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September 12, 2009
Boise State, Miami ready to get beyond openers
BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State is coming off one of its biggest wins in school history, a convincing victory over Oregon that in many ways has been overshadowed by a postgame punch still being debated in the media and downloaded on YouTube.
Miami-Ohio also took it on the chin last week, a 42-0 drubbing that set a new school mark for the most lopsided opening loss since 1931.
For the No. 12 Broncos (1-0) and RedHawks (0-1), the chance to get back on the field and put the uglier moments of their season openers behind them can't come soon enough.
"There is no other way to feel except to feel bad and wish this thing never happened," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said, referring to the punch thrown by Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount in the aftermath of the Broncos' 19-8 victory last week.
Blount was suspended for the season for hitting Bronco defensive end Byron Hout in the jaw. Hout, accused of taunting Blount, won't miss any games but is being disciplined internally, a decision that has fueled criticism of Petersen and the university.
"It's just the hope that both programs can move forward, get back to playing football ... and learn from it," Petersen said. "There's no great or good thing about this situation."
Saturday's game is the first-ever between Miami and Boise State.
When the schedule makers for the two schools got together in 2005, the matchup seemed a lot more appealing than it does now.
At the time, Boise State was establishing itself as the elite team in the Western Athletic Conference, while Miami was a darling of the Mid-American Conference, boasting a 21-6 record over the previous two seasons. But while Boise State has continued to gain notoriety and respect, Miami has struggled, compiling a 17-32 record over the last three seasons.
New head coach Mike Haywood is in the rebuilding process, and his focus this week was stressing the importance of teaching his young team to adapt to adversity.
The RedHawks, starting four freshmen, stayed close to Kentucky until an interception midway through the second quarter by senior quarterback Daniel Radabaugh helped Kentucky post a 21-0 lead at halftime.
"From that pick on we didn't adapt to sudden change very well and the game got away from us," said Haywood, who coached the offense at Notre Dame for four years before going to Miami.
"You've got to build confidence in your players because you were shut out," he said. "You've got to give them things that they can do, make sure they know exactly what you expect out of them in every situation ... otherwise Boise State will cause some problems."
That's for sure.
The Broncos dominated the Ducks in every facet, rolling up 361 total yards and holding Oregon to 152 yards and just six first downs.
The victory helped the Broncos clear the toughest early season hurdle to an undefeated season, a must if the Broncos hope to be considered in any serious BCS conversations come November.
Petersen said he's confident veterans on the team will prevent any kind of emotional, physical or mental letdown this week against Miami.
"With all the big game hype, last week was kind of a bowl game atmosphere," Petersen said. "Now I think it's important we hone in and really pay attention to ourselves.
"I think we have enough maturity on this team that they'll watch the tape and see that they (Miami) have good players," he said.
The challenge for Miami is stopping Boise State's offense, which appears equally potent running or passing.
The Broncos' tandem of D.J. Harper and Jeremy Avery combined for 162 yards rushing against Oregon, despite some youth along the Broncos' front line.
And despite two fumbles in the opener, quarterback Kellen Moore appears to have picked up where he left off last year. Moore, the WAC freshman of the year who led his team to a 12-1 record a year ago, threw for 197 yards and a touchdown last week and has an even better command of the Broncos' spread, trick-filled offense.
"We're going to have to create more of a pass rush," said Haywood. "We just didn't put any pressure on the quarterback. We also need to do a better job at playing at the speed of the game. Boise is going to be a fast team."