BOISE, Idaho >> After going without a touchdown in a disappointing opening loss at Washington, Boise State’s offense appears to have hit midseason form, and just in time for its Mountain West Conference showdown with Fresno State.
In the last two weeks, the Broncos balanced an efficient passing game with a bruising rushing attack to put up 105 points in victories over Tennessee-Martin and Air Force. That production has helped coaches and players distance themselves from the frustration and failure of the 38-6 drubbing by the Huskies, the worst defeat in the eight-year tenure of coach Chris Petersen.
“I think we’ve got a little rhythm going right now,” said receiver Matt Miller, who led the team with 10 catches for 112 yards in Friday’s 42-20 romp over Air Force. “But our goal is to improve every week.”
The Broncos (2-1, 1-0 Mountain West Conference) may need all the points then can get Friday night against Fresno State and its high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Derek Carr.
The Bulldogs’ game at Colorado Saturday was postponed because of flooding in the state. The game could be made up at the end of the season, but for now Fresno State, on the verge of making it into the AP Top 25 rankings, is focused on figuring out how to snap a seven-game losing streak against Boise State.
Carr, voted the preseason conference offensive player of the year, is living up to those expectations through the first two games, victories over Rutgers and Cal-Poly. He leads the conference in several categories, averaging 330.5 yards passing per game and completing 71.2 percent of his throws.
The Bulldogs offense, meanwhile, is averaging 46.5 points per game and ranks third in the conference in total offense, averaging 453 yards per games. Fresno State receivers Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper are three of the league’s top receivers.
Petersen said Monday that he’s pleased with the progress on offense since the first game, and he praised the decision-making and poise of quarterback Joe Southwick, who set a school and conference record by completing 27 of 29 passes against Air Force.
But Petersen also knows his offense will likely have to make the most of every possession to help a young Bronco defense that seemed lost and flustered against a Huskies attack that is all-too-similar to the one they’ll face in Fresno.
“They’ve got a lot of space out there with a bunch of playmakers, one-on-one battles and a guy who can get them the ball in a hurry and can throw very accurately,” Petersen said of the Bulldogs offense. “That’s a highly effective offense … and we’ll have to have improved from Game 1 and a similar style.”
The nationally televised matchup also pits two teams projected to win their respective divisions in the first year the MWC has separate divisions and a conference championship game. The Broncos were the preseason favorite to win the Mountain Division and are tied atop the division with Utah State. Fresno State holds a one-game lead in the West Division over San Jose State.