Kellen Moore demonstrated again that he's deadly as a quarterback, and it doesn't matter what the circumstances are, in directing the third ranked Boise St. Broncos past the Oregon St. Beavers 37-24 Saturday night. Moore completed 19 of 27 passes, for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns, and notably, no interceptions. It was the 29th. win in 30 career starts for the junior Bronco quarterback. But the numbers don't tell the whole story.
Making the right play time after time does. It was things like making not only the perfect long pass, usually to Titus Young, who caught five of Moore's passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, but also shortening up a pass that had "pick 6" written all over it for a short, but still positive, gain. Or knowing when to push the pace, and when to slow it down. Even knowing when to put the ball in someone else's hands.
Jacquizz Rodgers (1, above) had only 46 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries for Oregon St., and only two receptions, while Doug Martin (22, below) had 138 yards on his 19 carries, plus 4 more catches for 35 additional yards.
One cause of the difference was the Broncos' ability on both sides of the line of scrimmage to manage the gaps. This despite the absence of any 300 pounders on defense, and the presence of only one on offense. Yet the Broncos were able to collapse gaps against the Oregon St. line, leaving 'Quizz little room. And the Boise St. offensive line was able to create lanes on a regular basis, and when the Beavers successfully bottled up the run, as far as forcing it into the middle, the Broncos were able to drive block for positive yardage.
Oregon St.'s single biggest challenge going forward may be developing the technique of influencing gaps spacing tackle to tackle, and going both ways. Even bigger than the issue of adjusting their coverage schemes.
Not that coverage isn't an issue; it is. Once again, Oregon St.'s corners couldn't survive in one on one coverage. Despite the fact that Moore wasn't a threat to run, and the Boise St. wideouts Young and Austin Pettis are textbook cases for bracket coverage, the Beaver secondary struggled all night to get into matchups they could win.
It wasn't as though Oregon St. was all bad in Boise though, far from it. James Rodgers' first ever punt return for a touchdown (below, termed "Magical" by ABC's Brent Musberger) still led to a 100 yard total offense day, despite missing the last third of the game, after suffering a possible concussion.
And even without James, Oregon St. got good return yardage from Jordan Poyer, who had 125 yards, and the Beavers put together a scoring drive. Marcus Wheaton (2, below) wasn't able to generate the cuts that got him upfield in relief of James Rodgers in the fly, however, and that will have to improve, both this year as an additional threat, and next year, when James is no longer available.
The Beavers played well enough to beat a lot of teams, but not top ten teams, be it due to a shanked Johnny Hekkar punt that led via a short field directly to a touchdown, or a couple of Ryan Katz mis-throws, over gunning the ball to open receivers on short, out routes. As a result, the Broncos extended their home winning streak to 57 games.
Katz (12, above) still hasn't thrown an interception, but again completed less than half his passes, connecting on only 12 of 26 attempts. (At least the Beavers found creative ways to get Hback Joe Halahuni involved, but when Halahuni is Oregon St.'s leading receiver [3 catches for 56 yards, plus his fumble recovery], things are probably not going as planned.)
It would have been interesting to see what the Beavers could have done with James Rodgers available down the stretch, but then again James wouldn't have been a factor in a coverage mistake, where a receiver was released over the middle in the end zone to the other safety, except he wasn't there to pick up the coverage.
The bottom line is Oregon St. made several errors, and employed a questionable choice of coverage scheme, and they did it against a team, and a field general, too good to make any mistakes against. Which negated a good level of effort. Oregon St. coach Mike Riley summed it up similarly.
We hung in there, and somehow we got it to within one score in the second half. Our guys never quit. When it’s at one score anything can happen. I’m proud of that, I think that was good. But we certainly have to execute better if we’re going to win.
At least Katz had a front row view of how it will look when he gets the rest of what he has made pretty good progress on so far right.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)