BOISE — Boise State coach Chris Petersen certainly is not happy with his team’s 2-2 start, but he spent time Monday defending the Broncos’ worst beginning to a season since going 0-2 to start 2005.
Petersen pointed to a difficult schedule — both losses have come to undefeated, ranked teams — mixed with a depth chart filled with plenty of young and inexperienced players as to the reason for the slow start.
And while the 2-2 start is not acceptable, Petersen doesn’t appear to be shocked.
“I’ve said this before, but everybody wants to blow right by it — this will be the toughest schedule that we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Petersen said. “Now, nobody really cares about that and I get that, it’s about finishing on the field, but it’s predictable. These are good teams that we’re playing.”
Friday’s 41-40 loss at Fresno State — which entered the game ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll but moved up to No. 23 and entered the Associated Press Poll at No. 25 following the win — marked the first time since the 2005 season the Boise State lost two games prior to November.
The Broncos have wins over FCS foe UT Martin and Air Force sandwiched around Friday’s loss to Fresno State and a season-opening loss at Washington, which is now 3-0 and ranked No. 16 in the Coaches poll and No. 20 in the AP poll.
“(People) just take it for granted around here from years and years (of winning),” Petersen said. “And hey, we’re working, so by the end of this process this season that we feel good about ourselves and we have a heck of a team, but we’re certainly not there and we have to have a little bit of luck to stay healthy so we can practice very hard and if we do that and keep fighting, we’ll get better.
“Are where we need to be? No, we’re not. We’re not. We see it, we know it, our guys know it, so we’ll keep working our tail off, but if we were 3-1, that wouldn’t change. “We have to improve this week and get a chance to go out there Saturday and see if we have made any strides.”
The Broncos host winless Southern Missisippi in a non-conference game Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. at Bronco Stadium.
SOUTHWICK ‘FINE’: Petersen was non-committal about the status of quarterback Joe Southwick for Saturday’s game against Southern Miss but did confirm he’s not dealing with a long-term injury.
Southwick returned to finish Friday’s game after a brief trip to the sidelines during the second quarter following what appeared to be an injury to his right shoulder when he was tackled on a running attempt.
The quarterback said after Friday’s game that he was “hurting” and said he’d see how he felt on Saturday. He was not made available to the media on Monday.
“He’s fine,” Petersen said. “Unless a guy is out long term, I’m not commenting on it. It doesn’t help us. Southern Miss is going to sit here and watch every word I’m saying, so I don’t comment on it. He’s not out long term and so we’re good to go.”
PLAYERS GET TWO STRAIGHT OFF DAYS: Much to the dismay of Petersen the players got rare consecutive off days on Saturday and Sunday following Friday night’s game due to an NCAA rule that calls for one mandatory off day during every seven-day period.
Petersen voiced his displeasure for the rule Monday.
“It’s frustrating because we’re not going to overwork our guys, we pay very close attention to that,” Petersen said. “But I don’t think the NCAA pays attention to guys like us. We have to play on Fridays and Thursdays and all this kind of stuff and it changes everything.
“We’re going to do it again. We have BYU on a Friday night. We’ll make it work.”
Petersen said they were required to take both days off, “even if you are going to give them four days off the next week because of the bye.”
Something as simple as a mandatory film session counts as a day of practice and was not allowed, but Petersen estimated that over half the team came in on their own for optional weight lifting and film study sessions.
PETERSEN GETS RIGHT TO WORK: Petersen didn’t allow himself any time to clear his mind following Friday’s loss, saying Monday that he fired up the laptop and watched the game during the flight back to Boise that night just like he does on every road trip.
“First thing I do,” Petersen said. “I watch every snap, and I didn’t get through every snap because the plane was too quick. … I watch it and then the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is watch it again.”
BRONCO BITS: Petersen said after Friday’s game that wide receiver Matt Miller’s rushing attempt on the fake extra-point try in the second quarter was wide open and just needed better execution. He changed his stance Monday after watching it on film. “It wasn’t wide open. They executed better than us. I went back and looked at it. I thought we had it. Matt thought we had it. They played it a little bit better than we played it.” The Broncos trailed 17-16 after the miss instead of tying the game with an extra point. … Petersen said the decision to go with the fake punt from their own 19-yard line was made by safety Dillon Lukehart, who was serving as the punt protection and ended up catching the pass from punter Trevor Harman that went for a 30-yard gain. “He knows when to get out of it and he knows the look we’re looking for.” … Petersen said the offense didn’t seem to be bothered by running an unusually high 100 plays Friday night. “I think our guys were fine. I don’t think anybody was complaining about being tired. Matt Miller probably took a few too many snaps. Those receivers run a lot. His play count was probably a little bit high, and maybe another receiver in there without Aaron (Burks), but other than that, I think guys were fine.”