Week 3 Boise State Helmet Stickers
Who stood out for the Broncos
Who deserves some recognition this week and who had an off week against the Vikings?
The casual Boise State fan does not get excited when they hear an FCS opponent is coming to Bronco Stadium. More involved (obsessed) Bronco fans knew the Broncos were getting a tough opponent despite their classification.
The Vikings took Arkansas to the wire in a 20-13 loss and bulldozed Simon Fraser (a Division II team from north of the border). Some folks were wondering if we would see a repeat of the Marshall game on Saturday and it certainly looked that way early. Fortunately Boise State found their groove and scored 31 unanswered points in route to a 45-10 win.
Curtis Weaver– Mr. Weaver earned his second straight helmet sticker with his performance against Portland State on Saturday. Curtis had six tackles, four sacks, and even a pass defensed. Weaver even tied a Boise State single game sack record with his efforts. He now has six sacks on the season and 27.5 in his epic threw year career.
Jerry Hughes holds the Mountain West single season sack record at 15. Hughes averaged 1.15 sacks per game to grab the record. Weaver is currently averaging two sacks per game thus far in 2019 and it is reasonable to think that he could maintain that pace throughout the rest of the season.
A record that Curtis is even more likely to break is the Mountain West career sack record of 29 sacks, also set by Jerry Hughes. With another monster game against Air Force, Mr. Weaver could rewrite the record books once again.
John Hightower– Hightower burst on the scene in 2018 as a dynamic playmaker with elite speed. That talent was back on display Saturday when he immediately answered Portland State’s opening drive field goal with a 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Hightower collected the kickoff on the 2 yard line, following his blockers initially, before reversing field and outrunning the Viking defenders to the endzone.
Not to be out down on offense, he was also the leading receiver with 4 receptions for 79 yards and another score, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. Hightower looks to have another outstanding game against Air Force this Friday, after catching 8 balls for 182 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2018 against the Falcons.
The Running Back Committee– Not a single Bronco running back rushed for 100 yards on Saturday, but they also did not have to. Robert Mahone, George Holani, and Andrew Van Buren combined for 111 yards on just 14 carries. That math works out to nearly 8 yards per carry.
While the unit only had a long of 28 yards, they were incredibly efficient. This group has also showed that they can carry a heavier load when called upon, Boise State coaches simply appeared to want to work different players and angles against Portland State. Despite what one of this site’s fearless leaders said on the Week 3 Recap Podcast, (cough cough Jeremy Mauss) the Broncos should be just fine in the running department.
Back to the Film Room
Boise State’s Offensive Line + Hank Bachmeier– First off, I need to put out the disclaimer that I am NOT calling for a change at quarterback nor a quarterback controversy. I fully believe Hank should be the starter. For those fans on firmly on the Hank Train rolling their eyes at this, I know I know, Bachmeier was 16 of 25 for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns, good enough for 9.5 yards per attempt and a 64% completion percentage.
Those are fantastic numbers for most quarterbacks, much less a true freshman, but the freshman also had a freshman-like mistake with his one interception and honestly probably should’ve had another one on his touchdown pass to CT Thomas.
Bachmeier’s biggest issue is how he deals with pressure and or contact. Part of this is on the offensive line and part of this is a true freshman learning how to navigate the pocket. Bachmeier was sacked three times and pressured and hit seemingly every time he threw the ball. Some of Hank’s pocket movements or instances where he holds on to the football too long, tend to lead to these nasty hits. The other part of the equation is the offensive line does not appear to be communicating well when the defense brings pressure, especially delayed blitzes.
Bachmeier needs to recognize the length and brutality associated with playing an entire FBS season at a position as vulnerable as quarterback. When he is in the pocket, he needs to learn to utilize his check down routes or throw the ball away, coaches and fans understand he’s talented, so sometimes a completion is not worth the punishment Hank takes in a hit as a result.
Bachmeier also needs to do his best to avoid contact when running the ball. Sliding is not only allowed, but it is smart. Learn to avoid the hits and live to see another week.
Now the poor Bronco offensive line, who fans had such high hopes for entering the 2019 season, is looking eerily similar to those 2017 and 2018 lines, especially early in the season. I had to point out that the Broncos are sadly without their starting Right and Left Tackles.
John Ojukwu and Ezra Cleveland could both be seen cheering on their team from the sidelines, Ojukwu in a heavy knee brace and Cleveland in an ankle boot. No word on their injuries, but the Broncos are definitely missing their bookends and would love to get at least one back for the Air Force game on Friday.
Boise State’s Defense– The title sounds like more of a sweeping statement that it is. I am mostly being a nitpicky fan, and needed someone to keep the Offensive Line and Hank Bachmeier company in the film room. Portland State may have only earned 244 total yards, but both of their scoring drives were aided by big plays, a 52 yard run and a 52 yard touchdown pass. Big plays are exactly what Boise State’s Achilles heel has been when playing Air Force. The real damage of the triple option has been done when it lulls the Bronco defense to sleep, allowing the Falcons to burn Boise State through the air.
Friday will be an excellent test for new Bronco Defensive Coordinator Jeff Schmedding, to see if he can preach the discipline needed to prevent those plays moving forward.
That’s it for this week, check back to see which players or position groups continue to impress and which need to go back to the film room!