Boise State vs. Nevada: 10 Things We Learned in Broncos' Win

Martin Sondermann@@GamedayreporterAnalyst IIOctober 20, 2013

Boise State vs. Nevada: 10 Things We Learned in Broncos' Win

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    The Boise State Broncos (5-2, 3-1 MWC) had to erase a 10-point deficit to take the win at home on Saturday.

    On the first play from the line of scrimmage for the Boise State offense, starting quarterback Joe Southwick went down with a broken ankle.

    The Broncos looked to be in shock for most of the first half, but the team rebounded nicely after the half.

    It will be interesting to see how the team plays going forward. From the the way backup quarterback Grant Hedrick played tonight, it appears as if the Broncos are in good hands.

    Let's look at all of the interesting and eye opening things we learned from this game, and how it might determine the rest of the 2013 season for the Broncos.

Joe Southwick Is Important

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    When Joe Southwick went down with injury on his first play from scrimmage, the stadium went silent.

    After his departure the team seemed to be as shell-shocked as the crowd. The offense sputtered greatly for two quarters without the efficient play of Southwick.

    It was obvious to anyone watching the game that he is indeed a key part of this team.

    No word yet on how long he will be out, but no matter the time frame, this team will miss him.

Grant Hedrick Is a Solid Backup

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    Another obvious observation if you watched the game was that backup quarterback Grant Hedrick is solid.

    When he came into the game, at first the offense sputtered. However, over the course of the game you could see his confidence rising.

    One aspect of his game that had jaws dropping was his remarkable ability to fly down the field on foot.

    Several times during the game Hedrick made something happen running the ball. In fact, on the night he ran eight times for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

    Oh by the way, he also went 18-of-21 for 150 yards. His only mistake on the night was one interception, but it didn't hurt the Broncos.

    Going forward it is safe to say Boise State has a solid quarterback.

Jay Ajayi Is a Beast

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    Jay Ajayi had another great night. No, actually, he had an incredible night.

    Ajayi ran 24 times for 222 yards and three touchdowns.

    Perhaps his biggest moment was when the Broncos needed him the most. In the third quarter as the Broncos were trailing 17-13, Ajayi took the ball from Grant Hedrick and proceeded to run 71 yards for the go-ahead score.

    That gave Boise State the lead and they would never look back.

Jay Ajayi Seems to Have Solved His Fumble Problem

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    It has been said—OK, just by me—that if you say, "Pickle juice, pickle juice, pickle juice," Jay Ajayi appears in your bathroom mirror.

    However, the only place Boise State fans want to see Ajayi is in the end zone.

    After struggles early in the season with fumbles, the sophomore running back seems to have solved his issue.

    It could have been the pickle juice he has been known to drink on the sidelines to overcome dehydration, but whatever the case, fans have to be happy he is scoring and not fumbling these days.

Backup Derrick Thomas Is Looking Much Better

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    Jay Ajayi is playing great these days as the starting running back for Boise State.

    However, his backups have not looked so great. That is, until tonight.

    JUCO transfer Derrick Thomas came to Boise State with some high expectations. But, he hasn't yet delivered in results.

    Tonight against Nevada Thomas looked much, much better. On the night he ran for 48 yards on eight carries. He nearly broke one for a touchdown, but tripped before the goal line.

    Thomas also caught a pass out of the backfield for five yards.

    If Boise State wants to get to the MWC title game, Thomas and the other backups will need to step up, and it had to be nice for Broncos fans to see him doing so tonight.

The Broncos' Defense Gets Better and Better

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    The Boise State defense showed improvement once again. 

    In nearly every game of the season, this young defense has gotten better, and against Nevada was no exception.

    On the night Boise grounded a very powerful offense that averages over 30 points a game, and kept them to just 17.

    The Broncos had at least six sacks that I could count, and they kept a very mobile Nevada quarterback in check.

    In total, the Broncos held the Wolf Pack to just 373 yards of total offense, most of which came in the first half.

Demarcus Lawrence Is a Game Changer

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo is probably going to be having nightmares about defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.

    Lawrence chased, harassed, tackled, pummeled and pursued Fajardo all game long.

    Lawrence was truly a difference in this game, and he will need to do more of that in every game this season.

This Game Created Mystery

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    Before this game, Boise State fans and coaches were getting to know the 2013 Broncos.

    However, with the loss of Joe Southwick and emergence of Grant Hedrick, this team now has a bit of mystery surrounding it.

    Will Hedrick make this team better, worse or status quo?

    Will the defense keep elevating?

    Will the injury to Southwick bring the team together even more, or will it shake the confidence of this young team?

    These are all questions that will be answered in coming weeks, but something tells me the Broncos are going to be just fine.

The MWC Title Is Still in Reach

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    Even after losing starting quarterback Joe Southwick to injury, the Broncos are poised to make the MWC title game.

    However, they must face a pesky Colorado State team that keeps surprising people and a talented Wyoming squad that is sometimes incredible on offense.

    The Broncos must also face another triple-option offense when they host New Mexico the last game of the season.

    Not that BYU and San Diego State aren't important, but to make the MWC title game it is those three games Head Coach Chris Petersen and his team will have to win.

    If Grant Hedrick can play like he did tonight, and Jay Ajayi and the defense can do the same, the Broncos should be MWC-title-game bound.

The 2013 Boise State Team Has Heart and Showed It Tonight

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    This young Boise State squad is quietly becoming a team with big heart. 

    At the start of the season against Washington they were a bit wide-eyed and seemed small on a big stage. 

    However, right now this team is becoming much bigger on a shrinking platform. 

    As the season has progressed so have these Broncos. This is a team that plays with fire and passion, and right now, they are dangerous to opponents.