5 Keys to the game Boise State vs Ole Miss
1.) If you have been reading any of the preseason publications then one name is repeated when Boise State is talked about. That name is Jay Ajayi, and for all the right reasons. Jay is perhaps the most physically gifted RB to have ever played for Boise State. He has the size and speed of an “SEC” tailback. And that size and speed will be needed against Ole Miss. With Jay, I fully expect Boise State to get back to the “run the ball first” mentality. Now Jay Ajayi doesn’t have to go all Ian Johnson vs Oregon State on Ole Miss for us to win (though that would be great). He does though need to keep the defense honest. 20+ carries for 80 yards and a touchdown would be a great start to the season. If Jay can have a steady game like that Boise State should be able to compete from start to finish.
2.) Grant Hedrick has to be more than just a serviceable QB. Last season Grant had solid numbers and managed the game. This year, he has to take a major step and be a play maker. Grant has the athleticism and the talent to be a star his senior year. His first step to doing that would be getting a huge win against Ole Miss. For this to happen, Grant has to make plays on 3rd down passing situations. It is easy to make the check down pass and punt. But as we have seen in the past, it takes a QB who can make the throw down the field in those situations to win the early tests to start the season. If Grant can start this season off converting on 3rd down, Boise State will win this game.
3.) Can we start fast might be the most important key/question of them all. I feel like this game, if nothing else gives us a strong advantage to start fast. We know Ole Miss has no idea what we are bringing to the table. Because of this we should have the opportunity to score some points and build momentum in our favor early. If this happens, I fully expect Ole Miss to fight back into the game. But putting the Rebels up against the wall early could go a long way for the Broncos on their way to a win.
4.) Boise State has to get pressure on the QB. If this does not happen, I can’t stress enough how ugly this game could get. I believe Yates will bring pressure with blitzes, specifically, I expect to see some corner-blitzes. But the pressure that is more important here is coming from the defensive line. With Demarcus Lawrence gone to the NFL the question is going to be who is our new premier pass-rusher? The first game of the season would not be a bad time for somebody to step into that role. If Boise State can get pressure on Wallace, it will go a long way in helping our secondary deal with threats like Laquon Treadwell.
5.) Here I am going with the X-factor, SWR, Shane Williams-Rhodes. Nobody on Boise State, or perhaps college football has a skill-set quite like SWR. Yes he is small, but he is also impossible to prepare for. The best part about this prediction, is Bryan Harsin loves to have unique weapons like Rhodes. I imagine we will see Rhodes in some fly-sweep situations, some slot-routes, and maybe even some old school Vinny Peretta like run/pass option stuff. Rhodes might not make or break this game, but he has to play a vital role for the Broncos to win. I said it last year plenty, Rhodes wasn’t used to his full skill-set. This year with Harsin back in town, I have no doubt Rhodes will be put into positions to make plays.
If you follow me on Twitter you might have already seen me call my shot on this. But my prediction is on what we can expect to see from our offense. Now, I could be completely wrong on this, and I admit it is 100% a somewhat educated guess. But based on what we have heard, and seen in bits and pieces. I am starting to think the offense we see vs Ole Miss resembles what we saw against Georgia in 2011, a lot. We will see shifts, and motions, pistol reads, and power formations. However, we will also see a hybrid no-huddle/huddle offense. When the momentum is on our side, I can see us rushing to the line and calling plays. When the game needs to be slowed down and talked about, I can see us huddling. Staying unpredictable and dictating the way the game is played seems to fit this staff well.