‘My heart hurts.’ Eager to rebound against UCF, Boise State defense works on Labor Day

Boise State cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho and safety Seyi Oladipo bring down Washington wide receiver Jalen McMillan after a long gain earlier this season at Husky Stadium in Seattle. The Huskies’ high-powered passing game was too much for the Broncos.

Although it was their day off, members of the Boise State defense were at the Bleymaier Football Center on Monday studying film on UCF, the Broncos’ next opponent.

After giving up 56 points, 568 total yards and 19 explosive plays in a loss at No. 10 Washington last Saturday, the Broncos have been deep in self-assessment. That includes the coaching staff.

“The result that came Saturday afternoon, I take full responsibility for it,” Boise State defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson said during Monday’s news conference. “... I obviously didn’t do a good enough job from a big-picture standpoint putting them in the best possible situation to be successful, and it showed up on a big stage.

“So I feel bad about it. My heart hurts, but I also am excited to get it fixed.”

While players from the secondary graciously shouldered a lot of the blame for the show UW quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and his receivers put on, coach Andy Avalos said that wasn’t a fair assessment.

“When it comes to defense, everything works together,” Avalos said. “It’s not just a matter of coverage, but you’ve gotta disrupt the timing in the passing game, and really there in the second quarter, we needed to do a better job with that. We obviously gave up too many explosive plays, which involves getting pressure on the quarterback, and maintaining and leveraging formations and routes is a huge part of that as well.

“From this first opportunity we’re gonna be able to learn and grow from it. We’ve had very successful defenses here, and this defense will grow into a defense that is very competitive.”

The Broncos recognize that growth will have to happen quickly with their home opener against UCF set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium. UCF is coming off a 56-6 win over Kent State in which the Knights put up 723 total yards in a balanced effort that included 334 through the air and 389 on the ground.

“UCF coach Gus (Malzahn) has done a great job of putting together this package within his offense, and he’s been very successful everywhere he’s been,” Avalos said. “(Offensive coordinator Darin) Hinshaw has done a really good job. ... They’re clicking on all cylinders.”

What’s with all the slipping?

Fans who watched Boise State’s game at Washington might have noticed the Broncos losing their footing from time to time.

Avalos said the team has worn those same Nike cleats plenty of times before, including during fall camp.

“It’s not like the olden days where you can unscrew (the spikes),” Avalos said. “That’s years and years ago. Nike makes one pair of cleats now and the bottoms are pretty consistent for what it is for that playing surface.”

Avalos said he saw players slipping in all three phases of the game.

“We’re working to make sure we’re not in that situation again,” Avalos said. “... Whether it was on kickoff coverage, whether it was blitzers rushing near the quarterback and turning the edge, our feet were sliding out from underneath us.”

UCF AT BOISE STATE

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise

TV: FS1 (Eric Collins, Devin Gardner)

Radio: KBOI 670 AM/93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

Records: Boise State 0-1; UCF 1-0

Series: UCF won the only meeting between these two teams 36-31 in 2021 in Orlando, Florida

Vegas line: UCF by 3.5

Weather: High of 87 degrees, 0% chance of rain, 8 mph winds