ESPN analyst expects ‘high-scoring … quarterback duel’ from Boise State-Fresno State football game


Coach Chris Petersen, players, talk about the matchup with Fresno State.

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

ESPN ANALYST BREAKS DOWN BOISE STATE-FRESNO STATE MATCHUP

Former Florida State QB Danny Kanell, the ESPN analyst for last week’s Boise State-Air Force game and tonight’s Boise State-Fresno State game, answered a few questions by email this week.

Q: What was your impression of Boise State on Friday night?

A: “Offensively, two guys really jumped out to me. Joe Southwick played just about flawless. He had one mistake late in the game that didn’t cost his team anything but other than that he made excellent decisions and threw the ball extremely accurately. I don’t care if you are throwing against air, completing 93 percent of your passes is quite the accomplishment. The other guy who impressed me was Jay Ajayi. He is a very physical runner who also has the speed to get the edge and get you a long TD run. Plus, I liked the fact that he bounced back after a costly fumble and didn’t let it affect his style or production.

“Defensively, I still have my concerns. For three weeks in a row, this defense has struggled to stop the run. But I also don’t think many other defenses in the country are playing with as many true and redshirt freshmen on their two-deeps. I expect they will get better with each week as the game starts to slow down for them.”

Q: What do you think of the changes the Broncos made to the offense?

A: “I like them. I don’t think they are as drastic as people have made them out to be, either. They have always sprinkled in some no-huddle and going to it predominantly will only make them better at it. Using the pistol formation is a great way to get your running back running downhill instead of sideways when he gets the handoff. And it’s tougher to key-blitz defensively — meaning if he lines up next to the QB, blitz the opposite side. With the RB lined up directly behind the QB you don’t know which way he could go.”

Q: What’s your take on Joe Southwick and Derek Carr?

A: “I like both of them. I can’t wait to see if Southwick can continue to be as accurate when he is forced to throw the football down the field more frequently. He really looks comfortable in the system and makes solid decisions.

“I still haven’t seen Carr yet in person but know the NFL scouts are high on him. From the game film I watched he has the size and the big arm that you look for and he plays in a system that utilizes the pass as well as any team in the country.

“It’s interesting because both of these guys have really big shoes to fill and that can be tough. Southwick had to follow a legend in Kellen Moore and Carr has always been compared to his older brother David who was the first pick in the NFL Draft. It’s not always easy to follow in somebody else’s big footsteps but both these guys are holding their own just fine.”

Q: What do you think gives each team the most trouble in this game?

A: “I would say Fresno State’s rushing attack would give Boise State’s young defense trouble but they pass the ball predominantly so you can throw that out. Although, I still think the young Boise State defense is a concern versus a veteran QB like Carr.

“The other matchup to watch is Jay Ajayi versus Fresno State’s defense. He is one tough back to slow down.”

Q: How do you think this game plays out?

A: “I can’t wait to see this quarterback duel. I would expect a high-scoring game where both QBs put up good numbers and showcase their talents on a national stage. Carr showed off his in the thrilling week one win against Rutgers and Southwick showed what he was capable of last week against Air Force with the record-setting performance.”

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A SHOWDOWN AT THE LINE

Washington was able to disrupt Boise State’s passing game by taking a physical approach to defending the wide receivers. The Broncos expect similar tactics from the Bulldogs.

“They have very good speed,” wide receiver Kirby Moore said. “There’s a good chance they could challenge us as receivers and we need to be able to go out there and make plays for Joe.”

Said offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Robert Prince: “It’s just going to be kind of a streetfight. They’re going to be up on us and we’re going to have to get releases. And the most physical guy is going to win.”

BULLDOG STADIUM: ‘IT’S EPIC’

Boise State’s players are looking forward to the hostile atmosphere at Bulldog Stadium even though they didn’t handle the intensity of Husky Stadium well in the opener. A few quotes about Bulldog Stadium:

— “That atmosphere — good job,” defensive end Kharyee Marshall said.

— “It’s a very tough environment. Hopefully we knocked the cobwebs off a little bit with the game at Washington and more people are ready to go for this game,” wide receiver Kirby Moore said.

— “It’s epic,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “Probably one of the best stages in college football I’ve played in — and I’ve played in a lot of good places. This is probably one of my favorites. It’s back at home (he’s from the Bay Area). Being around a lot of fans who hate you, we love it.”

NOTES & QUOTES

— Sophomore right tackle Rees Odhiambo on his first three games as a starter: “It’s getting a lot easier to play than early on. With each game I feel like the game speed slows down a lot for me and it’s a lot easier for me to recognize things.

— Fresno State safety Derron Smith on Boise State: “Their offense is always good. They played a really good defense in a hostile environment in Washington. The first game is always tough, but I think they’re starting to hit their stride on offense, and that’s going to be a big challenge for us to contain them.”

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OUR COVERAGE

Monday blog: Notes and videos from Chris Petersen’s press conference, new recruit, Southern Miss game time
Tuesday story: Boise State football news and notes
Tuesday blog: What this game means to Fresno State
Tuesday blog: Mountain West Football Report
Wednesday story: Derek Carr hopes for breakthrough season
Wednesday story: Scouting the Bulldogs
Name the Score Contest
Wednesday blog: Ajayi tries to slow pickle juice phenomenon
Thursday story: Petersen’s role in the offense, and other notes
Thursday blog: Improved run game, tough test for Southwick
Friday story: Brian Murphy on the changing world of defense
Friday story: What’s at stake
Friday story: A rivalry with few memorable moments
Friday story: Game breakdown

•••

GAME NOTES

Boise State depth chart
Boise State stats
Boise State game notes
Fresno State game notes
Mountain West weekly release

•••

FRESNO STATE COVERAGE

Fresno Bee

You can follow writers Robert Kuwada (@rkuwada) and B.J. Anteola (@Banteola_TheBee) on Twitter.

•••

GAME FACTS

Boise State at Fresno State

When: 7:01 p.m. MT Friday

Where: Bulldog Stadium (41,031, FieldTurf), Fresno, Calif.

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

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

Records: Boise State is 2-1 overall, 1-0 Mountain West; Fresno State is 2-0, 0-0

Rankings: Fresno State is ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Series: Boise State leads 11-4 (BSU 20-10, 2012 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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