunning number considering he had three in 2009 and six in 2010.
Backup Joe Southwick has lost a fumble and was saved by penalty from a pick six last week. No non-quarterback has committed a turnover this season.
“We’ve got to do a better job taking care of the football,” Pease said. “We’ve got too many turnovers throwing the ball.”
Pease is excited about the return of sophomore wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn, who served a four-game NCAA suspension for receiving impermissible benefits.
“He’s been great,” Pease said. “Unbelievable. Totally like you’d want, which speaks of his character and attitude.”
Pease expects Boldewijn to fit right into the offense. He should help with the deep ball because of his speed, 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
“I’m just excited to see him get out there and play and do his deal and see what he can bring to us,” Pease said.
Junior linebacker Tommy Smith’s defensive teammates might have been happier than he was when he made an 11-yard catch — the first of his career — against Nevada.
“I caught the ball, I got tackled and as soon as I got up everybody was there like I scored,” Smith said.
Said Moore: “He ran a great route. He looked like he was a fullback and burst right upfield.”
Smith, who plays nearly half the snaps at middle linebacker, has doubled as a fullback because of the injury to starter Dan Paul, who hasn’t played this season.
“As a defense, we’re lobbying for them to throw him a deep ball here and there,” senior linebacker Byron Hout said. “Get him a touchdown.”
Smith, who played a little fullback last year, said he likes the role.
“I’m basically a hard-nosed player and that’s the type of player you need at fullback,” he said.
Paul also is a former linebacker. Linebackers coach Bob Gregory said it’s a natural transition because of the mentalities and body types involved.
“They probably want all of ‘em,” he said of his players, “but they can’t have all of ‘em.”
Last week, tailback Doug Martin rushed for more than 120 yards against Nevada for the third straight year.
This week, tailback D.J. Harper will try to complete a Bulldog Stadium trifecta. Harper’s only two 100-yard performances were in 2007 as a true freshman (153 yards, TD) and 2009 (107, TD) as a junior in Fresno.
Boise State is the only team from outside the six BCS conferences in the Top 25. The No. 5 Broncos look like locks to qualify for a BCS game if they go undefeated and are in position to get there with a loss as long as they win at least a share of the Mountain West title. Boise State needs to win the conference and finish in the top 12, or in the top 16 and ahead of a BCS-conference champion, to earn an automatic bid.
No non-BCS team has qualified for a BCS bowl with a loss but that situation is untested. Since the current rules were put in place in 2006, there has always been an undefeated team available.
Houston (5-0) is the only undefeated non-BCS team left other than Boise State.
The Broncos finished 10th in the BCS with a loss last year.
Petersen called the Broncos’ string of personal fouls late in the Nevada game “dumb, dumb play.”
“That’s not something that we don’t talk about and work on from day one around here,” he said. “It’s such an emotional game and you’re kind of living on that aggressive edge, yet you have to be poised.”
The Broncos are averaging 27.1 yards per kickoff return this season — a 3.6-yard improvement over last year. They rank ninth in the nation.
Special teams coach Jeff Choate says he took a different approach to the unit this year. Each player has been taught a limited number of blocks, but those blocks can be employed anywhere on the field.
“What I’ve really tried to do is latch onto the idea of compartmentalizing what the tasks are,” he said. “We can run any return we want but these are the three basic blocks that these guys execute. … That’s helped us to really kind of hone in on the techniques.”
Senior right guard Chuck Hayes was the Broncos’ lineman of the week for the Nevada game. He made his first start, replacing sophomore Jake Broyles. Broyles is out for the year with a toe injury.
“Chuck did a great job,” Petersen said. “That’s the best I’ve seen Chuck play. Very, very clean, solid job.”
Defensive backs coach Marcel Yates, on injured cornerback Jerrell Gavins: “He was crushed at first. He understands, it’s football, you’re going to have injuries. But he’s a guy that’s never been hurt before, so he was crushed. He was playing so well.”
Fresno State defensive tackle Logan Harrell remembers a play last year when he had Moore wrapped up and the quarterback flipped the ball to a receiver.
“He was so aware. It should have been a sack,” he said. “He tossed it forward and they got a couple yards out of it. It’s just amazing watching them play and how well they do it.
“… (Moore) is probably one of the smartest players I’ve seen as far as reading defenses — in every type of situation.”
Redshirt freshman Dan Goodale remains the starting field-goal kicker. He made his first attempt last week and was perfect on PATs for the first time since the opener.
“Dan, the last two weeks, has been consistent and has been better than (Michael Frisina and Jake Van Ginkel),” Choate said, “so we’re going to continue to roll with him. He’s just got to find his stride, which he is. He’s hitting the ball really well right now.”
Brian Murphy and I will hold a live chat at 11 a.m. MDT Friday to talk about the Broncos and college football. Sign up for a reminder in the Murph’s Turf blog.