By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Boise State football coach Chris Petersen on Monday explained the wild ending to the first half of Saturday’s game at Utah State.
“A series of unfortunate events,” Petersen said. “… It’s on me.”
Here’s what happened:
— The Broncos got the ball on their own 13-yard line with 51 seconds remaining in the half. Quarterback Joe Southwick took a knee at the 11. The Broncos could have run the clock down to single digits by using the 40-second play clock, but when the game clock dropped below 40 seconds the referee told Southwick to snap it, Petersen said. Southwick took a knee at the 9 — and both teams began heading to the locker rooms.
— Utah State coach Matt Wells, who had two timeouts remaining, used one with 23 seconds left. “It’s smart football by them,” Petersen said. “I would have done the exact same thing. We’ve got to play to get out of the hole and play till the final seconds are off the clock.”
— With staff trying to get some players out of the locker room and the coordinators walking down the grandstands to the field, tailback Jay Ajayi rushed for 7 yards on third-and-14. Utah State called timeout with 18 seconds left to force a punt.
— The Broncos did not use their usual punt formation for this type of situation, with the opponent going all out for a block. Plus, they had a personnel issue — redshirt freshman defensive end Sam McCaskill ran onto the field late to replace another player and lined up at guard. “We shouldn’t have punted out of the formation we were in,” Petersen said.
— Utah State blocked the punt, which went out of bounds at the Boise State 12-yard line with 12 seconds left in the half.
— On first and second down, quarterback Craig Harrison threw jump balls to the far corner of the end zone. Junior cornerback Bryan Douglas, who is 5-foot-9 and gave up 7 inches to one of the receivers, broke up both passes. “Those are the type of plays you have to make, especially if they’re going to throw at you twice in a row,” linebacker Corey Bell said. “We were all excited. That was a playmaker making a big couple plays there.”
— Utah State sent kicker Nick Diaz out for a 29-yard field goal. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. pushed up the middle and blocked the kick to finally end the half. The Broncos led 24-10.
“It was quite a momentum swing and really some good competing on both sides, to tell you the truth,” Petersen said. “I was really proud of our guys. They didn’t (say), ‘Uh-oh, now what?’ They were irritated. It started from Bryan Douglas, to go knock those fade balls down. He was all about it. And then Charles Leno and Demarcus (Lawrence) and Ricky (Tjong-A-Tjoe) and all those guys that pushed inside (on the field goal). It was great football. It was really good competing. I think both sides were extremely fired up on it. It was a good exchange except I felt bad because I was at the center of it to blame. We shouldn’t have been there.”
Other highlights from Petersen:
— On last week’s game: “We made some really fine plays on all sides of the ball. But there were some that you’d really like to not make at this point in the season — some really critical type negative plays. That’s why we practice. Most of the stuff kind of comes back to fundamental football in terms of staying on our feet, staying on blocks.”
— On the wide receivers: “I do still think our wide receivers need to play more consistent. They have grown and they’re getting better but there are easy plays that we don’t make out there that we need to, across the board. They make a spectacular play that’s like, ‘Wow,’ and then drop a ball they have no business dropping.”
— On the defensive line: “They played really well. We need that. It starts in the lines. We’re proud of those guys for progressing. I think our defense in general is getting better.”
— On true freshman wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck’s interception on a trick play: “He looked a lot better in high school (as a quarterback) than he did the other night. It was open and he just kind of short-armed it. That’s why we have him at receiver, I guess.”
On this week’s depth chart, redshirt freshman Steven Baggett is listed as the starting right tackle. Starter Rees Odhiambo, who missed last week’s game but did travel, is week to week, Petersen said. Odhiambo is not listed on the depth chart.
Shane Williams-Rhodes is listed as the co-starter at slot receiver. Regular starter Kirby Moore also traveled last week and did not play. He is week to week, too. Williams-Rhodes has 22 catches in the past two games with Moore out — the most by a Bronco in a two-game span since Tim Gilligan in 2003.
Linebacker Jonathan Brown, who was injured against Washington and was expected to miss at least six weeks, will be out a while longer, Petersen said. He does expect Brown to return.
Here is the depth chart.
Bell on the Utah State game: “Our D-line played great that whole game. They made it easy on a lot of guys. Our D-line was really getting off blocks, obviously they were getting pressure on the quarterback. … We were just really excited going into that game.”
WR Geraldo Boldewijn on Shane Williams-Rhodes: “I feel like a lot of people tend to underestimate him because of his size. Just his speed, his agility, it’s so dangerous. It shocks some people. It’s always fun to see that.”