Max Bullough believes the worst is behind them.
The junior linebacker was referring to the Boise State offense, which he and the rest of the Spartan defense was successful in shutting down in Friday nightâ€™s 17-13 victory.
â€œItâ€™s hard,â€ he says of preparing to defend a team like the Broncos.Â â€œThey have a lot of movements, a lot of motions, a lot of stuff.Â Teams that do well against them look at the last formations they came out in and try to adjust based on that.
â€œThey did a lot of trick plays, which we didnâ€™t focus much on in film, but a lot of what they did we had seen before.â€Â He said the most difficult adjustment was figuring out how to communicate through the noise level of the fans at Spartan Stadium.
â€œThere were some communication issues we need to work on,â€ Bullough said after the game.Â â€œIt was loud out there, which we werenâ€™t really used to.
We arenâ€™t where we want to be, but weâ€™re on the right track.â€
The chemistry between the offense and defense, which multiple players cited after the game, was a major benefit during a game in which the
offense struggled at times.
â€œI had confidence even in Maxwell. He threw a couple unfortunate interceptions, but they werenâ€™t really his fault, some tipped passes. Â I thought our offensive line played well, too.
â€œDion Sims too is a big, unbelievable athlete.Â I donâ€™t think the fans have seen how good he really is.
â€œThe first gameâ€™s always hard, especially with our running offense, but I had confidence in them the whole time.â€
The confidence held up even when the offense fell victim to four turnovers.
â€œ(Usually) turnovers win games,â€ Bullough said, â€œand (winning despite having more turnovers) isnâ€™t going to happen every week.Â If that situation arises, the key to being a great defense is reacting to situations.Â Â Theyâ€™re suddenly in the red zone â€“ how are we going to react?
â€œI wouldnâ€™t say itâ€™s hectic, Iâ€™d say challenging.â€Â Regardless of how the offense performs, Bullough says, the defense needs to be prepared for anything.
â€œWe take it upon ourselves to be the best we can be,â€ he said, â€œno matter if we have Kirk Cousins and Javon Ringer, or (Andrew) Maxwell and (Leâ€™Veon) Bell.Â We know we have an offense which is extremely explosive and can hold its own, so we just need to take care of our part of it.Â For us, itâ€™s a
focus to stop the run.Â Thatâ€™s how you win games.â€
When asked about fellow standout defensemen Will Gholston and Johnny Adams, both of whom had quiet games on Friday, Bullough says the sky is
â€œ(And because of that) their expectations are that or higher, so if they donâ€™t perform as well as theyâ€™d like, theyâ€™ll work hard and be better next week.Â Someone has to step up week in, week out.Â Youâ€™ll be seeing those guys names in the headlines soon enough.â€
As for the rest of the season, Bullough believes the Spartans will benefit long term as a result of opening against the Broncos.
â€œItâ€™s a privilege and opportunity to play a team like that â€“I donâ€™t think other teams do as much as they do in terms of motions and trick plays.
â€œI think weâ€™re past the worst.â€