Hawaii Bowl notebook: Players 'excited' for Harsin era

ccripe@idahostatesman.comDecember 19, 2013 

PLAYERS ‘EXCITED’ FOR HARSIN ERA

When Bryan Harsin was introduced last week as Boise State’s next head coach, excitement replaced uncertainty among the players, sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi said.

“It’s the coach Harsin era and we’re excited to be a part of that,” he said. “… You don’t have to worry about, ‘Man, what’s going to happen? Who’s our coach going to be? What kind of coach is he?’ Now we know who our guy is and we’re excited to move forward.”

Ajayi and junior linebacker Corey Bell spoke to the media Wednesday — the first public comments from players who are returning next season since coach Chris Petersen took the Washington job Dec. 6.

Harsin met the team Friday.

“It was exciting to see a new face talking,” Ajayi said.

Ajayi asked some of his teammates about Harsin, who was the offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2010 and overlapped with the redshirt senior and redshirt junior classes.

“They said he’s an offensive genius,” Ajayi said. “That’s the (term) they used — offensive genius. He knows what he’s doing, he’s kind of a perfectionist almost and they said our offense is going to be rolling.”

Bell said he expects some new techniques or philosophies but the same values that have been staples of the program.

“We’re all here to play football and play blue-collar football,” he said.

Said Ajayi: “Coach Pete, he felt like this was his next step. And we don’t blame him. We’re very excited for what he’s going to do over there. We knew when he said he was going to leave that this change is going to bring in a new jolt of energy. It’s going to change things up for us. We’re just excited to see what the future holds.”

TWO-QB GAME

Boise State will use senior Joe Southwick and junior Grant Hedrick on Tuesday against Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl (6 p.m. MT, ESPN), interim coach Bob Gregory said.

Southwick started the first seven games before breaking his right ankle. He returned for one series in the regular-season finale against New Mexico and led a TD drive. Hedrick started four games and played most of two others.

Gregory declined to name a starter. “Both guys are going to play,” he said. “We’re working packages for both guys.”

Other personnel notes:

• Junior tailback Derrick Thomas will not make the bowl trip because of a violation of team standards, Gregory said. The Broncos leave Thursday afternoon.

• Freshman tailback Aaron Baltazar’s departure from the program was by “mutual agreement.” Gregory expects him to transfer.

• Sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes will be a game-time decision. He had ankle surgery after the regular season.

AJAYI WILL RETURN

Ajayi said he’ll “definitely” play for the Broncos in 2014. He is NFL Draft-eligible.

“I’m just enjoying my college experience, just trying to make big plays for my team,” he said.

Ajayi has rushed for 1,328 yards and 17 touchdowns this season while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He made the All-Mountain West first team.

“I’m very pleased with how my vision improved,” he said. “From the start of the season, that was one of my personal goals, to be named an all-conference player — just because that means you’re one of the best.”

FOOTBALL GRADS

Boise State’s December graduates include receiver Geraldo Boldewijn, punter Trevor Harman, linebacker Dustin Kamper, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., defensive end Kharyee Marshall, center Matt Paradis, Southwick, defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and offensive lineman Chris Tozer. Former linebacker John Michael Davis also is graduating.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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