The good news is that Boise State manhandled Georgia in its season opener in front of a loud Georgia Dome crowd last night 35-21. Kellen Moore was sensational in leading the Bronco attack.
This was a much different game than '05. I went to that game thinking Boise State would do well and being completely shocked. This year, I expected Boise State to win big and would have been surprised if it was a close game. No lack of respect to the Dawgs at all; they are a talented, well-coached team who didn't give up and kept their swagger throughout. It's just that the Broncos have made such huge strides since that game that they're a completely different team than the one that suffered a giant beatdown in Athens.
We organized a tailgate of over 100 people from all over--San Diego, Houston, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Maine, Tennessee, Frankfurt, Germany and many, many other places including Boise of course. Bronco Nation has come a long way and I don't think fans of other teams understand the fan reach of Boise State.
For those that didn't go, I want you to understand what a great fan base Georgia has. We had great interaction with them in 2005 and again this year. There are the few immature fans that every team has, but 99% of them are the friendliest, most knowledgeable fan base you will ever encounter.
As for the game, I just want to say Kellen Moore is the Man! He is the most unbelievable combination of Joe Montana, John Elway and Larry Bird in his intelligence of his sport, his ability to read defenses, an uncanny ability to know where every player is on the field and to make near-perfect throws every time. To be missing second-round NFL pick Titus Young and third-round NFL choice Austin Pettis and his deep-play threat (Geraldo Boldewijn, who was held out of this game for precautionary measures) from last year and still pick apart a high-quality SEC team is beyond comprehension. Moore finished 28-34, throwing the 100th touchdown pass of his brilliant career (he now has 102) in the first quarter to freshman sensation Matt Miller.
At one time, Moore was 12-15 and at one stretch in the game, Kellen had hit 15-of-his-last-16 passes. His passing was a work of art, a thing of beauty. But first and foremost, the credit has to go to the offensive line. We heard all week all over the media that the Georgia defensive line was bigger and would destroy Kellen Moore. They would sack him all day long and get six interceptions, those not accepting Boise State as a legitimate title contender said. Kellen did make one mistake when he expected man coverage and got zone instead but the offensive line held out that big line that averaged 6-4, 329 pounds. There were no sacks and I only counted two times that Moore hit the turf.
That said, the running game did not fully establish itself. There were some great individual runs by Doug Martin, D.J. Harper and quarterback Grant Hedrick, but that is something the line needs to work on. Yes, I realize it's Georgia but if Boise State wants to truly be one of the elite teams this year, they're going to have to open holes consistently for the running game. The reasons for the lack of a consistent running game are many. First off, Georgia has a big, physical defense. Second, they were keying on Doug Martin all night long. Third, Boise State was absent its top two fullbacks and might have fared better with them in the lineup. Hey, the line was solid last night but Coach Petersen mentioned the need for a stronger running game as well so I did want to include it in my observations.
We have to give a big shout out to offensive coordinator Brent Pease. I had a feeling he would do this well and Pease was superb. Along with his coach-on-the-field Moore, Pease took what Georgia gave and it worked time and time again. Boise State churned up a ton of first downs and Moore utilized nine different receivers during the game. In the third quarter, Bronco head coach Chris Petersen, Pease and the team did something that I believe won the game for them. Georgia had just put in their bigger defenders to stop the run. To begin with, Moore wisely spotted that and checked off to a pass that got them the first down. Then, the Bronco coaches ordered a no-huddle offense. The big Georgia defenders specializing in stopping the run couldn't get off the field and looked confused. They were no match for Boise State's speedy receivers and Moore and the Broncos gobbled up 35 yards or so forcing Georgia to finally call a time out.
But, Boise State had moved the ball to the red zone, turned the magnificent drive into six points for a decisive lead, and thoroughly wore out the Bulldog defense in the process. You can't say enough about the coaching of Pease during that stretch. He has always been an aggressive coach and it was that killer instinct that helped the Broncos finally open up a big lead over a great team and then hold it. That is a first in Bronco history.
Sometimes things work out for the best. Coach Dan Hawkins left and Chris Petersen has been even better. Coach Justin Wilcox left and now Pete Kwiatkowski has the Broncos playing the best defense in their history. Coach Bryan Harsin left and dare I say the Bronco offense is more in attack mode than in recent years.
Most of the Georgia players were very complimentary of Boise State. Brandon Boykin, who made the brilliant run in the first quarter, said in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Boise State could play in the SEC. Some Bulldog fans mistakenly believe that the end result was because Georgia has a bad team rather than the accurate assessment that they played a great game against the #5 team in the nation that is probably underrated. The media will never shut up--they love to spout garbage and will continue to do so. The Broncos can continue to use that to fire them up.
Don't think Coach Chris Petersen and his staff won't have plenty of film for his eager young players to study however. Plenty of blown coverages in the secondary, arm tackling, and lack of consistent holes opened up by the offensive line. For now, we can savor the win. But come Monday, plenty of work to be done.
Boise State just has to remember the Nevada game from last year and how any team can come up and bite them. They have to be serious about every game and take each opponent from here on out as if they were a Georgia.