In order to get a closer look at this week’s Washington State Cougars opponent, the Boise State Broncos, we roped our friends over at One Bronco Nation Under God to answer a few questions for us — specifically, Russ Wood. Enjoy!
CougCenter: On a scale of 1-10, how big is Bryan Harsin's lie when he says, "I thought Brett (Rypien) played well" against Troy?
OBNUG: Ouch. I’d give that one about a 6. Rypien played a sub-par game by his past standards, but I wondered how much of that was due to a relatively unexperienced O-line and how much was due to Rypien forgetting to take the ankle weights off from conditioning? During the game, I was wondering why Montell Cozart was playing entire series out there instead of coming in for a designed play, then I watched him move the chains a few times and began to worry less. I’ll be honest with you, though: It was a weird feeling watching our starter stand on the sidelines. He still has one more year of eligibility, and Cozart—being a grad transfer—will just be with us this season. I guess I just have to trust in Harsin.
… So I suppose that means walking back my initial comment. Now it’s a 1, so there.
How long should the leash be if the offense struggles again under Rypien?
Man, that’s two in a row! It’s not up to me to determine how long Rypien should stay in if the offense struggles, but I don’t think the game against Washington State is the time to let the kinks work themselves out. We will absolutely have to find a way to move the ball when it’s in our possession, and it just occurred to me that I’m writing “our,” as if I have anything to do with it beyond shouting at the TV screen. But, if it were me in charge, I would have no problem playing the quarterback who is most productive, no matter how it might look to the public. The coach’s job is to win.
Now that Jeremy McNichols is gone, who's the new guy on offense who should terrify us?
I would like to say sophomore RB Alexander Mattison (“Matheson,” according to ESPN announcers who can’t read), since he broke off a 49-yard TD run in the last game, but I’m not seeing the creative play-calling that is going to get our running game going yet. I’d like Boise State to prove me wrong on this game. Since I’m not going with Mattison (yet), I’ll go with senior WR Cedrick Wilson. The man has sticky hands and tends to get open for big passes. Last game, he had 4 receptions for 65 yards (avg. 16.3), and he will probably continue to be a favorite target throughout the season.
The defense was impressive! Why and how?
They were ball hawking in the secondary, sometimes to their detriment (see: the play where Reid Harrison-Ducros lets a pick-six slip through his fingers into the receiver’s hands).
But in that same play, you can see how the defense fights for every inch when Desmond Williams hustles to create a touchback. The front seven had nine tackles for loss and four sacks against a Troy offense that returned 98 percent of their starters from last season where they went 10-3. Not too shabby for a young defense.
Prediction time! How much is Boise State going to lose by?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is the scariest game on our schedule. Especially after BYU pooped the bed against LSU and some of the shine of Colorado State has worn off after they lost to (an admittedly pretty good) Colorado. Heisman boy Josh Allen from Wyoming couldn’t score a TD last week. So that leaves Mike Leach’s boys. How do you prepare for a team that can beat you through the air all day, but also has added the new wrinkle of an actual running game?
I’ll tell you how: Cheat.
… Or maybe just keep our offense on the field for longer and always end with points, whatevs.
I have to go with Boise State winning this one, though. (Or else I might lose my job writing for OBNUG.)
Boise State 35, Washington State 28
And here are my answers to Russ’ questions
OBNUG: Should we be concerned about a player nicknamed “Boobie” on your roster, and for what reasons (other than this being a family-friendly blog)?
CougCenter: Let’s put it this way: If you’re going to have a nickname like Boobie, you better be awesome. And Boobie is awesome. It’s a tossup between him and Hercules Mata’afa in a contest of “best athlete on the roster”; Williams is one of the handful guys at WSU (along with Mata’afa) who would absolutely fit right in on any team in the country, including Alabama, USC, etc. He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s strong, he’s got great vision and balance ... and all of that means he’s a threat to get into the end zone every time he touches the ball.
(take your pick of highlights)
Of particular note: He’s really, really good at running WSU’s shovel pass screen:
It’s a play that’s particularly effective when the opponent is playing a lot of man to man, or playing a lot of deep-dropping zone coverage, because the middle of the field gets vacated and the Very Large Men get a nice running start at destroying linebackers and DBs. You can bet Boise State’s defensive coaches are trying to devise a way to limit that play.
I admit it, Mike Leach is growing on me. What have you liked about his tenure at Washington State so far?
Well, I like the fact that we’re not getting our faces kicked in by 60 points any more, and instead are the ones occasionally doing the face kicking. That’s very nice. But beyond that, WSU has a rich tradition of oddball coaches running wide-open offenses with really good quarterbacks, and Leach fits right in with that tradition — perhaps even the most extreme example. I love that we have an offense that is unique and fairly easy to understand for pretty much any fan who wants to do a little studying. It reminds me a little of when Dick and Tony Bennett were our basketball coaches, if completely opposite in style: Having an identity you can wrap your arms around is real nice for fans, and being That Program That Throws The Ball A Billion Times is a lot of fun.
After watching last week’s shutout against Montana State (1-0, baby!), are there any areas of concern you still think need to be shored up before you make the leap to FBS opponents? (I promise to forward this response to our coaches.)
Honestly, I didn’t see anything that was like, “WHOA, that’s gonna be a problem” — that’s a pretty nice change from the last two years! It’s more about things that are unknown. Like ... has the secondary improved? We have no earthly idea, since Montana State barely tried to throw the ball. We do think we know that sophomore safety Jalen Thompson is going to be pretty good; he started all 13 games as a freshman and made some nice plays against the Bobcats, including his first career interception. But the corners weren’t really tested much. We’re also not sure how the defensive line is going to hold up to a legit rushing attack, given its smallish stature. I suppose some of those answers will come on Saturday.
Using Microsoft Paint, draw an expression you might see Mike Leach making during the post-game interview.
I am quite the artist, as you can tell.
On a scale of 90s game consoles (with “Atari Jaguar” being “Not At All” and “Sony Playstation” being “Supremely”), rate your confidence coming into this game.
What’s one step below Playstation — SNES? I’ll go with that. I (like a lot of fans) feel as if the better team didn’t win last year; I believe the Cougars are better than they were last year; and I believe Boise State isn’t as good as they were last year. Additionally, I feel great about this game being played in Pullman rather than Boise.
I’ll even go so far as to say I’m more confident now than I was before the first game. It’s not that the win over MSU did a whole ton to change my perception of the team; it’s more — as we addressed in the third question — that there weren’t any big negative surprises. The last couple of years, the Cougs have gotten a lot better between weeks one and two, and there’s no reason to think they won’t here, also.
I do think the current double-digit line is on the high end of what I would expect, but I’ll say WSU wins by something between a touchdown and 10 points — let’s go with 31-24, Cougs.