BOISE — A day after the worst loss in the Chris Petersen era, the Boise State Broncos began trying to figure out just what happened in a stunning 38-6 loss at Washington on Saturday.
Sure, the Huskies were good. But the Broncos struggled — in every facet of the game.
Boise State failed to score a touchdown for the first time since a 58-0 loss at Washington State in 1997, which was also the last time the Broncos scored fewer than six points.
“At crunch time we didn’t capitalize,” Petersen said after the game. “We put ourselves in a position to where you’d think we would be able to, but that’s why I am anxious to go put that tape on and I know the kids are too and the rest of the coaches.”
Sunday’s film session likely wasn’t a pretty one. The Broncos’ revamped and reworked offense didn’t provide a play longer than 18 yards while the defense allowed 592 yards to Washington and let the Huskies convert 11-of-15 third-down attempts.
Even the special teams had issues when kicker Dan Goodale’s first field goal attempt in the first quarter was blocked. He eventually went on to make a pair of field goals, finishing 2-for-3 on the night.
The Broncos were 4.5-point underdogs entering the game and Washington had several factors working for them including the revenge factor of losing last year’s MAACO Bowl Last Vegas to Boise State and the opening of the newly renovated Husky Stadium.
It was how the Broncos lost that had some scratching their heads. Boise State had lost eight previous games in the seven years since Petersen took over by a combined 40 points. They lost Saturday night by 32.
“Our coaches are going to come in, they’re going to get behind us and they’re going to help us get the attitude that we need to have,” linebacker Corey Bell said. “I mean this hurts, but we’re going to come back next week and we’re going to be fighting just like we always do. That’s kind of the attitude we live by as Broncos — just get back on your horse and we’re going to go.”
The Broncos’ previous biggest loss came in 2007, when they lost 24-10 at Washington. They lost two games in 2012 by a combined six points and lost five games the previous five seasons by a total of 11 points prior to Saturday.
All the talk entering the season was about the expected return to the Bronco offense of old. After averaging 30.2 points per game last season — the lowest since 1998 — the Broncos gutted the playbook to focus on formations and plays that fit their personnel.
But the no-huddle, pistol formation they came up with looked simple and boring compared to the tricks and big-play offense usually associated with Boise State football.
The Broncos ran a number of slow-developing run plays and struggled to get much of anything going in the passing game. It was a look and a result nobody saw coming.
“I think we kept battling,” quarterback Joe Southwick said. “Washington did a heck of a job. I think we fought hard as a group. The good news is we have 11 more to go, and this game will be far behind us in a couple weeks.”
The Broncos’ defense — which featured seven new starters — also had issues. It allowed 161 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Washington running back Bishop Sankey while quarterback Keith Price passed for 324 yards. The Huskies recorded 33 first downs and averaged 7.0 yards per play.
So it’s back to the film study and back to the drawing board for Boise State, which has improvements to make across the board before they host Tennessee-Martin in the home opener on Saturday.
“We’re going right back to work,” Petersen said. “We have to get better.”