By Brian Murphy
Boise State first-year offensive coordinator Robert Prince took some of the blame for the Broncos' poor offensive performance against Michigan State. The Broncos failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1997 in a 17-13 loss to the Spartans.
"We watched the tape and there's areas that (quarterback Joe Southwick) can improve. But also the whole offense, including myself. There's things I can do better. Get the plays in faster," Prince said. "It wasn't just about Joe. It's about everybody."
Southwick was 15-of-31 for 169 yards and an interception in the loss. In the fourth quarter, Southwick slid two yards shy of a first down on a third-and-10 scramble. The Broncos failed to convert on fourth down and did not get the ball back.
"That’s my fault for not stressing that. We’ve really been on him about sliding and not taking hits. That’s what I coached and that’s what he did. That’s on me," Prince said. "That’s something that we talked about. In those situations, hey, you got to get the first down. And he understands that. That’s what we coached and that’s what he did."
Prince coached wide receivers at Boise State from 2001 to 2003 and returned in 2011 after stints in the NFL and at Colorado. He was elevated to offensive coordinator this offseason when Brent Pease left for Florida. It is the first time he has been an offensive coordinator.
Prince also said it is important for him to get the play calls to the offense quicker.
"I’ve got to get the play call faster that way our guys will have more time at the line of scrimmage and be able to make their checks and just give ourselves a little bit more of an advantage," he said.
The biggest problem for the Boise State offense was the running game. The Broncos rushed for 37 yards on 24 carries. Starter D.J. Harper had eight yards on 15 carries.
"It wasn’t just one thing, a breakdown here or there. I got to put our guys in a better situation. We have some tough sledding to go and we needed to be a little more creative and we learned from that," Prince said. "It wasn’t just the offensive line. I put it on myself for not putting our guys in great situations. I put them in an uphill battle with going against that defense. I’ve got to be better and more creative."
Prince said that the Broncos cannot use the loss of starters like Kellen Moore, Doug Martin and Tyler Shoemaker as an excuse for the poor offensive output. Boise State had 206 yards of total offense, the fewest since Chris Petersen joined the staff in 2001.
"The thing that we stress is it’s not about the name on the back of the jersey, it’s about the name on the front. And it’s got to be the next man up. We can’t use that as an excuse that we lost those guys. These are the players we have and guys have to play. And I’ve got to coach better and the offense has got to perform," Prince said. "With those veteran guys that left they obviously had a lot of game experience and had gone through different scenarios which our other guys haven’t. You can’t use that as an excuse."
Prince said there are some things that he'd like to do better, but would not get specific. He also said there are some players he'd like to get more opportunities, but did not name individuals.
"I feel like I’m a competitor. Whether we win or lose, we’re going to try and win the next game. It does give you a little salty taste," Prince said. "I don’t know if that makes me want to win more."