By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
The Boise State football team’s run game has yo-yoed this season — from 37 yards to 295 to 116 to 203 to 109 to 215 in the first six games.
That lack of consistency has shown up within games, too. The Broncos rushed for 215 yards last week against Fresno State but twice settled for field goals inside the 2-yard line.
“We’d like to be more consistent than what we are,” offensive line coach Chris Strausser said. “We did some decent things in the run game in crunch time last week against Fresno State, which we knew was going to be a battle. We need to be able to do that at all times. Probably the biggest area of concern in terms of being more consistent is in the red zone and the goal-line stuff.”
Boise State has scored just two touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line this season — a pair of 1-yard runs. The Broncos have kicked three field goals inside the 5 in the past two games and were stopped on fourth down in each of the previous two games.
“Those are always tough yards trying to run the ball — there’s a lot of bodies in there,” Strausser said. “For us, we just want to have the attitude that it doesn’t matter. Like most things in life and in football, it’s a thing here, a thing there. It hasn’t been one thing that has been causing us a problem. Some of the defenses, give them credit, they’ve done a nice job scheming us up in terms of our tendencies. We just need to do a better job executing.
“… We know we’ve got to be better down there and produce down there and put points on the board when we have opportunities.”
Strausser, as has become the norm in recent years, has had to juggle his lineup based on injuries this season. He has reversed the old “can’t lose your job because of an injury” idea.
“I told the group, ‘If you stay healthy and you’re in there, you’re probably going to stay in there unless you really play poorly’ ” Strausser said.
The right side of the line has changed since the season began. Junior Spencer Gerke has replaced senior Michael Ames at right guard and senior Brenel Myers has replaced junior Jake Broyles at right tackle.
Ames has returned from injury but hasn’t gotten back into the lineup. Broyles has missed the past two games after coming off the bench for one play at New Mexico, then hobbling off.
“Mike Ames was in there starting and playing pretty good football and he got hurt,” Strausser said. “The next guy came in and the next guy’s still playing.”
Gerke and junior center Matt Paradis have been the most impressive linemen this season, Strausser said.
“Matt Paradis, I’ve been saying it all along — he really is having a good football season for us,” Strausser said. “The other guy is Spencer. He’s played left guard, center and right guard. He’s too squatty to be a tackle, but he probably would have played that if he wasn’t. I’m really, really pleased with how Spencer has played this season.”
Other notes from Strausser:
— On pass protection: “We’ve done some good things there. We’ve protected the quarterback fairly well. Joe (Southwick) has done a really nice job of getting rid of the ball on time, which obviously all these years Kellen (Moore) has done such a nice job of that. And I think our backs have done a really good job in pass protection. Everyone loves D.J. (Harper) and Doug (Martin) and those guys when they’re running the ball, but those guys are somewhat unsung heroes in terms of the fact that they really need to know a lot.”
— On Myers: “He is playing good football. We’ve known all along he had the talent to play great football. To his credit, I think he was legitimately injured the last two years. He had a good surgery (on a hip) to get that repaired and he’s playing football like we expect him to play football.”
— On UNLV: “They play a lot harder than you’d expect, they really do. For us, it doesn’t look like a team on film that’s only won one game, and you can see it in the scores. They’re right there with every team they’ve played. They’ve got a linebacker (John Lotulelei) I think is the best linebacker we’ve seen all year long. This guy flies around and makes plays. … He didn’t start last year until our game and he showed up big time in our game and he caught our guys by surprise.” Lotulelei made 13 tackles last year against Boise State. He made 19 last week against Nevada.
— On tailbacks D.J. Harper and Jay Ajayi: “It really is a nice 1-2 punch. And it’s probably the first time for a while we can truly say 1-2 punch in the sense I think they’re different backs. D.J.’s got good patience and when he finds a crease, he can hit it and make someone miss. Jay, it doesn’t always have to be blocked perfect. He’s going to break some tackles and he had a couple nice runs that really were not blocked perfect. He just did a nice job staying on his feet. It really is a nice combination with those two guys.”
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr no longer has the Boise State flag in his residence. He was supposed to keep it up until he beat Boise State, but last week was his last chance.
Here's what Carr told CBS47:
"I think actually, I think my dog pulled it down somehow. I don't know. He jumps pretty high, so I think it fell down on accident. ... It's over with. They're a great team. And honestly, one game won't define who I am, and neither does football. So it doesn't bug me one bit."