No panic from 2-2 Broncos

No panic from 2-2 Broncos
Boise State's Jay Ajayi (27) heads up the middle in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Fresno State, Friday, Sep. 20, 2013, in Fresno, Calif. (AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, Gary Kazanjian) - LOCAL PRINT OUT (VISALIA TIMES-DELTA, REEDY EXPONENT, KINGBURG RECORDER, SELMA ENTERPRISE, HANFORD SENTINEL, PORTERVILLE RECORDER, MADERA TRIBUNE, THE BUSINESS JOURANL FRENSO); LOCAL TV OUT (KSEE24, KFSN30, KGE47, KMPH26)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Boise State's loss to Fresno State on Friday put head coach Chris Petersen and his players in some unfamiliar territory so early in the season.

Fueled by a late touchdown and defensive stand, Fresno State knocked off its longtime rival 41-40, and in the process handed the Broncos their second defeat of the season.

For one of the winningest teams over the last decade, the defeat marked just the second time since 2005 that the Broncos have suffered a second loss before the month of November rolled around. The Broncos also failed to receive a single vote in the AP Top 25 poll, another first since the 2005 season.

Despite reaching such dubious milestones, players insist there is no reason to panic.

"We're holding up great," defensive end Beau Martin said when asked to assess the team's overall mood Monday. "The thing is we've got the guys and we've got the attitude. Coach is going to tell us to trust the process, not mope around. We're 2-2, but like I said, it's a long season and we've got to keep grinding."

The Broncos get a chance to get things right Saturday when they host Southern Mississippi, a team that has lost 15 straight — the nation's longest string of futility — and is coming off a bye week.

Boise State, the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference's Mountain Division, now finds itself in third place in the division, looking up at Wyoming and Utah State. Both teams are on Boise State's schedule in the coming weeks, but for now, the Broncos can't afford to think beyond the lowly Golden Eagles.

There are just too many areas on offense and defense that need attention.

After years of boasting one of the nation's stingiest defenses, the Broncos defense can't seem to make enough plays to get off the field.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr threw for 460 yards and four touchdowns in helping the Bulldogs snap a seven-game losing streak to Boise State that also dates back to 2005.

After the Bulldogs' offensive explosion, the Broncos rank 98th in the nation in total defense, giving up 440.8 yards per game. The defense is also among the nation's worst in third-down efficiency and passing yards allowed.

Petersen said some of the problems on defense can be expected with a unit featuring so many new and young faces. Aside from defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and end Demarcus Lawrence, the rest of the defense is made up of players who saw limited action a year ago or are getting their first significant playing time since arriving on campus.

With that have come miscues, blown assignments and the kind of errors veteran players avoid in big games, Petersen said.

"It's not any one thing, it's a lot of little things," said Petersen. "It kind of starts with personnel and experience, those kinds of things. They are good guys who fight hard. They'll improve. But there is no substitute for experience."

The offense, expected to carry the defense at least in the early going, has been inconsistent, at times putting up huge numbers but at others victimized by turnovers and missed opportunities.

Starting running back Jay Ajayi fumbled in the second half against Fresno State, squelching a promising drive inside the red zone. It was the third time in two games he put the ball on the ground.

The offensive line allowed four sacks against the Bulldogs, but Petersen said senior quarterback Joe Southwick deserves some of the blame.

Still, Southwick played one of the best games of his career, helping Boise State score 21 unanswered points in the second half before Carr marched the Bulldogs down the field for the go-ahead touchdown.

"He played tough," Petersen said of Southwick. "He's playing well. But nobody is playing perfect. There are a handful of plays he's got to make if we want to get over that hump."