CORVALLIS, Ore. – Boise State suffered a disappointing 34-17 loss to Oregon State on Saturday night in the season opener at Reser Stadium.
But the final score seems like a distant side story.
It wasn’t just that the Broncos were dominated on national TV and committed five turnovers to lose the opener for the second time in two seasons under coach Andy Avalos.
It was a much more surprising – heck shocking – development in the second quarter. That’s when Boise State benched starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier after the four-year starter committed three turnovers on the first six drives.
“We can’t turn the ball over like we did,” head coach Andy Avalos said. “This is football and the number one deal is ball security and taking care of the football. Especially on the road against a team like this, we can’t make those mistakes and obviously we made an adjustment there when we weren’t improving.
Redshirt freshman Taylen Green came in and played well – he rushed for a 74-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and helped Boise State momentarily turn a 27-3 deficit to a 27-17 game – but what the Broncos do from here figures to be the talk of the town for the next week.
Green finished 19 of 28 passing for 155 yards and an interception. He also rushed 11 times for 102 yards and two scores.
“Taylen got his opportunity to go in there and We were able to adjust some things and get some drives going there,” Avalos said. “Obviously he was able to do some things with his legs that gave the offense a little bit of a spark and was able to spread the defense out a little bit.
“We were excited at the fact that he took what the defense gave him and stayed on most of his progressions and made the throws. The beautiful thing with Taylen is if it’s not there he can extend plays with his legs and he obviously did that and made some really goods plays, got some first downs and had obviously the long touchdown run.”
Will the Broncos stick with the talented redshirt freshman and turn the keys over to their quarterback of the future earlier than most expected? Or do they go back to Bachmeier, who had two bad interceptions and lost a fumble but has started 26 career games -including all 12 last year.
It’s quite the mess for Avalos, who drops to 7-6 as Boise State’s head coach.
Asked about making the move to bench Bachmeier in the second quarter of the first game of the season, Avalos said simply, “There were three turnovers early on in the game.”
Bachmeier was 4 of 8 for 30 yards and two interceptions and the lost fumble. Boise State had just 22 total yards on 17 plays with him in the game prior to Green entering early in the second quarter.
“The bottom line is you can’t turn the ball over like that – especially in those situations where we’re throwing into double coverage or overthrowing guys,” Avalos said.
“He just never got himself in a rhythm and there were some simple reads – we threw into double coverage on one of them on a shot play. We don’t make that throw. We don’t throw the ball just up like that. We overthrew in another situation and we were holding the ball too long in the pocket. When it a five man protection we can’t hold the ball that long in the pocket otherwise bad things are going to happen.
“I actually thought the o-line did a pretty good job protecting today and holding up there given some of the situations we were in. We could just never get ourselves in a rhythm early on. … Given the situation we were in with how many turnovers we had and the lack of offensive production we had to make an adjustment. To be able to put Taylen in there and for him to have his opportunity to run the offense and try to spark and get us going, it was a move we had to make.”
Avalos was non-committal about a starter for next week’s game at New Mexico.
“We’ll see as we go back and analyze the film and see where we’re at and see if we can continue to improve with Hank or find out what we need to do,” Avalos said. “But I know this. It’s a short week so we’re going to jump back at it. The competition starts tomorrow morning when the sun comes up.
“I’ll just say it it’s a competition. Guys gotta respond. Hank’s gotta respond. Hank has to be better. That’s the bottom line. H has to be better and that’s what we’re here to help him do.”
One positive? Boise State’s defense had three turnovers – interceptions from JL Skinner and Caleb Biggers and a forced fumble from Ezekiel Noa and a recovery from Biggers.
Boise State’s defense came up with the turnover on its first drive of the season when Noa forced a fumble on Oregon State’s Deshaun Fenwick and Biggers fell on it.
But the Broncos gave it right back when Bachmeier was intercepted on a deep pass intended for Stefan Cobbs. After a 3-and-out from Boise State’s defense, Bachmeier was intercepted again on the Broncos’ next possession after overthrowing an open Latrell Caples over the middle.
That’s when Oregon State’s offense went to work.
First, Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan found Luke Musgrave for a 27-yard-touchdown with 5:24 left in the first quarter. After a 3-and-out from Boise State’s offense, Nolan then found Tyjon Lindsey for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 left in the first quarter to put Oregon State up 14-0.
Boise State’s next possession then went like this: George Holani run for a loss of one, Holani run for a loss of three, Holani run for a loss of one and a punt.
On its first 15 plays, Boise State’s offense had just 31 total yards.
It didn’t get any better. Bachmeier was hit and fumbled the ball on Boise State’s next possession and Oregon State added a field goal to go up 17-0.
That’s when Boise State made the switch to Green, who trotted onto the field for Boise State’s next possession as Bachmeier donned a headset on the sidelines.
Boise State had 89 yards on 20 plays with Green under center to finish the first half compared to 22 yards on 17 plays for Bachmeier.
The Broncos were on the doorstop of scoring and cutting the deficit to 17-7 but freshman Ashton Jeanty fumbled at the 2-yard line and the Broncos came up empty.
Oregon State then went for the haymaker, using a 74-yard bomb as part of a 98-yard, four-play drive to go up 24-0 on a 12-yard run from Deshaun Fenwick with 3:11 left in the half.
The Broncos looked like they’d at least avoid the shutout in the first half – but in an almost fitting end – kicker Jonah Dalmas shanked a 32-yarder as time expired in the first half. Dalmas was 26 of 28 last year on field goals and made the most field goals of any kicker in the country.
A Caleb Biggers interception to start the third quarter led to a 42-yard attempt from Dalmas, who connected to put the Broncos on the board at 24-3 with 12:11 left in the third quarter.
Boise State stuck with Green in the second half and the redshirt freshman took advantage of the unexpected playing time.
Green scored on a 74-yard touchdown run, juking two defenders before cutting it to the outside, to pull the Broncos within 27-10 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
He then found freshman Ashton Jeanty for a 36-yard pass to get the Broncos down to the 4, and Green barreled his way into the end zone on a keep er on the next play to cut the Oregon State lead to 27-17 with 13:05 left to play.
But after a questionable pass interference call on third down extended an Oregon State drive, the Beavers put the game away with a 41-yard touchdown run from Jack Colletto with 10:39 left in the game.
Boise State is back on the road next week for a Friday night game at New Mexico. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m. MT and the game will air nationally on CBS Sports Network.