Be Prepared: Breaking Down What to Know About Boise State vs UT Martin this Weekend
The Boise State Broncos got their first win of the season this last weekend, and it was a big one. No, it wasn't against a power 5 team or a top 25 team, but it did give them their first road win of the season, their first win of the season, and it was their first conference win of the season as well. The Broncos had not won a football game since November, 20 of 2021, and ironically the last game they won was against the same team they beat this past weekend, the New Mexico Lobos. Let's dive in and see how they did it, as well as preview the game this coming week again the UT Martin Skyhawks.
Recapping Boise State vs New Mexico
The Boise State Broncos beat New Mexico this past Friday 31-14. Boise State was able to flip the script this week, getting out to a 24-0 lead before the Lobos were able to get on the board, similar to the situation the Broncos found themselves in the week before. The Broncos built a 10-0 lead at the half, starting the scoring off with an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Hank Bachmeier to Latrell Caples for a 7-0 lead, before kicking a field goal to extend it before halftime. The Broncos would continue to score through the air, as Bachmeier had three touchdowns passing on the day, with one interception. One of the keys to the game was limiting turnovers, and while the Broncos did much better this last week, with only one, they did still lose the turnover battle for the second straight week, having not forced any themselves.
One of the other keys to the game was sticking with one quarterback, and after the Oregon State game, many wondered who that would be, but coach Andy Avalos stuck with his senior signal caller and it paid off this week. Bachmeier looked much different than the previous week and settled down as the game went along. The third key was to establish the run, and the Broncos were able to average 4.1 yards per carry, as well as rushed for 148 yards, but were unable to find the end zone or get any one of the backs 100 yards for the game. Freshman running back Ashton Jeanty was a bright spot and did show some promising runs, and could see his workload increase in the coming weeks. There was much to be excited about, as a conference divisional road win is always big, but there is much to improve on as well, which is what you want this early in the season. A good conference win, and it puts the Broncos in the driver's seat in the Mountain West Mountain division to start the year.
Know Your Opponent: UT Martin Skyhawks
The University of Tennessee Martin Skyhawks plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, a part of the Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision. They are 1-1 on the season, like the Broncos, with a 42-25 win over Western Illinois their opening game, followed by a 35-30 loss to Missouri State last weekend. UT Martin is led by their longtime head coach Jason Simpson who has been head coach since 2006 and has led the Skyhawks to an overall record of 101-81 in that time. They are currently coming off his best season with a 10-3 record a year ago, having won the Ohio Valley Conference, before falling in the second round of the playoffs.
The Skyhawks love to air it out and are led by their senior quarterback, Dresser Winn, who has thrown for 661 yards and 6 touchdowns with only one interception through two games. An astounding stat to watch for heading into their matchup with the Broncos is that the Skyhawks have not given up a sack in their first two games. A flaw that could hurt them in this game, is while they have not missed an extra point, they are 1/3 on field goal attempts.
Who to Watch: Boise State
I am curious to see if freshman running back Ashton Jeanty gets a bigger workload this week. He proved he could move the ball last week and for the second week in a row, a running back was unable to find the end zone. Do the Broncos stay with Holani who is struggling, or lean more on the freshman who has more rushing yards on half the carries? This is a game the Broncos are expected to win and is a great chance to see what the freshman can do with more carries.
Who to Watch: UT Martin
For UT Martin, the player to watch is their quarterback, Dresser Winn. The offense goes as he goes. He is currently averaging 330 yards passing a game and 3 touchdowns a game as well. He has not been sacked and has taken great control of the ball. He is not the most mobile quarterback, with only two rushes for 16 yards so far, but with his pocket staying so clean he hasn't had to. If he can stand in the pocket and stay standing, then it could be a long day for the Bronco defense. If they can get him out of rhythm and force him to move, it could make his day a little longer. Force him to make passes he doesn't want to and see if you can force a mistake. Through two weeks he hasn't made many, so it is easier said than done.
3 Keys to the Game
1) Take Care of Business Early
Boise State should be able to handle UT Martin and should win by a significant margin if they take care of business the way they should. We saw how the Oregon State game went, and last week in college football showed us that nothing is easy these days. Don't expect to win, but show up and make it happen. If the Broncos do what they should, they should be able to build a big lead early and let the backups play most of the second half or fourth quarter. Don't let UT Martin hang around and get hope.
2) Get the Running Game Going
As stated previously, we are two weeks into the season and no running back has scored a touchdown. There were no rushing touchdowns at all last week. Establish the run and let the backs build confidence by finding the end zone, as well as getting into a rhythm. With an opponent the Broncos should be able to out talent, this is the game to get things figured out and rolling before the heart of the season gets going. Figure out which backs are your best and let the offensive line establish their dominance.
3) Pressure the Quarterback
You can not allow UT Martin to stand in the backfield and pick their spots through the air. If Winn can scan the field and pick his spots, this game remains close, but if the defense can get pressure on him, it can make this thing over a lot quicker. Don't allow him to get comfortable and pick his spots. Blitz early if you have to, but if you do, you have to get home, or else this game will turn into a shoot-out. This is an experienced established defense, and I am sure they will come with a game plan and be ready for Winn.
Prediction for Boise State vs UT Martin
The Broncos need to come out and establish their dominance early and take any UT Martin momentum away from the get-go. This is the first home game of the season, and Bronco fans are excited to get back out to Albertsons Stadium and cheer on their Broncos. The team and crowd will be hyped and the Broncos will come out ready to play. Unlike the previous two games, they come out hot and get out to a big lead in the first half. In the second half, the reserves will begin making their way into the game to make things look a little closer, but the Broncos win this one big. Boise State 42 UT Martin 10
The game will be at 2:00 PM this Saturday on FS1 if you are unable to make it to Boise for the home opener. The Broncos were able to get in the win column a week ago and look to do so again this week as they look to move their record above five hundred to 2-1. UT Martin can make this a game, but I don't see it. This is the game the Broncos need to work out some of the offensive issues, mainly the rushing game. Hopefully, they can let some of their depth play and let their younger guys get meaningful snaps before conference play gets into full swing. The weather should be nice, and it will be great to see the blue turf on our televisions once more, or in person for those attending.