Boise State football O-line coach explains new run game; video preview of Air Force game


Chris Petersen and Joe Southwick preview tonight’s game.

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

STRAUSSER EXPLAINS CHANGE TO PISTOL-BASED RUN GAME

Boise State offensive line coach Chris Strausser serves as the run game coordinator. He has been with the program since 2001 except for 2006, when he spent one year with Dan Hawkins at Colorado.

He said the Broncos’ switch to a run game based mostly out of the pistol is part of a years-long pursuit of a way to run out of the shotgun, which became the standard formation with Kellen Moore at quarterback.

“It really wasn’t our expertise, running the ball out of the shotgun in the past, so it’s been a little bit of an evolution for us,” he said. “Just putting that (running) back in a position more consistently during the game where he can truly go downhill, which is what we used to do when our quarterback was underneath (center), has made a big difference for us.”

The Broncos are averaging 4.3 yards per carry, down from 4.6 last year. But they’ve done it against a stout Washington defense and a UT Martin defense that played as many as nine guys in the box to force the Broncos to the air.

“We’re still kind of working on putting the whole puzzle together,” Strausser said. “We’ve been able to, throughout the whole game, not have our back going sideline to sideline trying to find holes. But there’s still some pieces missing that we’re working on putting together.”

The primary piece: the quarterback run, which has been the subject of many fan complaints with this offense.

Senior quarterback Joe Southwick has run the zone read the first two weeks but has handed to the tailback most of the time. Backup quarterback Grant Hedrick broke a 50-yard touchdown run on one of those plays last week.

“Joe did a nice job on a couple carries he had,” Strausser said. “He’s really, really progressed for us in terms of being a good runner in scrambling situations and so now for us to find the right times to get him to carry the ball in the game is probably that next step.”

Southwick has been making the right reads on the play, Strausser said. And he isn’t concerned that Southwick lacks breakaway speed. Strausser remembers running similar plays with quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie in the early 2000s. Dinwiddie wasn’t much of a runner, but he had some lengthy gains.

“To me, the quarterback doesn’t have to carry it 90 yards to be considered a really good runner,” Strausser said. “It’s frustrating for the defense when that guy gets 6 yards a carry.”

A few other notes from Strausser:

— On the offensive line, which has received strong reviews the first two weeks: “What has shown up on film is those guys are playing hard, running backs included — they’re running very hard. College football is a fine line between good and bad. There’s still some stuff we’ve got to get better at. But if those guys keep playing hard, I think it’s going to be a lot closer to good than bad.”

— On the three redshirt freshman backups — Travis Averill (center), Mario Yakoo (guard) and Steven Baggett (tackle): “Those guys are all really progressing nicely.”

— On the Air Force defense: “It’s kind of what you expect from an Air Force team. They’re very unconventional on defense just like they are on offense. They move more than any team we see on a regular basis. They’re extremely disciplined. … They’re always in the gap they’re supposed to be in.”

MILLER: ‘A BUNCH OF RESILIENT GUYS’

Boise State junior wide receiver Matt Miller was proud of the way the Broncos bounced back from scoring six points at Washington. They scored 63 in the home opener against UT Martin.

“It shows a lot of character that we have in that locker room,” Miller said. “A bunch of resilient guys. We set forth to improve every day. It was a tough loss at Washington, but we had a good week of practice last week and it showed on Saturday.”

The key this week?

“Keep going,” he said. “Have that mindset of improving every day. If you keep doing that and keep working hard, you’re going to be happy on game day.”

Coach Chris Petersen mildly called out the wide receivers after the Washington game, when Southwick averaged 3.8 yards per attempt. That number jumped to 9.4 yards against UT Martin.

“We worked a lot on beating man coverage,” Miller said. “Washington, they really did a good job on us. We had a good week of practice and Tennessee-Martin tried to do a little bit of the same stuff and we made a lot of plays.”

Petersen, and the @BroncoSports Twitter account, have asked fans to cheer for the Air Force players when they enter the stadium tonight.

Miller expressed appreciation for what the Falcons do.

“They play hard,” he said. “There’s a reason they serve our country — and that’s what I like to see. … We definitely respect them and what they do. You’ve got to tip your hat to them.”

LAUGHREA SETTLES IN AT DAVIS

The Sacramento Bee has a feature on new UC Davis quarterback Jimmy Laughrea, who transferred from Boise State this summer. Laughrea says homesickness and a lack of playing time were challenges for him in Boise. He credits coach Chris Petersen with helping him land at Davis.

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OUR COVERAGE

Monday blog: Highlights from coach Chris Petersen’s press conference
Tuesday story: The ‘stache is back — and fans embrace it
Tuesday blog: The Mountain West Football Report
Tuesday blog: Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski staying in the press box
Wednesday story: Air Force offense has many options
Wednesday blog: Defensive tackles making an impact
Wednesday blog: Brian Murphy’s Name the Score contest
Thursday story: The importance of the Hammer to the Broncos
Thursday blog: Live chat replay/Shane Williams-Rhodes prepares for opponent adjustments
Friday story: How Boise State’s Mountain West deal is panning out
Friday Murphy column: The changing role of linebackers
Friday story: Game breakdown
Friday story: Divisional play begins

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FALCONS COVERAGE

The Gazette coverage is here.

Follow beat writer Brent Briggeman at @BrentBriggeman.

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GAME NOTES

Boise State game notes
Boise State depth chart
Boise State stats
Air Force release
Air Force depth chart
Mountain West release

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GAME FACTS

Air Force at Boise State

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Bronco Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)

TV: ESPN (Carter Blackburn, Danny Kanell, Allison Williams)

Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender

Records: Boise State is 1-1 overall, 0-0 Mountain West; Air Force is 1-1, 0-1

Series: Boise State leads 1-0 (BSU 37-26, 2011 in Boise)


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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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