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WSU vs. Boise State: Q&A with Broncos’ OBNUG

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We’re getting the inside scoop.

One Bronco Nation Under God is not only the longest SB Nation blog name this side of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, it’s also the official SB Nation home of Blue Turf Nation TM, purveyors of excellent analysis and even better MS Paint creations.

OBNUG writer Russ Wood literally gave up minutes of his life to answer a handful of questions for us, and for that, we’re eternally grateful. (Or, grateful until at least tomorrow.)

We've been saying for a while that this is Boise State's Super Bowl. That seem about right to you?

Absolutely. Forget any aspirations of making the playoff and curb-stomping Alabama; this game has been circled on our calendar for years!

In all seriousness, though, we have been looking forward to playing Wazzu for some time, as there are not many teams out there who hold the advantage in win history over us. At 0-4 (advantage, you fellers), we can only just begin to chip away at that record with a win this weekend. On top of that, the preseason hype for Washington State has been really strong this season. Despite last week’s heartbreaking (for you and us, as we rely so much on strength-of-schedule) loss to the mouth-breathing, armpit-sniffing, pumpkin-pie haircutted, fart-mustachioed, bum wranglers at EWU, Washington State still has a chance to shake up the PAC-12 as evidenced by their resiliency last season. Despite any bravado that may appear in our comment boards, this game does frighten us a little.

A sophomore FCS quarterback making his first start torched our defense for about 1,000 yards. What sorts of things will the Broncos try and do offensively to exploit WSU's obviously vulnerable defense?

Probably the same thing that your Air Raid offense will try to do to us—that is, identify soft coverage in the defense and get big chunks of yardage. The exception with Boise State will be the establishment of a run game. We have some pretty good runners in Jeremy McNichols (second-highest scorer in the nation last season), Devin Demas (fastest guy on the team), and surprisingly, new freshman Alexander Mattison (5.5 YPC, 1 TD in debut). The reason the Broncos’ passing attack works so well is because defenses have to account for the run game. Just don’t fall for any read options, because I think Brett Rypien wears ankle weights when he plays.

How well equipped is BSU's defense to deal with the 60ish passes that are about to come its way?

Shewt, that’s a toughie. We lost two of our best coverage men to the NFL last season (Darian Thompson and Donte Deayon; Giants both—“NY” variety, not “Andre the” variety), and our much-hyped 4-star safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner is out getting tutoring. The secondary has stepped up to fill the holes, but any good defense relies on the ability of the secondary to buy time for the front line to pressure the quarterback, and the front line needs to get there quickly enough to cause some disruptions. I’m not sold on how prolific Louisiana-Lafayette’s offense was last week, but we were able to sack the QB 5 times and hold their offense to 267 yards. Given, that was only on 33 passes, and I’m sure we can expect much more this weekend. This game will be a true test for our defense.

The one Boise State player that will cause our fans to pee down their collective leg is ...

I want to say wide receiver Cedric Wilson, who came out of nowhere last game to the tune of 113 yards and a TD, but I will instead take this opportunity to highlight a position and player that doesn’t traditionally get recognized: Offensive lineman Mario Yakoo. This man is the 6’4”, 326 pound Great Wall that knocked Scooby Wright II down a generation. His protection is one of the main reasons the Broncos led the MWC in scoring (39.1 ppg), passing yards (309.9 ypg), and total offense (501.3 ypg) last season. Now, I know O-linemen don’t normally make people pee-pee, but in real life, he looks like Gregor “The Very Big Landmark” Clegane, which is kinda scary to me. Here’s a picture of him sitting on a towel boy:

Air Force v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Also, he’s my favorite player.

What's the one pivotal element on which this game rides?

Turnovers. There were none by either team in our last game, and as we all know, a game can change completely with an untimely turnover. I would bring up how 8 turnovers allowed Utah State to dominate BSU on The Blue™ last season, but I have selectively removed any knowledge of that game from my memory. So instead, I’ll just post a picture of a fuzzy kitten.

Kellie Pickler Unveils The Fresh Step Limited-Edition Cat Sweater Benefiting The ASPCA Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Awwwwww.

Seriously though, you all secretly hate watching football on that blue turf. Admit that it gives you a headache, just like everyone else.

Hey, I have just the thing for you!!!

This might also help whenever you have to deal with that unsightly ocean, blue tennis courts (which somehow seem to elude criticism), and oh yeah… the sky! But hey, if you prefer playing on Oregon Ducks colored turf, be our guest!

Thanks, and good luck (after this weekend)!


And here are my responses to his questions ...

There has been a lot of preseason hype for a Washington State team that has been getting stronger under Mike Leach’s coaching. Did the loss to (a very good) EWU shake your confidence, or was it early enough to attribute it to first-game jitters (and can you redeem your season)?

First off, EWU is not "very good," -- not in the FBS/Power 5/fringe top 25 sense -- so yeah, my confidence is definitely shaken. The season is certainly redeemable, given that the Cougs won nine games last season after losing to Portland State (that’s honestly the only reason our fans aren’t absolutely losing their minds right now), but one has to wonder if it’s wise to expect another outlier rebound from the team. We hope it’s mostly first game jitters -- and I really do believe the team will show great improvement in week two -- but there’s an uneasy feeling that maybe this team just isn’t as good as we thought.

Sorry, that was more like 3 questions. How about this? Which player(s) on your team should Boise State be scared of?

Biletnikoff Award contender Gabe Marks. You’ll typically see him outside on the right playing the Z position in the Air Raid. When he’s on his game -- which is almost always -- he’s practically uncoverable. He’s not a burner (although he’s plenty fast enough), but that’s about the only thing he’s missing. He will absolutely kill DBs off the line with spectacular releases and precise routes, and he makes ridiculous catches look routine. He’s also likely the toughest player on the field; it appeared that he darn near had his leg severed by Washington in the Apple Cup, but he came back four weeks later to lead the team in receiving in the Sun Bowl. Last week, he was playing with a visible limp, perhaps the remnants of a reported injury from early in fall camp. All he did was haul in 10 balls for 108 yards and 2 TDs.

3. I hear there’s a little history behind Brett Rypien and WSU. Feelings on that?

I’m not going to lie and say WDWHA -- we were disappointed when Rypien announced he wasn't choosing WSU. I think a lot of casual fans assumed it was a done deal - Spokane kid, legacy connection to the Cougs, passer's dream of an offense under Leach. However, those who followed recruiting closely knew it wasn't a slam dunk, and as fans are wont to do, I think there was sort of a "well, if he wants to spend the next years of his life in BOISE, that’s HIS loss!!!" vibe to the reaction, even though are fans are always incredibly irritated if we lose out on a highly touted Spokane kid. Plus, it helps that we've got Luke Falk for this year and (probably) next, and his backup, Tyler Hilinski -- a former four-star Rivals recruit whom the Cougs landed after losing out on Rypien -- appears to be developing nicely. Fans probably still wish Rypien had come to WSU, and will lament it even more if he torches us on Saturday, but it's not like people are fixated on it.

Using Microsoft Paint, illustrate a scenario you see playing out in this weekend’s game.

I clearly don’t have the MS Paint skills you all do (seriously, that’s amazing), so here’s the best I can do with one scenario I could see happening:

On a scale of 80s sitcoms, with Perfect Strangers being "supremely," and Full House being "not-at-all," rate your confidence in winning this game.

What’s one step down from Full House? Family Matters? (Hey, I didn’t say the above MS Paint scenario was *likely*.) Let’s go with Family Matters, since our defense is likely to spend a significant amount of time stumbling around like Steve Urkel, unable to get out of its own way long enough to succeed for very long. WSU was resilient after its loss to Portland State last season, and since this is largely the same group of guys, I just have to hope that they’ll respond in a similar fashion to a similarly disappointing season-opening loss. Actually, let me amend that -- I hope they respond a lot better than they did against Rutgers last year, because if they play that sloppy for large portions of the game, BSU will run them off the field. That said, I believe they recognize the opportunity they have here to win a game over a good team, and Mike Leach’s teams at WSU have tended to play better on the road than at home. (Really.) I think the game probably is reasonably close, but the Broncos win by something like 4 to 7 points.