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The Boise State defense from the Oregon game returneth

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on January 5, 2010 at 9:29 AM


Tuesday, January 5, 2010.
We have a compact Scott Slant column today. But what am I gonna do, take the day off? The first game ball from Boise State’s dramatic 17-10 victory over TCU in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl  last night has to go to Bronco defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. He took a unit that had allowed 275 rushing yards to the Horned Frogs in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl and redesigned it for a very special occasion. You could tell from the get-go that TCU quarterback Andy Dalton was confused by a 4-1-6 look that inserted Jerell Gavins at cornerback and moved Kyle Wilson to safety. Add in the constant shifting and stunting on the BSU defensive line, and you have only the second 14-0 season in college football history. Now the guessing game begins. Where will the Broncos be ranked when it’s all done between Alabama and Texas? And where will they begin in the polls next season?
It had to be the strangest road to a Defensive Player of the Game award ever in a BCS bowl game. Boise State cornerback Brandyn Thompson got the game off to a rousing start with is 51-yard interception return for a touchdown 3½ minutes into the game. But that didn’t stop Dalton from going after him over and over.  There were quick outs and sideline streaks and fades. The defining moment came in the fourth quarter when—after the Horned Frogs had been pinned on their own two-yard-line—they nicked Thompson on consecutive completions totaling 47 yards to get out to the 49. Then , Thompson’s second pick of the night stopped the drive cold. And after he tipped the pass that was intercepted by Winston Venable in the final seconds, Thompson found himself on the podium with Fox’s Chris Myers.
The team that many in the national media characterize as the trick play specialist only used one last night.   And it was a treat. Kyle Brotzman replicated the fake punt he executed in the Hawaii game, this time hitting a wide-open Kyle Efaw right down the middle for 29 yards. It was at a critical point of the game in the fourth quarter, when neither team was able to seize momentum. Wouldn’t you know it—it’s that trick play that is defining Boise State’s victory nationally.  It was only part of Efaw’s night, though. The sophomore from Capital High made a big catch on the next play, setting up the winning touchdown by Doug Martin. Efaw had four receptions for 75 yards on the night to win  Offensive Player of the Game honors.
A courageous effort by Austin Pettis in the Fiesta Bowl. Kellen Moore’s first pass of the night was aimed at the All-WAC junior who’s healing from an ankle fracture. It was incomplete, and—running off the field with a slight limp—Pettis didn’t look much better than he did in the practice video we saw last week. But he came back on again and again, and his one catch of the night was a five-yarder that converted a fourth-and-three to set up Brotzman’s 40-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Boise State offense had an unsung night. Sure, the Broncos gained only 317 total yards. But they knew it was going to be a tough go against the nation’s No. 1 defense. The bottom line: one excusable fumble lost, no interceptions by Kellen Moore, and no sacks of Moore by TCU superstar Jerry Hughes, nor anybody else. Moore was a pedestrian 23-of-39 for 211 yards as he morphed from game-changer to game manager, and it worked out just fine.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BRUNDAGE MOUNTAIN…the best snow in Idaho!
January 5, 2004: The final college football polls for the 2003 season have Boise State finishing 15th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 16th on the AP list after the Broncos’ record 13-1 season. TCU, the team BSU beat in the Fort Worth Bowl a couple weeks earlier, stayed in the rankings, making the Broncos and Horned Frogs the first schools from non-BCS conferences to post back-to-back Top 25 seasons in 12 years.
(Tom Scott delivers five Scott Slant segments every weekday on 1350/KTIK. He also hosts the Scott Slant on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and handles color commentary on KTVB telecasts of Boise State football.)