The Boise State Broncos started the season like they have so many times over the last two decades- with a trip to a big time Power 5 team to put themselves to the test early. Sadly, a trip to Seattle to take on the No. 10 Washington Huskies proved to be too much for the Broncos, who fell 56-19 in the season opener in front of nearly 70,000 people at Husky Stadium.
Things started VERY well for the Broncos. They won the toss, and instead of trying to grab momentum, Coach Andy Avalos showed faith in his defense, deferring to the second half and giving the opening drive to the Heisman-Hopeful Michael Penix, Jr. That gamble paid off, as the Broncos forced a three and out, including a big time sack on Penix Jr. Both teams traded punts until Ashton Jeanty stepped up, punching in a seven yard touchdown to cap a drive that started on the Bronco’s own 10 yard line. The Broncos would miss the extra point (Doink!), but lead at the quarter break, 6-0.
Penix Jr. waisted no time in the second quarter, taking the lead with a 7 play, 73 yard drive that took only 3:30 off the clock. Penix Jr. capped the drive with the first of three touchdowns to Jalen McMillan. Five player and two minutes later, the Broncos would retake the lead with a Jonah Dalmas 39 yard field goal. That would be the last time the Broncos led. Washington ripped off another McMillian TD, this time for 38 yards, and then added a Ja’Lynn Polk grab for a TD thanks to a 44 yard bomb after a Taylen Green interception. The Broncos tacked on a field goal at the end of the half, but trailed 28-12 at the break.
Ashton Jeanty found the end zone on a 50 yard screen pass just four plays into the second half, breathing life into the Broncos (see below). That would be the last positive that happened in the game, and the less said about the remaining 27:49, the better. Penix Jr. threw another touchdown to Rome Odunze, before two rushing touchdowns put the game to bed. UW finished the game with a touchdown with 4:03 to go, and the final score was achieved.
It’s difficult to feel good about a game that finished with a score that gaudy, on national TV, but there are some positives to take away. Taylen Green showed that, although he’s still a little rough around the edges at times, he has made significant strides in his passing game. His wide receivers did nothing to help him today, dropping multiple balls that were delivered on the numbers. His pocket presence was good as well.
Another plus: Ashton Jeanty is that dude. He showed tonight why he is pushing George Holani for the RB1 spot, and why he is going to be one of the best running backs to come out of Boise State, maybe ever. He caught the ball well, rushed the ball with patience and violence, and tried to keep the Broncos in the game when they looked dead and done going into halftime.
The final plus from this evening: No team that the Broncos will face for the remainder of this year will be anywhere near as dynamic, deep, and explosive as the UW QB/WR combo that took the field today. A secondary that has been questioned all summer long was exposed at times tonight, and the lack of a physical monster like JL Skinner in the secondary is obvious; but this defense was baptized by fire tonight. As they say: it’s all down hill from here.
Even though tonight was rough, Bronco Nation, it’s still okay to be VERY bullish on this team. Wins at home over UCF and North Dakota, combined with road wins over a weakened San Diego State and a solid-at-best Memphis team will have this BSU team right back in the conversation.
For now, the Broncos fall to 0-1 and turn their attention to one of the more highly anticipated home openers in a while: 2017’s most fraudulent national champions: Central Florida.