Hawaii Bowl notebook: Harsin adds three assistants to 2014 Boise State staff

ccripe@idahostatesman.comDecember 22, 2013 

HAWAII MOMENT From left, cornerback Donte Deayon, defensive tackle Justin Taimatuia, safety Jeremy Ioane, cornerback Jonathan Moxey and safety Dillon Lukehart attend the Royal Hawaiian luau on Waikiki Beach on Saturday night.

COURTESY OF BOISE STATE ATHLETICS

  • Hawaii Bowl at a glance

    Teams: Boise State (8-4, Mountain West) vs. Oregon State (6-6, Pac-12)

    When: Tuesday

    Kickoff: 6 p.m. MT

    Where: Aloha Stadium (50,000, artificial turf), Honolulu

    TV: ESPN (Steve Levy, Mark May, Lou Holtz, Maria Taylor)

    Radio: 670 AM and 96.9 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender); 730 AM and 96.5 FM (Kevin Winter, Trevor Matich)

    Vegas line: Oregon State is favored by 3; over/under is 64.

    Coaches: Bob Gregory, Boise State (interim); Mike Riley, Oregon State (87-73 in 13 seasons)

    Series: Oregon State leads 4-3 (last meeting: Boise State won 37-24 at Bronco Stadium on Sept. 25, 2010)

    Boise State bowl record: 9-4

    Oregon State bowl record: 10-6

— New Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, who is working from Arkansas while he makes the transition from Arkansas State to Boise State, has hired two coaches and an administrator.

He informed his players via text message.

Combined with Harsin’s earlier hires, junior wide receiver Matt Miller said Saturday at the Hawaii Bowl the mood is changing in the locker room.

“I was one of those guys who knew Coach Hars, so I know we’ve got a great guy coming in, and he’s assembling a great staff,” Miller said. “It kind of created a new buzz around the locker room, which is nice, to see those young guys kind of getting excited again.”

The initial shock of coach Chris Petersen’s departure for Washington left some players with thoughts of playing elsewhere, Miller said. One, tailback Aaron Baltazar, already has left.

“Everybody kind of goes through that, but Boise State is a great place to play football and go to school, and we have a lot of faith in our administration to bring in a great football coach, which they did with coach Harsin,” he said. “When it first happened, there were thoughts of (leaving), but now everyone is pretty happy.

“We’ve got great offensive minds coming in, and they’re excited to play for those types of guys.”

The latest additions — all from Arkansas State — are special teams/running backs coach Kent Riddle, who served in that capacity at Boise State from 2001 to 2005; defensive line coach Steve Caldwell, who previously worked at Arkansas (2010-12) and Tennessee (1995-2008); and director of football operations Brian Wilkinson, who was the assistant athletic director for football operations at Arkansas State.

Harsin has hired six of his nine full-time assistants: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford, offensive line coach Scott Huff, Riddle, Caldwell, defensive assistant Andy Avalos and defensive coordinator Marcel Yates.

Kwiatkowski, Strausser moving on

Washington still hasn’t announced any members of Petersen’s staff, but Boise State defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski acknowledged he’ll be joining the Huskies (he wouldn’t say in what role), and offensive line coach Chris Strausser hinted at it. The Idaho Statesman previously reported both accepted jobs at Washington.

Kwiatkowski, a former Boise State player, has been on staff since 2006.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to get out there one last time and watch these guys, and then when the game’s over, it’s on to the next deal. … You always have to think about the pros and cons of anything you’re going to do. Coach Petersen is an awesome guy to work for, and the guys that I’m going to be working with are awesome guys. Those relationships are just as important as where you coach.”

Strausser has been on the Broncos’ staff since 2001 except for one year at Colorado, in 2006, when he followed Dan Hawkins there. His youngest child graduates from high school in the spring.

Strausser applied for the Boise State head coach position.

“I’ve got no hesitation about what’s going on,” he said. “I love this place, I really do, I will forever. But to me, I had one job offer and I took it.”

Another recruit switches to Washington

Tight end Drew Sample of Newport (Wash.) High has switched his commitment from Boise State to Washington, following Petersen, he confirmed via text message. He is the second Boise State commit to do so, joining quarterback Jalen Greene.

Oregon State coach Riley is an Idaho native

Boise State and Oregon State will be led by native Idahoans next year. Harsin is from Boise. Oregon State’s Mike Riley, who has coached the Beavers for 15 seasons, was born in Wallace.

“I’m very proud of my Idaho background,” Riley said.

His dad, Bud, was a coach. Bud was the coach at Wallace High when Riley was born. He moved to Lewiston High when Riley was in first through third grades, and then to the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he was the freshman coach for the Vandals. The Rileys followed Idaho coach Dee Andros to Oregon State.

Riley’s last school year in Idaho was sixth grade. Riley’s dad died last year, and he no longer has any family in Idaho.

Beavers need to run

Oregon State fell in love with its passing attack this season — and Riley says that cost his team.

The Beavers rank third in the nation in passing (382.1 yards per game), but 118th in rushing (86). They had a season high of 120 yards against Colorado until breaking through for 231 in the regular-season finale against Oregon.

“It’s kind of bittersweet to me,” Riley said. “We were 6-1 and throwing the ball and being very, very successful, and then we ran into the really hard part of our schedule with Stanford and Arizona State looming — the two teams that played for the (Pac-12) championship — and we never did get the ground game established. That really has hurt us. We’ve always had a good running game. We really missed it when we got into the hard part of our schedule. We came back against Oregon and ran the ball well. It just looked so much better. It was so much of a better way for us to play. We want to continue that, we hope, against Boise.”

Boise State’s run defense was stingy late in the season, holding Colorado State’s Kapri Bibbs and San Diego State’s Adam Muema to a combined 115 yards.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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