By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Four weeks after playing one of the earliest games in school history, the Boise State football team faces one of its latest.
The Broncos will battle San Diego State at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Bronco Stadium — a time slot selected by CBS Sports Network.
The Broncos have played at least three home games after 8 p.m. in recent years but none that I could find that started this late. They played Oregon at 8:15 p.m. in 2009, Nevada at 8:08 p.m. in 2009 and Oregon State at 8:07 p.m. in 2004.
“It won’t affect us at all,” quarterback Joe Southwick said. “It’s just a little more time to sit on Saturday and get focused.”
Said cornerback Jamar Taylor: “I love it. The crowd’s going to go crazy.”
Coach Chris Petersen interrupted a question about what he would do with the extra time on Saturday.
“Worry? That’s what I do,” he said.
He said the late start isn’t a concern, even for a team that practices in the mornings.
“Usually it’s different days and bye weeks,” he said of the Broncos’ ever-changing schedule. “Hours, that’s not that big a deal for us.”
The Broncos played at 10 a.m. Mountain on Oct. 6 at Southern Miss.
One of the reasons that Boise State uses the swinging-gate two-point conversion plays is the work it forces opponents to do to prepare for them. San Diego State coach Rocky Long mentioned that in his weekly press conference in San Diego.
“They line up in what we call swinging gate, but they line up in 14 different formations for the extra point,” he said. “And if you don't line up correctly, they run it in there for two points. If you line up correctly, then they all come back in there and they kick the extra point. And out of all the games they've played there's been 13 different formations that they've been in for extra points. … We can line up against every one of those, which we will in practice, and then they'll give us a new one come Saturday.”
Long said the Broncos have taken a similar approach with their punt team.
“I think there's 20 variations on how they line up on punt,” he said. “So obviously you gotta spend a lot of time in practice making sure that you're lined up correctly so they can't run those fakes on the extra point or they can't run it in for two points or they can't fake a punt and get a first down. So you practice against every — you practice against the 20 punt formations they have and you practice against the 12 extra point formations they have and then they'll give you a new one on Saturday.”
Long on the Broncos’ defense:
“They have, I think, nine new starters on defense. Even though they're a lot better on defense this year than they were last year, they have nine new starters or something on defense and you sure can't tell. But they're doing a few things a little bit different than they did last year on defense, too. That's a smart coach.”
His statement that the Broncos are “a lot better on defense” is a bit odd until you think about where Boise State was for the San Diego State game last year. The Broncos had been torched by TCU the week before and gave up a lot of yards to San Diego State while working through the series of injuries in the secondary.
The website coachingsearch.com produced a chart this week ranking college teams by sack differential — a stat that is a pretty good indicator of who’s winning and losing.
Boise State ranks fourth in the nation at plus-16 — 20 sacks and four allowed. Tulsa is No. 1 at plus-31.
I’m trying to identify Boise State’s fan favorite for this season. I’ve taken votes on Twitter and Facebook. Here is the Facebook page (scroll down to find the poll). Or, you can vote by adding a comment to this post — just put the word favorite somewhere in the post so I can find it easily.
Here is the full chart.