Last week was a disappointing loss for the BYU Cougars. However, there isn’t really time to think about that because Boise State is coming to town and they are looking phenomenal this year. At 6-0 and ranked #14, this could get ugly quick. To learn a little more about the Broncos, we spoke with Russ Wood from One Bronco Nation Under God.
Vanquish the Foe: Hank Bachmeier was playing really well to start the season, then got hurt in the win over Hawaii. What news do you have of his injury, and what does Chase Cord bring to the offense if Bachmeier can’t go on Saturday?
Russ Wood: Bachmeier has been doing his best impersonation of a tackling dummy (no pun intended) to start this season, getting hit about 16 times per game. So much so, that the ESPN commentators have started calling him “Bonk-meier.” (Not really; that would be so rude.) I’ve found that our depth chart tends to keep the opposition guessing with a lot of “ORs” and players listed who’ve been out for a while but might possibly be able to play this week (BTW, Doug Martin will be our starting running back). So the best place to go for current information is “Tweeter,” an application kids use to “Twerk.” Someone who was at the last game said he saw Bachmeier mouth “I’m okay” as he was slapping fives.
After being lost to injury, Boise St QB Hank Bachmeier greets fans after the game and I saw him mouth “I’m OK” more than once. pic.twitter.com/3U6VyphNfC— Ron Counts (@Ron_BroncoBeat) October 13, 2019
That being said, it really wouldn’t surprise me if he sat out this game to heal before the bye, and the reason I say that is because of the second part of your question: Chase Cord (and Jaylon Henderson). Our backups not only proved more than capable in last game, but I thought they actually played better than Bachmeier has been playing recently. Cord has primarily been used as a running quarterback (a-la Tim Tebow, without the thinker pose), but he is a surprisingly accurate passer as well (and goes through his reads before getting pummeled). Henderson also went 9-for-13 for 187 yards and a TD against Hawai’i last week. Neither one would hurt my feelings to start, but we’re wishing Bachmeier a speedy recovery, nonetheless.
VTF: Boise State has a two-headed monster at running back with Robert Mahone and George Holani, each averaging over 5 yards per carry. What are the strengths of each runner, and who do you expect to have the bigger role against BYU?
Russ: Lately, it seems like they’re splitting time more evenly, but Mahone still gets the majority of the carries. Mahone seems more like a power rusher, but still able to make the first tackler miss and drag the other would-be tacklers with him. He also will hurdle the occasional tackler, so be on the lookout for that. Holani is more of a quick-cut runner, with the ability to stop and go in the blink of an eye. Both are pretty exciting to watch! But if one fumbles, expect to see more of one than the other.
VTF: What can BYU do on defense to slow down BSU’s high powered offense? Which BYU defensive player do you see being the most important in that effort?
Russ: Stop the run. If BYU can make Boise State one-dimensional, then they have to rely on our somewhat untested passing game. The BYU players most important to that effort are going to be Kyle Van Noy and Fred Warner. They in town this week?
VTF: Rank the 3 levels of the Broncos defense from strongest to weakest. What makes each group strong or weak?
Russ: 1. Defensive Line—Curtis Weaver is going to be a force in the NFL. He has a motor that doesn’t stop. Sonatane Lui is also a wrecking ball and pretty nimble for a 316-pound guy. David “The Moa Constrictor” Moa, when healthy, also gets his share of tackles.
2. Secondary—Our safeties, starting with DeAndre Pierce, are solid. DeAndre Pierce is thrilling to watch, reminding me of a young Earl Thomas III the way he flies across the field and throws his body at receivers. He has been plagued with injuries, but I hope to see him on the field more. His replacement, Tyreque Jones, has filled in excellently in his absence. You can also count on hearing Kekoa Nawahine’s and Kekaula Kaniho’s names called in association with a big play. (We need more interceptions though, guys!)
3. Linebackers—The reason I rank them last is not because they aren’t playing well, it’s mostly because we are thin. It seems like every time one of our players becomes the leading tackler, they have season-ending injuries. It’s almost like the Madden curse. Ezekiel Noa was this season’s leading tackler before tearing his ACL and breaking his wrist (is the curse getting worse?). The good news is (if there can be any in an injury) is that he was still eligible to redshirt. Riley Whimpey (who was the leading tackler last season when he was injured against BYU) is anything but.
VTF: Curtis Weaver is now the all-time Mountain West sacks leader. How can the Cougars slow him down, and what other players do you expect to step up with Weaver getting all the attention?
Russ: I hear he is a sucker for waffles. Maybe leave a giant plate outside his hotel room before the game?
VTF: Which player on BYU’s offense can you see having a big game against Boise State? Why?
Russ: I’m curious to see if the Jaren Hall hype is real. I really hope he’s cleared to play! Last weekend, he was awarded a game ball on late-night ESPN, and regardless of the reasons given, he still got a game ball! He seems like a threat to pass and run, so it will be interesting to see how Sitake’s gameplan revolves around his skillset. If not him, then I’m curious to see if Baylor Romney can live up to the family name and buy Chubbuck, Idaho.
Russ: Well, it’s always tough to play in Provo, and we’re dealing with a lot of unknowns, but I think other aspects of Boise’s game will be ready, and we might even see a special teams punt return for a TD from Avery Williams (he’s about due for one). Expect WR John Hightower to have a big game also. BSU 42-24 BYU, mostly because I like palindromes.