USA TODAY Sports
The numbers that mattered from Boise State's third consecutive Las Vegas Bowl victory.
279. Yards gained in 36 touches by Washington running back Bishop Sankey. Sankey was easily the star of the game, just like he was the star of the second half of Washington's season. Plays involving Sankey averaged 7.8 yards per play; Washington's other 41 plays averaged just 4.1. Sankey was able to avoid disaster when the blocking broke down (Boise State had just four tackles for loss for the game, and all were sacks; none came against the Washington run), and he was able to take full advantage when the blocking held up. And late in the first half, he took a throwback screen 42 yards on third-and-6; it set up a momentum-turning touchdown.
Washington was a little overrated at the start of the 2012 season, primarily because of quarterback Keith Price's late-season performance last year. In a strange twist, Price's 2012 struggles (see below) will probably assure that Washington isn't taken too seriously heading into 2013 ... but Sankey and an experienced offensive line (and a defense that turned around dramatically in defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox's first season) could actually make the Huskies more deserving of hype than they were this fall. Funny how that works.
95. Completion percentage on passes to Boise State receivers Chris Potter, Matt Miller and Geraldo Boldewijn. For the game, Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick was 26-for-38 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. That adds up to 20-for-21 on passes to these three and 6-for-18 to everybody else. The Boise State run game was only marginally effective -- backs D.J. Harper and Jay Ajayi combined to carry 20 times for just 79 yards -- but in catching nine of nine passes for 55 yards, Potter gave Boise an extension of the run game (he also threw a 34-yard touchdown pass). Actually, all three basically did. Miller caught a 36-yard pass, but the trio's other 19 receptions averaged just 8.8 yards. But the Broncos were consistently able to stay in third-and-manageable territory and move the chains, and it was just enough. Big plays were an issue for Boise State in 2012, but efficiency was not.
12. Interceptions thrown by Washington quarterback Keith Price in 2012. In 11 games against teams not named Portland State or Colorado, Price completed 59 percent of his passes at 6.0 yards per pass with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That is very, very below average. Price is elusive and all sorts of tough (he took hits all night and even dished a few out on a touchdown run late in the first half), but he struggled to simply read defenses and make the right throw in 2012. He threw two interceptions against Boise State, and both were off of very poor decisions. One (a pick by Jamar Taylor, who was blanketing intended receiver Kasen Williams) set up a field goal drive by Boise State; the other (a throw into double coverage that was picked off by safety Jeremy Ioane) ended the game.
6. Approximate number of total starters Boise State returned in 2012. The Broncos went 50-3 in four seasons from 2008-11, but they lost the lion's share of their household names after last season's 12-1 run. We knew they would take a step backwards in 2012, and they did ... all the way to 11-2. The defense was still a top 20 unit (which makes Sankey's accomplishments even more impressive), the offense was decent, if lacking in explosiveness, and the special teams unit was still decent, if once again lacking in a reliable kicking unit. (Boise State did make three field goals on Saturday, but still had a PAT blocked, which could have cost the Broncos the game.)
In all, Boise State was still a top 20-to-25 team despite massive turnover and came within six points (four versus Michigan State, two versus San Diego State) of an undefeated record. (On the flipside, the Broncos did also win four games by one possession, so they were as close to 9-4 as they were to 13-0.) No matter who is on the field, this team will be well-coached by Chris Petersen and company (despite the fact that he has also lost key assistants in the last couple of years), and it will be talented enough to win a lot of games.
The real test, however, may come in 2013. Despite all of the personnel changes, Boise State still started upwards of 12-to-13 seniors, from running back D.J. Harper, to receiver Chris Potter, to three offensive linemen, to tackle Darren Koontz (who replaced fellow senior Mike Atkinson in the starting lineup when Atkinson went down), to both starting linebackers, to both starting (stud) cornerbacks. There is still plenty of fascinating talent on this team, but there was still a bit of a safety net for the young stars in 2012. That net will be removed in 2013, for better or for worse.
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