BOISE — Last week, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said he wanted a better showing from his team’s running game.
Mission accomplished — at least so far.
The Broncos racked up 215 yards on the ground Saturday against Fresno State, the best showing by any team other than Oregon against the Bulldogs, who came into the game yielding 150 yards per game.
Sixth-year senior D.J. Harper had his third 100-yard game in the Broncos’ 20-10 win, picking up 122 yards on 21 carries, a bump up from his 47 yards the prior week at Southern Miss. The Broncos had 26 yards on eight rushes in the first quarter, but averaged 5.5 yards per carry the rest of the way.
“I think we just stayed with it — early on, they kind of stuffed us a little bit … we knew chipping away, we’d be just fine,” Harper said.
In addition to Harper’s output Saturday, the Broncos got a boost from redshirt freshman Jay Ajayi, who a career-best 15 carries and 91 yards.
The 222-pound Dallas native was able to bull his way to extra yardage on multiple carries.
“Jay did a very nice job, even when he didn’t have a chance to really get things started, of breaking that first tackle and making things happen — that was impressive,” Petersen said. “I think you have to have a 1-2 punch ... as good as D.J. is, we need to have a 1-2 punch.”
Boise State’s 120 passing yards were the fewest since a win Sept. 16, 2006 in windy conditions at Wyoming. Though the Broncos weren’t able to hit many long passes, the rushing attack kept churning out the yardage.
“The O-line did a great job executing … D.J. and Jay, those two guys can run the ball really well, and it was exciting to see them get hot and carry the offense,” quarterback Joe Southwick said.
Though the 215 yards were Boise State’s second-most this season and the third 200-yard game this season, the Broncos haven’t been able to post back-to-back games with 200 yards or more. Petersen still feels the run game could’ve been better — two drives stalled with the Broncos having second downs at the Fresno State 3-yard line. Ten runs by Bronco backs went for a loss or no gain.
“It was a little bit of two steps forward, one step back — I thought we had too many negative rushing plays,” Petersen said.
Boise State’s next opponent could be a prime shot for a second straight 200-yard game. UNLV is 107th in rushing defense, giving up 215 yards per game on the ground. Three teams (Air Force, Louisiana Tech and Nevada) have run for 300 yards or more against the Rebels.