BOISE - Heading into the 2016 season the Boise State football team featured a number of new faces on defense, raising questions about how they might perform against high-powered offenses. After two games, Broncos fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Washington State put up some big numbers against Boise State on Saturday night - 520 yards of total offense, 480 yards passing, 71 pass attempts, 55 pass completions. But one number that was not particularly big was Washington State's final point tally of 28.
Boise State's defense took on a "bend, don't break" philosophy for the game against one of the top passing teams in the country. And the plan worked. The Cougars racked up a lot of yards, but the Broncos were able to limit big plays by Luke Falk and company, effectively keeping them out of the end zone more often than not. In fact, only one of Wazzu's first nine drives yielded points.
Much of the credit goes to the stingy performance of the d-line, which, despite losing every starter from 2015, managed to stifle the run game, forcing the Cougars into a one-dimensional passing attack. That unit currently ranks fifth in the country, allowing just 60.5 rushing yards per game.
There were plenty of other bright spots for the Broncos' defense on Saturday, including an 85 yard pick-six by sophomore cornerback Tyler Horton, which, combined with his five tackles, earned him Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors. The unit also produced six tackles for a loss, as well as three key fourth-down stops.
After the game, coach Bryan Harsin said he couldn't have been happier with how the defense performed.
"I thought the defense was awesome tonight," Harsin said. "We scored on defense, I thought our coverage and what we did back there provided issues for their offense and quarterback as well. And certainly that was a big key to our success tonight."
With a talented, but somewhat inexperienced crop of players filling holes vacated by All-Mountain West players like Darian Thompson, Donte Deayon and Kamalei Correa, the defense had high expectations during the offseason. But it wasn't until they faced a high-powered offensive attack - in the form of Washington State's Air Raid - that those offseason questions were answered.
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