ALBUQUERQUE, NM. – Tyreque Jones didn’t want to wait until Friday. Many of his teammates agreed.
So eager to move on from a disappointing 34-17 loss at Oregon State in the season opener last season, Jones said earlier this week he was ready to play New Mexico right then and there.
“If we could play right now we would,” Jones said. “We’re just hungry to get back on the field. I feel like it’s huge for us to be able to get another opportunity to really show who we are.”
The excitement and optimism for the 2022 season quickly turned to frustration and disappointment for many fans last Saturday as the Broncos mostly no-showed on national television.
Three early turnovers from quarterback Hank Bachmeier led to him getting benched as the Broncos got off to an unwanted and frankly unexpected start to the season.
And the poor start has the Broncos fired up for another chance heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. tilt at New Mexico on CBS Sports Network.
“It definitely leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” EDGE rusher Demitri Washington said. “We have something to prove and want to get that bad taste out of our mouthes as fast as we can.”
The big story was Bachmeier getting benched, Green going in and what the Broncos will do at quarterback moving forward. But there were plenty of other issues for the Broncos that need to be fixed against New Mexico. Among them…
-A revamped offensive line entered the season with a ton of praise and optimism but struggled against the Beavers, leading to George Holani and Ashton Jeanty combining for just 25 rushing yards on 17 carries. Starting right guard Ben Dooley was out, which likely contributed to some of the issues, but center Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez had some issues in his first game in nearly two years.
“We struggled a little bit on the interior of our offensive line,” coach Andy Avalos admitted this week. “Where we grow forward from that? I’m very, very confident not only in him but our offensive line as as a whole.”
It won’t matter who is at quarterback for the Broncos Friday night if they can’t get a better performance from the offensive line and more yards on the ground from Holani and Jeanty. Seven of Holani’s 13 carries went for zero or negative yardage. That can’t happen again.
-Defensively the Broncos got very little pressure on Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan. The Broncos had just three quarterback hits and no sacks, which is well below their goal of 10 quarterback hits and three sacks. That contributed to several long passing plays for the Beavers.
“That’s not even kind of the standard for us,” defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson said. “We’ve got to be better. … Our goal is three sacks and 10 quarterback hits and if you do that, the stats will show you’ll win almost every game you play in. We need to find ways to get to the quarterback.”
Getting pressure on the quarterback won’t be as big of a factor in Friday’s game against New Mexico since the Lobos run the triple option.
-Special teams will need to be better on Friday. Kicker Jonah Dalmas, who missed two field goals all of last season, missed two in last week’s loss to Oregon State. And freshman punter James Ferguson-Reynolds, who we heard a ton about all fall, averaged just 37.4 yards on five punts and didn’t help in the field position battle.
Dalmas led the nation in field goals last season but missed two within 40 yards against the Beavers.
“I don’t know what was going on with him,” co-specials teams coach Kelly Poppinga said of Dalmas. “It was uncharacteristic of him. … There was something off there that made him not be himself.”
On Ferguson-Reynolds, Poppinga said, “That’s not the standard, what he did in the game and he knows that. He was rushed in the game. … He was very rushed in his process of getting the ball out there, he had one that was 41 net but what he did in the game was not the standard and something we’ve coached hard this week.”
The Broncos have areas to improve on offense, defense and special teams – and will need to make significant improvements if they want to avoid starting the season 0-2.
Boise State has a lot to prove Friday night – and players seem focused, motivated and energized this week. That could be bad news for the Lobos.
“That’s the best thing about a short weeks especially after that (result) because we get right back in the saddle,” left tackle and captain John Ojukwu said. “We’ll play our hardest and play the way we know how to play.”