BOISE — Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr claims the Boise State flag that his brother said he had to hang in his house until he beat the Broncos no longer is up on his wall.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen isn’t so sure.
“I know where that flag is, so don’t let him kid you on that,” Petersen said. “Not exactly sure (where), but I know he’s looking at it.”
Carr’s older brother David gave him the Boise State flag when he arrived on campus in 2009. The instructions were to use the flag as motivation and leave it hanging until the Bulldogs finally beat the Broncos.
David Carr was the senior quarterback for Fresno State in 2001 when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 8 in the country and moving toward a BCS berth when Boise State went into Fresno and pulled off a 35-30 upset victory.
The loss has stuck with the Carr family ever since.
“Somehow my dog got it last year,” Derek Carr told reporters in Fresno earlier this week. “He jumped like 8 feet off the ground and got it down somehow. I don’t know what happened to it.”
Carr became uncomfortable that the flag had become a prominent storyline in the previous two meetings since he became the starter, which could be his reason for downplaying it as he prepares for his final meeting with the Broncos.
“I felt like it was a distraction to the team and that’s something I don’t want,” Carr said. “I never want something to be about me and something on my wall, so that’s over with and now I feel a lot more comfortable.
“It’s just another game. We’re preparing for them, it’s a rivalry game, we love to play them, it’s very competitive, and that’s where my focus is now.”
The young Boise State secondary certainly has its focus on Carr, who some predict could follow in his brothers footsteps as a first-round draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Carr passed for more than 4,000 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2012 while playing with a sports hernia and abdomen muscle tear that he suffered during fall camp. He had surgery following the season and has been even more productive now that he’s completely healthy.
Carr has passed for 661 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with one interception in two games. He was 52-for-73 for 456 yards and five touchdowns in a season-opening 52-51 overtime win over Rutgers.
“He’s just good,” Petersen said. “He’s fundamentally very good. He’s been playing for a long time. I can’t believe he’s still there. He has a great command of what they are doing and he can throw. He has very good arm talent, the ball gets out quickly and then you couple that with really good receivers, and that’s a good group.
“He doesn’t take sacks, he’s mobile, he’ll run if he needs to but he can buy time with his feet. He’s one of the better quarterbacks in the country without question.”
Boise State recruited Carr before eventually landing current senior quarterback Joe Southwick. Carr spoke at length during Mountain West media days in Las Vegas about his admiration for the Boise State program and Petersen.
Carr even said he roots for the Broncos whenever they play anybody but Fresno State.
“Don’t believe it,” Petersen joked. “He’s a good guy. He’s a heck of a player, a good guy and a good competitor.”
Carr has an impressive group of receivers on the outside including Davante Adams, who has 19 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns in two games. And the Boise State secondary struggled against a similar spread attack at Washington on Aug. 31.
Against arguably the best quarterback they’ll face all season, the Broncos hope their young group of defensive backs have made big strides in the three weeks since.
“We will find out this week, there’s no question about it,” Petersen said. “They will have to have improved a great deal from game one to where we are now to hang in there.”