Plenty of folks are still processing Saturday’s chaotic 20-17 win over Wyoming, a wild two-minute ending that, days later, is still just as bizarre.
Here are five takeaways from the Broncos’ win and what it means for the rest of their season.
1. Wyoming’s play call is still incomprehensible
You know how the last two minutes of Saturday’s win played out. JL Skinner picked off a pass to seemingly seal the game, waving at the fans in Laramie. Then George Holani fumbled. Wyoming recovered and had the ball in field-goal range with 45 seconds remaining.
What I didn’t realize until rewatching was the Cowboys had a timeout. They could have thrown the ball over the middle and still stopped the clock. Or handed it off to star tailback Titus Swen, who had already bulldozed BSU’s defense to the tune of 212 yards. Instead, they had Jayden Clemons, a backup quarterback who completed three passes all night drop back.
The banter on the live television broadcast hits on what everyone was thinking.
“Jayden Clemons has had a miserable night throwing the ball,” said play-by-play man Rich Waltz. “He’s 3 of 15.”
Analyst Aaron Taylor emphatically chimes in: “Protect the football.”
And just as Taylor said that last word, Clemons reared back to fire a bomb.
“Wait!?” Taylor said live.
About a tenth of a second later, Skinner brought down his second interception of the night on a pass that should have never been thrown.
“Why are you throwing that into double coverage when a field goal ties it up?” Taylor asked in the broadcast. “The inexperience of Jaydon Clemons.”
Asked by reporters postgame about the decision to let Clemons take a shot down the field in that situation, Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said he gave the go-ahead. Days later, he was still thinking about the call.
“That was the decision,” Bohl told reporters Monday. “I wish I could say I slept like a baby that night. I woke up and I cried every hour. It was hard. It was hard. I felt for Jayden, I felt for our football team and I felt for all of our guys who put it on the line.”
2. Can’t give enough credit to Taylen Green for his game-saving tackle
On whatever highlight montage is created from this season, Taylen Green’s tackle needs to be included.
When Holani lost his first fumble of the season, it was the Boise State quarterback who tracked down DeVonne Harris and tackled him out of bounds. Green almost made it too routine.
He took a great angle, sure to not get caught over pursuing. And he did not try to lazily push Harris out of bounds but, rather, tackled the 6-foot-4 and 225 pounder so hard that Green’s helmet flew off.
“It was a great tackle,” defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson said. “I was like, ‘Taylen, if you ever want a couple reps, come on over (to defense). We’ll find an extra package for you.”
Danielson isn’t the first coach to try and get Green to play defense. After his sophomore year, before he had even played a snap of varsity football, he went to a camp and former TCU coach Gary Patterson actually offered Green to play defensive end and wide receiver.
Obviously that didn’t happen, but it would be a show to see 6-6, 220-pound Green rushing off the edge.
3. How much is Boise State going to try against Utah State?
With Saturday’s win over Wyoming, the Broncos clinched the Mountain West Mountain Division and set up a title-game clash with Fresno State on December 3 on The Blue.
This means this Friday’s regular-season game vs. Utah State at 10 a.m. doesn’t mean much. Boise State is, essentially, playing for pride, a senior-day win and to keep alive the chance of double-digit victories for the first time since 2019.
To an outsider, Friday seems like the perfect time to rest a number of starters, to give a week off to the handful of guys who have been battling injuries for weeks now. The Broncos are clearly banged up. Against Wyoming, BSU had nine guys out because of injury including starters Demitri Washington, Ezekiel Noa and Ty Jones.
Perhaps another week off would allow them to be ready to go for the Mountain West Championship against Fresno State.
Asked about the balance of wanting to win the game on senior day while also wanting to rest guys ahead of next week’s title game, Avalos didn’t give it a second of thought.
“Next question,” he said.
Danielson offered a bit more, saying: “To be honest with you guys, we are 100% locked in on Utah State. That’s the only game that matters. After our game on Friday, we’ll prepare for the next one that comes up.”
4. Coaches not concerned about George Holani
Less than an hour after his fumble, Holani hopped on Twitter and fired off his first tweet in 11 months.
“Great team win,” he said. “Promise I’ll be better.”
It was unfortunate play, but it was also just the second fumble of Holani’s season and the first one he’s lost in more than a year. Ans let’s not forget, Holani rushed the ball for 132 yards on just 20 carries.
“Fluky is a good word for that fumble,” said offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. “Because, one, George isn’t a fumbler. And then, two, the fact it popped right into the guys hands. … You should have seen him today in practice. He was acting like he had 72 padlocks around that football when he was carrying it every time.”
5. Linebacker Andrew Simpson could be a playmaker for years to come
There is a bit of a question mark at the linebacker position after this season. Ezekiel Noa will be out of eligibility following the year and it is unclear if DJ Schramm, a redshirt senior, will return for a sixth season.
In any case, Boise State should feel better about the future of the position following Saturday.
That’s because redshirt freshman Andrew Simpson has been superb. Starting at weakside linebacker the past two weeks in place of the injured Noa, Simpson has become a missile on the field, flying towards the ball and consistently making an impact.
He’s tallied five tackles in each of the past two weeks and had a heck of a sack against Nevada. But the coaches still want to see more consistency with Simpson.
“He’s made some tackles and things like that, but he’s got a lot of growth to do,” Avalos said. “He’s got a lot of growth to do with his process and how consistent he is throughout the course of the week. It will help him continue to grow.”