By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Short-yardage failures have been one of the key issues for the Boise State offense this season.
On Saturday, the Broncos kicked two field goals inside the Fresno State 2-yard line. They ran the ball 11 times on second- or third-and-4 or shorter and only picked up the first down three times.
For the season, the Broncos are tied for 109th in the nation in red-zone offense. They have 11 touchdowns and eight field goals in 28 drives.
They also are 0-for-7 on fourth down.
“I’d say penetration,” coach Chris Petersen said Monday of why the Broncos have struggled in short-yardage situations. “Any time you get some penetration you make that back hesitate and kind of redirect, which is not what you want to happen. That’s probably the No. 1 thing. So we’ve got to work on that.”
Brian Murphy has some reaction to the black uniforms and audio of Petersen’s press conference here.
Junior wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn made three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown last week. It was the eighth three-catch game of his career, but he has never had more than three.
Boldewijn has missed the first four games each of the past two seasons because of NCAA suspensions.
“He’s going to have to really keep having good days in practice,” Petersen said. “He still is a young player experience-wise. … He’s done a great job on scout team running around, but there’s not a lot of detail when you’re doing the scout team and there’s tremendous detail that can show up on Saturday. He’ll continue to make progress.”
That showed up last week. Boldewijn made a nice play on his touchdown catch, when he wasn’t the primary option.
Later in the game, he failed to adjust a deep route. Quarterback Joe Southwick threw to a spot. It could have been a big play, but instead the ball fell incomplete far from Boldewijn.
“Like we always say, there’s a lot more sophistication going on,” Petersen said. “A lot of times they make it look easy. You see something like that and it looks so awkward. There’s a lot of adjusting going on at all times.”
Petersen is impressed with the improvement of UNLV, which is 1-6 going into Saturday’s game at Bronco Stadium but has lost four games by a combined total of 19 points.
“Every week they’re getting better and they fight and they’re well coached and they play hard and they like football and that jumps out at me loud and clear,” Petersen said. “If anybody is paying attention to their record, you’re paying attention to the wrong thing.”
UNLV has been a different team on the road, though. They have been outscored by 49 points in two road games and by 16 points in five home games. The Rebels squandered a 28-7 lead last week in losing 42-37 to Nevada.
Petersen, on his team’s close games: “We’ve had opportunities, in a couple games, to really get some breathing room or change the course of a game and for whatever reason we haven’t been able to do it. I still credit those guys for how hard they play and they fight. Everybody wants this pretty football. The bottom line is, can we get it done as a group? And they have been.”
Petersen, on the pass game against Fresno State, which ranks 19th in pass-efficiency defense: “Overall, I feel better about our offense after this game. That’s a very good defense we played against. They’re very good on pass-efficiency defense. That’s a hard team to throw the ball on and a hard team to move the ball on and score points.”
Boise State’s players of the week were tailback Jay Ajayi (offense), defensive tackle Mike Atkinson (defense), defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (lineman) and cornerback Josh Borgman (special teams).