PROVO — While BYU is suffering through a painful season, Boise State can relate.
A little less than two weeks ago, Virginia, led by former Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall, whipped the Broncos 42-23 — BSU’s most lopsided home loss in 16 years.
After the setback, coach Bryan Harsin vowed there would be changes as his team entered its bye week.
Now, the Broncos (2-2) visit the Cougars (1-4), who have lost four straight games, Friday (8:15 p.m., MDT, ESPN).
What is the mindset of Boise State’s players this week?
“The mood following the (Virginia) game was obviously not what you wanted. But at this point, those things are behind us,” Harsin said. “Now it’s just about taking what we’ve learned and applying it. As far as their mindset, they’re looking forward to playing. They want to get back on the football field.
"We have a lot of respect for BYU. We’ll be on the road for the second time this year and ready to play a good football team," he continued. "Players are a lot more resilient than fans and coaches. They bounce back and get ready to go because they’ve got to compete. They’ve done a good job of it.”
As for the changes Harsin talked about?
“Really, tweaks,” he said. “There’s not massive overhauls in a lot of things right now.”
Among the issues plaguing Boise State? The Bronco offense has scored 13 touchdowns in its first four games (BYU has scored only six offensive TDs in five games).
Quarterbacks Brett Rypien, who has dealt with injuries, and Montell Cozart have been sharing snaps as the offense has tried to find a rhythm. The Broncos’ top playmaker is wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who has caught 29 passes for 485 yards and three touchdowns.
“Opportunities missed. Inconsistency,” Harsin said of the offense’s woes. “We’ve dealt with our own quarterback injuries at times. Not the type of production we want to have and are capable of having. Inconsistency is probably the best way to describe it.”
“They’re coming off a bye so they can prepare for us with an extra week. We have some good film on them, too," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. "Rypien’s a good quarterback. He can spread the ball around quite a bit. We need to have a good game plan. We did well against him last year.”
The Cougars are familiar with Boise State’s penchant for springing gadget plays.
“We’ve got to be ready for the long bombs that they throw and the trick plays,” said BYU defensive lineman Sione Takitaki. “Boise State is known for their trick plays. We’ve got to be ready for it all.”
“They’re always pulling stuff out,” said safety Zayne Anderson. “We’ll see what they give us. They’ve got some good receivers and a quarterback who can throw the ball. They’re going to take some shots so we’ve got to be ready for it.”
Despite Boise State’s struggles, the Broncos opened the season with a 24-13 victory over Troy, which upset Louisiana State in Baton Rouge last week. LSU crushed BYU, 27-0.
Boise State built a 21-point lead on Washington State (currently undefeated and ranked No. 11) before falling 47-44 in triple overtime.
Following a bye and with time to regroup, Harsin is hopeful that his team can return to winning Friday.
“(The bye) was good. It came at a good time,” he said. “I felt that way before the season, too. I felt it would be a good time for us with the schedule that we’d play through four games. It allows our guys to get back and get some work done and focus on things we need to get better at. We’re getting a couple of guys back healthy.”
The home team has won every game between BYU and Boise State in the first five contests of a 12-game series that started in 2012.
Harsin’s explanation?Comment on this story
“Other than the obvious of playing at home, I don’t know. It really comes down to that. The game itself is important to a lot of people,” he said. “Regardless of where it’s being played or what day it’s being played or what time it’s being played, I don’t think that matters.
"There’s a great following for Boise State and BYU. The energy is felt by the home team. Other than that, there’s nothing that’s stood out other than the home-field advantage and the environment you’re playing in.”
Cougars on the air
Boise State (2-2)
at BYU (1-4)
Friday, 8:15 p.m. MDT LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM