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No. 16 Boise State needs full effort at 1-3 UNLV

Field Level Media

October 01, 2019 at 1:19 pm.

Boise State’s strong start may look good to outsiders but coach Bryan Harsin isn’t always feeling so dandy.

Harsin is looking for an improved effort from every part of the roster when the No. 16 Broncos (4-0, 1-0) visit UNLV (1-3, 0-1) in Mountain West play on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Three of Boise State’s wins have been by 11 or fewer points, and the sixth-year coach detected some shortcomings during a 30-19 victory over Air Force that preceded last week’s bye.

“Some of the guys went through the motions, and we’re going to address that,” Harsin said. “Guys need to come in here and study, and older guys need to teach younger guys how to do that.

“For whatever reason, younger guys, they don’t think they have to watch and study film. They just think they can show up and go operate. And that’s not how it is. And then they stand on the sideline, and they want to play, and don’t understand why. Well, you don’t know what you’re doing. How are we going to put you out there if you don’t know what you’re doing?”

A well-oiled Boise State squad wouldn’t qualify as good news for the struggling Rebels.

UNLV has lost three straight games by an average of 26 points and was steamrolled 53-17 by Wyoming last Saturday.

The loss to the Cowboys was such a beatdown that speculation over the job status of fifth-year coach Tony Sanchez heated up. Sanchez has a 17-35 record and has won as many as five games (2017) just once.

“It’s our first conference game,” athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois told the Las Vegas Sun. “We’ve got a lot of football left to play. We’re going to keep supporting this football team.”

The Rebels also saw junior quarterback Armani Rogers and junior running back Charles Williams suffer knee injuries against the Cowboys.

Some of the concern dwindled on Tuesday afternoon when both players practiced, but redshirt freshman backup Kenyon Oblad will still get plenty of repetitions in case Rogers experiences a setback.

“We’re hoping that Armani is ready to go,” Sanchez told reporters. “If not, we’re ready to go with Kenyon.”

Rogers has passed for 393 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions in 79 pass attempts. Oblad has 305 yards, one touchdown and two picks in 45 attempts.

Williams has been superb with 472 yards and six touchdowns. He topped 140 rushing yards in each of the first three games before being limited to 17 yards on five rushes against Wyoming due to the injury.

The Broncos suffered a big blow on the defensive side when leading tackler Ezekiel Noa (28 tackles) was lost for the season in the Air Force game. Noa, a sophomore linebacker, tore an ACL and broke his wrist.

Junior pass rusher Curtis Weaver has six sacks for a defense that has held its past three opponents to an average of 12 points per game.

Boise State might have junior safety DeAndre Pierce and sophomore offensive right tackle John Ojukwu back against UNLV. Both starters suffered lower-leg injuries in the season opener against Florida State.

“Those two guys are tough dudes,” Harsin said. “I don’t think they’re pain-free by any means, but I know that they want to play.”

The Broncos have scored 30 or more points in three of their four games. True freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier had passed for 1,190 yards and six touchdowns while being intercepted three times.

Boise State has won the past five meetings and holds a 7-3 edge in the series. All three of UNLV’s wins came during the 1970s when the Broncos were part of the I-AA ranks.