A few adages I grew up with in life about football and Speed kills is one. Over the past decade, we've seen college football be a place where the phrase "Speed Kills" was shown to the Broncos of Boise State. Not so much on the speed of the players, but in the speed of the game.
UW Offense v. BSU Defense:
From the opening drive, the speed and tempo that the UW offense was going to be the biggest change. We'd heard about "fast break football" all offseason, but what did that really entail and mean? One of the biggest things was in presnap personal/motion. This is the same offense basically, we've just moved the QB presnap to a pistol/shotgun. On almost every snap, you had a running back or a wide receiver coming in motion, offering the defense another wrinkle to have to defend. Will the man in motion get a hand off on a fly-sweep (A play we have gotten away from since Callier ran it quite effectively at times in 2011), or will it just be a ruse?
As the plays continued, the one thing you really saw was that UW does have the speed with Kevin Smith to keep the safeties pinned deeper, opening the flanks and short middle of the field up. Ross and Mickens were both very impressive in their wiggle and ability to make people miss in space. The initial pull wide though of the pre-snap motion showed that Boise was going to have to cover both vertically and horizontally.
The only thing that really stopped the UW offense on Saturday night against Boise was their own errors. Once they started playing a bit cleaner (less penalties) and Boise was starting to get gassed, the offense rolled like it was 2011 again.
By the 3rd quarter, the speed and tempo of the UW offense was starting to be the 12th man on the field for Boise. Runs by 4 different backs (Sankey, Washington, Mickens and Deontae Cooper who after his carries had me weeping)
The final thing to point out is this team is a running, physical team. Early on, 3rd and 3, a very open down to run or pass. UW ran and got 5 out of the gun with Sankey. 4th and 1 (a call I didn't agree with) and we run the ball, stopped on penetration, but still shows that we are a physical team who happens to have a shotgun and pistol in our arsenal.
UW Defense v. BSU Offense
First time on the field for the men in purple was a "sudden change" turnover and this group did what they've done since Justin Wilcox ambled into town with Tosh Lapoi, Peter Sirmon and the rest of the group, they stiffened and held and forced a turnover of their own. Boise likes to running a "fast" tempo, but as the game went on, Boise slowed down as it seems the pace was a bit frenetic for them and steam was lost early.
Things I really noticed on the defense is that UW is deep at LB, short at DT (Hudson was good, not great and that's all I hoped for) and a bit lost early in the secondary. A couple bad fills in the first half from the back four (#13 had a very poor fill near the line that popped for a gain of 8 when it should've been a stop of 1) were fixed at halftime.
I think this defense is still vulnerable over-the-top outside as Peters and Ducre are good, but the safety play of Washington can be suspect (although, fair play to Parker for the pick early coming over the top). Pressure was constant, even without the sack numbers to back it up. On the early interception, Shirley was their to put some heat on and force more a "chuck" than a "pass".
Any time you don't give up a Touchdown at home, no matter the competition, its a good day. A good way to debut the Young Grey Lady that is the home of our passion, UW football. The interview shot of Sarkisian where there are five decks of the stadium in the background definitely lends itself to a feeling of a Thunderdome, which it should be. On Television, it was difficult to tell if the crowd was a factor as the camera doesn't shake, there were few procedure calls and Boise played a fairly clean game.
Offensively, we were a machine and just had much more quality depth across the board. In the third quarter when Boise had to sub their entire second string defense in, that was the game. Mountain West (and other 'mid-major conferences') teams lack the depth that the traditional powers have. They are more apt to grow their talent and have them play as upperclassmen in my opinion. The game plan was such that exploited our better depth and talent in depth.
Defensively, we were tough, strong and got better as the game wore on. A bye week to focus and sharpen up for an Illinois team that scored 42 yesterday. Get out and enjoy the sunshine one last time before we really settle in with some Husky Fever.
Player of the Game: Deontae Cooper - If you have to ask why, you're apt to be served with a severe ration of hatred. That man deserved, earned and was entitled to those carries more than any other running back in UW history. When he popped back up and was able to move after being tackled, it got really dusty in the dark area that is my heart. Thank you Deontae for reminding me about emotion in a game that I sometimes care way too much about.