After ‘trying to be aggressive’ and struggling, Boise State offense eager to bounce back

Two weekends from now, the annual Zamzows dog frisbee fest will take place at Ann Morrison Park in Boise.

At Albertsons Stadium on Saturday, Boise State wide receivers coach Matt Miller is hoping to see a similar show from his pass catchers.

“We always say between those white lines, you’ve gotta go out there and be a frisbee-catching dog,” Miller said. “When the ball’s in the air, it’s your ball. There’s videos I show guys of dogs going up there and catching a frisbee. I mean, it is the most important thing in their life is that frisbee. ... It’s the same mentality as a receiver.”

The Boise State offense as a whole is looking to rebound after a season-opening loss at No. 8 Washington last week. The Broncos will attempt to do so against UCF of the Big 12 at 5 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium. The game will be televised on FS1.

The Broncos have had plenty of time for self-reflection, and coach Andy Avalos said the team is harping on efficiency this week.

“There’s definitely things that we can build off of that we did well,” Avalos said. “There’s things that we did well in the pass game. There’s things we can clean up. The variety of things that we have in the run game, and being able to get to some of those things, is going to be a critical component of this game.

“The overall efficiency is what we want to see. That’s really what we’re focused on. It’s not like things are going to drastically change, but ... where we make the biggest jump is within that efficiency.”

The Broncos’ most consistent offensive weapon against the Huskies was sophomore running back Ashton Jeanty, who recorded a game-high 153 all-purpose yards. That included 44 yards and a score on the ground to complement his career-high 109 receiving yards. He also had the first TD reception of his career when he took a swing pass from Taylen Green, eluded defenders and went 50 yards down the sideline.

“We have great confidence in ourselves and our ability to go out and get the job done on Saturday,” Jeanty said. “We know what it looks like. We’ve had a great week of practice, just building on what we did last week and just getting better from our mistakes.”

Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan called the Broncos’ performance against UW “inconsistent,” called out his own performance and admitted the team might have needed to run the ball more. Boise State totaled 138 yards on 28 carries — an average of 4.9 yards per touch — and 264 through the air. Green was just 19-of-39 passing and had two interceptions.

Hamdan said film study might have influenced his play-calling more than it should have, citing UW’s win last season over Texas in the Alamo Bowl — a game in which the Huskies limited the Longhorns to just 51 yards rushing.

“So I think sometimes maybe that can be in your mind a little bit too much, but certainly looking back at it, we needed to (run) more to put our defense in a better situation and give us a better chance,” Hamdan said.

Losing redshirt senior running back George Holani for a portion of the game to a lower-leg injury and about a half-dozen drops by receivers didn’t help the Broncos. And there’s no telling what might have happened had Green chose to run it more himself on the 10 read-option plays Hamdan called from the booth.

“Watching the film, I felt like I could have ran a little bit more, just used my legs,” Green said. “Going back to the RGIII interview, being a triple threat: using my arm, using my legs and using my mind, and just trying to win the presnap to make it easier on me in the milliseconds that I’m making a decision, just simplifying the play and simplifying my read.”

Boise State scored on its second drive of the game against UW and led 9-7 early in the second quarter. But the Broncos’ offense seemed to lose its rhythm when its next drive was three incomplete passes and a punt, followed quickly by another drive that didn’t produce a first down.

By the time the offense got the ball back again, the score was 21-9.

The team knows it can’t afford to have the same dropoff against UCF.

“Looking back at it, I feel like we were trying to be aggressive,” Hamdan said. “Called the game aggressive and I hurt us, I think, with taking some shots early in those drives and not building some momentum. ... One thing I know about this offense, one thing I know about this program, is there’ll be a lot of ownership taken, and it starts with me.

“We talk about rhythm all the time, and we gotta make sure we play with great rhythm.”


When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,363, FieldTurf), Boise

TV: FS1 (Eric Collins, Devin Gardner)

Radio: KBOI 670 AM/93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

Records: Boise State 0-1; UCF 1-0

Series: UCF won the only meeting between these two teams 36-31 in 2021 in Orlando, Florida

Vegas line: UCF by 3.5

Weather: High of 89 degrees, 0% chance of rain, 6 mph winds