HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The bad news is Boise State’s 109 rushing yards Saturday at Southern Miss were the Broncos’ worst against a non-BCS conference team since 2009.
The good news is that in recent weeks, when the team has focused on a particular aspect of the game, it gets fixed in a hurry.
Boise State averaged 3.3 yards per carry against the Golden Eagles, with D.J. Harper’s 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter the team’s longest run of the day.
"I think we’ve got to run the ball a little better and cleaner, we did at times, but we had some negative plays," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "If we can establish our run a little bit more, it’s going to take a lot of pressure off everything else."
After running for only 37 yards in the opener against Michigan State, the Broncos stressed running the ball better. The next week, they ran for 295. After struggling in the red zone against BYU, Boise State went 5-for-7 in the red zone at New Mexico, the last not converted because of taking a knee to end the game.
The Broncos were outscored 29-7 in the second half against the Lobos on Sept. 29, but at Southern Miss, owned a 23-0 halftime lead and outscored the Golden Eagles 17-14 in the final two quarters.
"I think when we see something in a week that we do wrong, that following week when we really try to come back and emphasize it in practice, we make big strides in improving that," Harper said.
Harper had a team-high 47 yards on 13 carries, while redshirt freshman Jay Ajayi ran for 40 yards on nine attempts. Boise State had eight runs for losses Saturday, with Harper saying Petersen "is right — we need to take a few of those out."
Knowing the team is 4-1 but still has found a fair amount of areas to improve, it has the offense excited to know it still has a shot to reach its potential.
"That does encourage us a lot … once we’re finally able to put it all together, we’re going to be pretty good," Harper said.