We are less than 48 hours from kickoff! Boise State at UCF, it’s football time!
For this article it will be an overview, with an even more in-depth overview via the following podcast. Let’s get started.
Three Keys for a First Game, for Either Team
Don’t be that guy. That’s right. Don’t be that guy. The player that makes the colossal mental error and botches an otherwise basic play. It happens all season long, but especially during an opening game.
Who’s it going to be? Here are the three examples that came to mind.
- Defensive Touchdown - Which team has an offensive player that runs the wrong way to make a block and subsequently allows a defender to come barrelling into the backfield, create a fumble, then scoop and score?
- Special Teams Disaster - Which team has a bad punt, a long snapper that shoots the football over the punter’s head, or even a kickoff that is a line drive allowing the kick returner to have a running head start and take a kickoff for a touchdown?
- Who gives up an easy long pass because of a busted assignment or a defensive back was staring in the backfield while in man coverage?
Those are three of the disasters that seemingly happen every year during an opening game. Which team, Boise State or UCF, makes at least one of the above errors? It could cost that team the game.
Quarterback Play Will Be Dictated by the Running Game
Boise State and UCF will look to establish the running game. Which team actually does it, as well as utilize that running attack to set up play-action passing?
With Hank Bachmeier and Dillon Gabriel taking the controls for Boise State and UCF respectively, both squads possess quarterbacks that return for a third season as a starter. Experience is great, but it’s even more valuable when opposing defenses have to commit more bodies to the line of scrimmage to stop the running game.
The team that establishes the running game first holds a solid advantage because the rushing attack opens up more chances for the speed at wide receiver to make plays. Adding the opportunity to use play-action means more deep shots, as well as possibly some crossing routes, to those speedy receivers and probably more wide open receivers.
Know Each Wide Receiver, Play Your Keys, Do Your Job
Both the Broncos and Knights possess a star receiver with Khalil Shakir for the Broncos and Jaylon Robinson for the Knights. If each receiver receives double coverage, however, that means the opportunity for a playmaker like Boise State’s Stefan Cobbs or UCF’s Ryan O’Keefe to get deep down the field. There are other talented wide receivers for both teams, so do not just assume Shakir and Robinson will steal the show.
As for the defensive backs, they need to understand their assignments, understand personnel, as well as keep track of the down and distance. The team that wins will likely make the fewer number of mistakes. Giving up a busted play touchdown (see above) could be the difference.
Boise State Defensive Players to Watch
Since UCF fans know their own roster much more than the opponent, here are three players to keep an eye on when the Knights have the football.
Scale Igiehon - #90
This 290-pound interior defensive lineman plays nose tackle, arguably the most brutal position on a football field because there’s a good chance of being frequently double teamed. Igiehon possesses the size and length to be successful at the position. He’s started games in each of his three prior seasons for the Broncos.
If he’s not successful versus UCF’s interior offensive line, the Broncos will struggle to operate their 3-4 defensive scheme. The nose tackle is very important to that defense. Monitor the nose tackle, and he will likely give an indication of how good or bad UCF’s interior offensive line is playing.
Isaiah Bagnaw - #30
Bagnaw plays the standup outside edge rusher position, called “STUD” in the Boise State scheme. He’s more or less the designated pass rusher. He’s fairly inexperienced, but it’s a key spot. The redshirt sophomore will be thrusted into a vital role. If he’s capable of consistently applying pressure to Gabriel, it will hinder the Knights chances of moving the football.
If he’s handled well by UCF, that means more blitzes will likely be coming from Boise State.
That also means more deep passes from Gabriel. Keep that in mind.
Shane Irwin - #55
After registering six sacks in a mere seven games last season, the defensive end deserved to be mentioned as one of the stalwarts for the Broncos. He’s playing defensive end in the 3-4. His hand will be in the dirt in a three-point stance, but he’s active and athletic enough to think of him as an outside linebacker. Irwin could see some double teams, as well be chipped by UCF tight ends as they leave the line of scrimmage.
Again, to learn more about the game, see the link for the podcast or watch the YouTube video. Both will provide in-depth information. As for the game, it’s going to be a really good contest. There are several playmakers for both teams to monitor.
On Thursday, the game prediction for Boise State at UCF will be revealed.