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September 28, 2010

Boise St looks to balance aggression with smarts

BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State coach Chris Petersen isn't about to dial down the aggression and emotion that his defense and special teams have shown on the field so far this season.

He just wouldn't mind if his No. 3 Broncos played with a little more smarts or emotional restraint, especially at critical moments in games.

Boise State (3-0) knocked off then-No. 24 Oregon State 37-24 Saturday night, dominating the Beavers in nearly every statistical category. But the margin of victory may have been bigger if not for eight penalties, including two costly personal fouls on third down - taunting and an illegal hit on the quarterback - that extended a touchdown drive that brought the Beavers within seven points late in the third quarter.

In recent years, Petersen has urged his defense to play more aggressively and to use the emotion that builds in big games as an advantage. He doesn't intend to change that philosophy now and recognizes penalties are often a byproduct of playing physical.

But it's safe to say the Broncos will get a lecture or two this week on walking the fine line between aggression and foolishness as they prepare for a trip to New Mexico State.

"We're going to continue to play hard and aggressive. We're going to continue to try and play smarter," said Petersen. "It's very frustrating as a coach when you see the mental-type errors that cause you setbacks.

"But some things are going to happen when you play that hard," he said.

Through three games, the Broncos have been flagged 27 times and are averaging 77.7 yards in penalties per game, the highest average in the Western Athletic Conference and among the highest nationally. Last year, the Broncos were penalized 87 times and averaged just 55.9 penalty yards per game.

Petersen can't explain the uptick so far this season. But he acknowledges the level of competition could be a factor.

Unlike last season, two of Boise State's first three games have been against ranked teams, then-No. 10 Virginia Tech in the opener and Oregon State. Both were on national television, involved physical foes and were steeped in the high emotion that comes with playing in the spotlight with so much at stake.

Late in the third quarter Saturday, Boise State ended a Beavers drive near midfield by sacking quarterback Ryan Katz on third down and long. But Tyrone Crawford was called for taunting Katz while he was sprawled on the field, giving the Beavers a first down.

Three plays later, Katz scrambled for a first down, but was tackled short of the marker. But referees flagged linebacker Winston Venable for a late hit on the play, again giving the Beavers 15 yards and a first down deep in Bronco territory.

The Beavers scored two plays later to narrow Boise State's lead to 31-24.

"We put ourselves in some bad situations. We still came out on top. If we can do that and clean those things up, we're going to do well," said defensive end Ryan Winterswyk. "Penalties are going to come with a physical game."

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