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Plough, Plough, Plough...

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After reading a OBNUG article about our much maligned offense, which included this nugget ("the oft-maligned Robert Prince offenses of ’12 and ’13 scored 50 TDs and 63 TDs, respectively. In 2021, the Broncos scored 39"), I felt inspired to do a deep-dive on our offense under Tim see if things are really as bad as they seem.

Spoiler alert...we're on pace for 32 offensive touchdowns this year 😬

Here are the fun things I've learned about Plough's 15-game run. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether you think he should be 86'd.

Boise State is averaging 29 points per game since Plough came to town, and although that sounds...mediocre...and not befitting a Boise State squad...somehow it's even worse than it seems. During his time as OC, the offense is averaging just under 21 points per game. That's right...if you subtract field goals, special teams scores, and defensive touchdowns...the offense has averaged less than 3 touchdowns per game under Plough.

Plough famously "doesn't look at the scoreboard until it reads half-a-hundred." I guess he won't have to take a trip to the chiropractor anytime soon, because we've only topped the 50-point mark once under his watch, in last year's 54-13 drubbing of UTEP, who...(checks notes) 2-7 in their last 9 games. To make matters more depressing, we've only cracked 40 twice.

In Plough's 15 games in charge of the offense, the team has scored exactly TWO offensive TDs on seven occasions. Unsurprisingly, we're 3-4 in those games. We've only scored 4+ touchdowns four times, and 5 only the once (UTEP...again).

Plough's offense has averaged only 21.1 first downs per game. That's not terrible (Texas A&M and NC State averaged less last year), but it's not great either. In Boise's'll notice a pretty direct link from first downs to losses. Six losses in the Avalos-Plough era...and 4 of them saw us fail to hit the 20-first down mark. Things aren't going much better this year, with a 17.3 average through the first three games.

Plough's offense has averaged 369.9 yards per game. That's almost 200 yards per game fewer than Ohio State over the same time frame. Or 100 yards per game fewer than Fresno State and 62 fewer than Air Force. In fact, we rank 7th in the MWC since the beginning of last year in yards per game, ahead of only Wyoming, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, and New Mexico. The magical 500-yard mark, topped with semi-regularity during the Petersen-Moore era...hasn't been touched by Plough's offense. The best we've been able to muster has been 470 (against Fresno last year). That same Fresno squad...has topped 470 in both games this year.

Whether you want to call this a Plough problem or a Bachmeier blunder...our quarterbacks have averaged just 245.7 yards passing per game. Prior to tonight's game, we had the 20th worst passing game in the FBS. After tonight, we're 24th worst (small victories). Last year, we ranked a respectable 37th (from the top), although that was buoyed by a strong start from our QBs, who averaged 304 yards per game the first 5 games. From the BYU game on, we mustered a paltry 230 yards per game.

Our running backs...dear God. Our backs have averaged 124.2 rushing yards per game under Plough's supervision. We do have a nice stretch going (if you wanna call it that), topping 100 yards in 7-of-8 games now, but somehow...somehow we've averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry in 5 of Plough's 15 games, less than 3.5 yards per carry in 8, and less than 4.0 yards per carry in all but TWO games! For reference, our run game also sucked in 2020, but we still managed to average more than 4.0 YPC twice in seven games that season. In this arena, at least, things seem to be moving in a positive direction. We finished last season with the 36th worst rushing attack in college football. This year we're only 40th worst.

Railroader, Broncosontheblue and UtahBronco have reacted to this post.

Great analysis Zach.

Thomas Camara and Zachary Ball have reacted to this post.
Thomas CamaraZachary Ball

I am not a Plough defender by any means and I am not a defend of Bachmier.  However, I am wondering what BroncoFans want.  The majority of Plough's offense last year was the RPO; like he watch Robert Prince's offense on tape and though BSU wanted that system.  And yes, that system is the best way to get a team to "half a hundred" against bad defenses.  But this year, Plough seems to have watch OC Bryan Harsin's tape when Kellen was king, at least for the New Mexico and Martin games. (I don't know what offense we were running for the OSU game)

So, now the team is huddling and the TEs are shifting.  Bachmier completed 72%.  George ran for 117 yards. The passes went to eight different receivers meaning Bachmier was mixing it up.  This is the Bryan Harsin offense under Chris Peterson... except the scoring.

So what is missing? The high scoring games.  That half a hundred promise.  And more consistency, especially against a FCS team.  That's what I want and we are not that far from it. Had the team converted the three field goals to TDs, then BSU wins 42-7.  Of course that's what we expect.  We expect an offense that gets BSU ranked.  We expect this each week and rightly so.

The worst thing is the lack of production against a lowly FCS team.  UT Martin, where in the hell is UT Martin?  Well last year they were in the FCS Playoffs, but were knocked off by Montana St.  The team they lost to last week by five points (away game for UT Martin) just gave #10 Arkansas a big scare through three quarters.  But really these are excuses and BSU should have won by 50.

We certainly didn't have a close FCS game during the Kellen years (as if winning by 23 is close).  Actually, we did.  In BSU's 14-0 year, we had a closer game right here on the Blue.  US Davis came to town as 34 point underdogs and had the ball down by 11 mid-way through the 4th.  With 40 second left in the game Doug Martin scores to make it 34-16.  That is an 18 point win over an FCS team that had no chance of being ranked in the FCS level that year.

How does this happen?  How did that happen?  How did Arkansas almost lose to an FCS team?  How did Notre Dame lose to Marshall (I know, not an FCS team but in ND mind they are)?  I picked BSU would win by 21 because I knew the Martin team was better than most of us expected.  Plus this is their chance to win a big time game against the top G5 team over the years.  That is motivation.

I know you will say that due to this comparison, I must think this team is equal to the 2009 team.  The answer is a resounding NO.  Having said that, I have to say that the D is pretty close from what I have seen the last two games.

So I said that BSU is running a KM offense, Bachmier is 72%, Holani gets 117 yards.  Why is this offense struggling?  Well the Oline is not helping much.  BJ and Prater were saying with HG-K in at center and the addition of Beresford, this line was going to be a big improvement over last year's.  I would say it is better, but not "big" and it seems the players read or heard what Prater was saying (very dangerous).  Also, Hank took the play clock down to 1 or 2 seconds nearly every play.  If you expect to score more, the snap needs to happen earlier in the play clock.

So is this Plough or Hank?  Probably both.  Plough needs to have the play in to the signal crew within 5 seconds.  The crew needs to give Hank the signals and the huddle complete in 10 seconds.  This gives Hank 25 seconds to look at the D, make audibles and snap the ball.  If the called play is fine, snap the damn ball.  Also if the team is going to huddle most of the time, fine.  But run a no-huddle on situations that keeps the D guessing.

Back to the original point, what do we want?  For me, I want the KM-Harsin (OC) offense.  But I want better execution and some change up calls.  This is a senior laden offense and these guys can block better, pass better and run routes better.  Plough can call the plays and get them into the huddle faster.  I know it is early in the season, but most of this should have been worked out in the training camp, not on week 4.  I think we can get better.   Hopefully before the end of the season.

ColterRey and Zachary Ball have reacted to this post.
ColterReyZachary Ball

I want Pete's Poison back again.  The high-flying 500 yard plus, 50 point offense too.  That is what made Boise famous, the trick plays, fast up-tempo offense, no mercy until the 4th quarter.  We had the personnel on both offense and defense, especially the the D and O-Lines to pull this off.  We  do not have that on the offensive side but close on the defensive side.  Plough doesn't have the right folks to do the job, nor coaches.  Especially Plough.  Hank is not Kellen. Period.  Pete's Poison requires a fast thinking QB who is smart and can make rapid and accurate decisions.  Hank. Is. Not. It.  Greene is probably not it too, but at least he can react faster.

The other point all of us are making - a slow and plodding offensive game pace.  It looks like Plough can't decide what to do and makes things up as he goes along.  That can be fine in an up-tempo offense with a QB like Kellen.  Right now our game calling is so predictable and boring that the opposing defense is just waiting for us, they know what we will do.  Mostly run up the gut and short passes.  Plough needs to speed up the play calling, Hank needs to vary the snap-counts, we need motions from the WR/RB's, and quick decisions from the QB. Go Broncos!

Zachary Ball has reacted to this post.
Zachary Ball

That would be nice to get Pete's coaches and players back.  However we are 11 years in the future.  We ain't going to lure Pete out of retirement and we won't have a QB like Kellen again.

I am merely pointing out that the offense looks more like Bronco football than it has in a few years (even back to Harsin's systems).  Hank is better than the fans give him credit and the RBs are getting yards.  So fans saying he is running the Prince style RPO offense are not paying attention.

Can BSU fans live with wins, as frustrating as they might be to watch, or are we going to demand a different OC that might not be any better than the one we got?  For me, I will watch the next 3-4 games and get back to you.

BroncoChief, ColterRey and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
BroncoChiefColterReyZachary BallUtahBronco
Quote from BSUBass77 on September 18, 2022, 9:33 am

I am not a Plough defender by any means and I am not a defend of Bachmier.  However, I am wondering what BroncoFans want.  The majority of Plough's offense last year was the RPO; like he watch Robert Prince's offense on tape and though BSU wanted that system.  And yes, that system is the best way to get a team to "half a hundred" against bad defenses.  But this year, Plough seems to have watch OC Bryan Harsin's tape when Kellen was king, at least for the New Mexico and Martin games. (I don't know what offense we were running for the OSU game)

Yeah, I think "what I want" is actually two things. First, just some good execution of the plays in the playbook. And second, better in-game adjustments from the coaching staff.

There's ZERO doubt that the o-line hasn't played up to its potential, and yes we've been hit by some key injuries and general lack of depth. Where I put some of the blame on Plough is his inability to tailor the offense to things that might make life easier on the o-line (and Hank). This might not be the case, but it sure seems like he's trying to run HIS offense, oblivious to the fact that the o-line is as leaky as a sieve. If they can't give Hank more than 2 seconds to go through his progressions...then Hank needs some plays that don't rely on him having more than 2 seconds to go through his progressions.

UtahBronco has reacted to this post.

No big plays.

Nationally this offense ranks 127 (out of 131) in number of plays >10 yards. Boise State has only crossed 10 yards on 25 plays this season.   National average is 44 such plays.  National leader has 76.


Zachary Ball has reacted to this post.
Zachary Ball

I found this interesting tidbit on the BTB, at least 3 active threads on Boise's offensive woes and Plough.  And, if you followed the interview BJ did with Plough he basically just wants to run the ball and take time off the clock.  Guess he doesn't have the personnel run his offense.  It is apparent that Plough knows nothing about Boise's history and our brand.  We got our brand not only from the blue turf but by curb stomping every team that came to Bronco Stadium, even on the road.  We became ESPN darlings and got all that publicity with video game offensive numbers.  Our rankings, big bowls, TV viewership came from folks who wanted to watch that team on the Smurf Turf blow teams out game after game.  The big TV contracts, big by G6 standards, were because of our team curb stomping everybody. We even completed with Oregon for who scored the most against their opponents.  Koetter, Hawk, and Pete didn't show mercy, they kept the foot down on the pedal and coached uptempo, high scoring offenses.  Our slow, plodding offense will not help Dickey with his fundraising  for the Athletic Dept or the Village.



I'm all for replacing Plough.................BUT.............the question is who is there to replace him?  Seriously - who are you who are calling for this suggesting as a replacement?  Dirk Koetter?  Not going to happen.  Mike Sanford, Jr.?  He's currently the O-coordinator at PAC 12 Colorado.  They are off to an embarrassing 0-3 start this season thanks to an offense that seems incapable of scoring points (they have scored a TOTAL of 30 points in their first three games - 13, 10 & 7 points).

I think the major obstacle in all this is the lack of funds for assistant football coaches.  I think this is the reason why Avalos hired a lot of his coaches from non-D-1 programs, i.e., he didn't have the funds available to him to go out and get top level or even above average coaches from D-1 programs.

Here is a list of all of the assistant coaches on Avalos' staff who came to Boise State from non-D-1 programs:

Plough - U.C. Davis

Ioane - Montana State

Keane - U.C. Davis

Potter - Montana State

Warren - Southern Utah

Personally I think the # 1 coach who absolutely MUST be replaced is the O-line coach (Keane).  And when he is replaced my money - as far as his replacement - would be on someone who is already on the Boise State coaching staff.

Regardless I don't think Boise State has EVER replaced any assistant coach during a season.  It's just not right to do that IMO.  And I don't think it's realistically feasible as well.   Whatever coaching changes that are GOING to be made they will almost certainly have to wait until AFTER the regular season is concluded.  And that's quite a ways off at this point.

BroncoChief and Zachary Ball have reacted to this post.
BroncoChiefZachary Ball

I agree, replacing a coach during the season is not likely, but is not improbable.  The issue of course is who to plug into the holes.  So, let's play what if....

Supposed the offense continues to be poor and the fans/boosters bend Dickey's ears and he pulls the plug on the Plough/Keane show mid-season.  And yes, Keane is responsible for the O-line debacle.  This would also mean the season is lost and its time to cut our losses early so we don't lose recruits.  Who would we chose?

  1. Put Nate Potter in as a interim OC.  He is a Bronco, knows how to win, been part of of the winning tradition at Boise, and is familiar with the Harsin offense (the OC Harsin), as far as Head Coach Harsin scored a lot of points in the first half before starting his prevent offense in the second half. Nate currently coaches the WR's.  Nate would be tutored by Koetter and become a much better coach learning from a great coach.  Nate would be interim until AA finds a D-1 OC and stay on the staff to continue learning.
  2. Ryan Dinwiddlie would be a great choice as OC.  He currently coaches a Canadian Football League team and probably jump at the chance to return.  We would need super money to bring Kellen back into this job, doubt we have those funds now.
  3. Replace Keane with Matt Paradis, Ryan Clady, or Matt McClelland for the O-Line. All are Broncos, standout O-Line players, NFL players.   This could be a permanent hire.
  4.  Get a QB coach who actually played the game!  No, Kellen will not come back to be a QB coach.  Southwick would not qualify either.  Hendricks, Zabransky, Tharp....
  5. Dickey needs to hit the rich boosters for more money for the coaching staff.  AA's budget is just 2.1 million dollars for 10 coaches.  UCF for example has something like $3.1 million for staff before heading to the Big 12.  You are not going to buy much for $2.1 million.

This is just a what if...  Most likely we will wait until the end of the season but I highly expect the Plough/Keane show will end if they do not measurably improve.  Then during  off-season we just go and get the coaches we need, provided more money becomes available.  Go Broncos!

Zachary Ball has reacted to this post.
Zachary Ball
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