Boise State football's new offense: A hybrid with ‘funk’

Harsin: Injured QB Ryan Finley will throw this spring; Huff and Pint suspended for season opener against Ole Miss.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comMarch 7, 2014 

— The Broncos will stitch together a no-huddle, shotgun-based offense built with pieces from Boise State, Arkansas State and Stanford when spring ball begins next week.

New coach Bryan Harsin hopes to retain the shifts, motions and personnel groupings that made the Broncos one of the nation’s best, most creative offensive programs under Chris Petersen, with pacing that could range from uptempo to an occasional huddle.

“There will be times of tempo and times for getting a little bit of funk in there,” Harsin said Thursday in his pre-spring press conference. “… The core still will be running the football on offense. That won’t change. To be a successful team, to be a championship team, you have to run the ball.”

It will not be a seamless transition for the players, who switched to a mostly pistol-based, uptempo attack last year.

The major influences in the playbook will be the offense Harsin built as the coordinator at Boise State (2006-10) and tweaked as the coordinator at Texas (2011-12) and head coach at Arkansas State (2013), and the offense new coordinator Mike Sanford learned as an assistant at Stanford.

“There’s going to be some stuff that conceptually is new, that the terminology is new,” Sanford said. “The ways that we mechanically go through things is going to be new. It’s going to be new to them, but there’s going to be some familiarity.”

The first week of spring ball, which begins Monday, will be about installing the team’s “DNA” — the concepts that form the backbone of the schemes on offense, defense and special teams, Harsin said. Then each coordinator will add what he can during the last three weeks.

After spring ball, the coaches will re-evaluate the schemes based on personnel.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to what the quarterback does the best,” Sanford said.

FINLEY WILL BE LIMITED

Redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Finley, coming off shoulder surgery, will practice on a limited basis this spring, Harsin said.

Finley’s plan includes a set number of throws per day. He will begin with individual drills, throws without defenders and throws in 1-on-1 situations. He won’t throw in 11-on-11 action until he is able to throw without restriction.

“He’s done a great job in our drills,” Harsin said. “I think he’s hungry to get out there. I know he wants to be in everything, but that just isn’t going to happen (yet).”

Finley barely practiced last fall before he was shut down.

Senior Grant Hedrick, who played about half of last season, and sophomore transfer Tommy Stuart will take most of the snaps. Redshirt freshman walk-on Richard Hoppe also is on the roster.

ROSTER NOTES

• Junior tight end Holden Huff and sophomore linebacker Andrew Pint are suspended for the season opener against Ole Miss for unspecified violations of team rules. Huff is the team’s most accomplished tight end. Pint is a reserve.

• Players who won’t participate in 11-on-11 drills this spring because of injuries: offensive tackle Rees Odhiambo, linebacker Travis Saxton, safety Chanceller James, wide receiver Taylor Pope, linebacker Ben Weaver, cornerback Cameron Hartsfield, tight end Alec Dhaenens and offensive lineman Andrew Tercek. Odhiambo and Weaver are returning starters. Harsin said none of the injuries are expected to affect the season, and most of the guys will be back for summer workouts.

• Senior Corey Bell has moved to safety. Redshirt freshman Mat Boesen has moved to stud end. They were strong-side linebackers (formerly nickel) in the old system. The new system will have three safeties, one of which will be called the nickel.

SCRIMMAGE PLAN

The Broncos will have three scrimmages this spring. The dates are March 20 (closed), April 5 (open to the public, with emphasis on students and faculty) and April 12 (Spring Game).

Harsin’s goal for the Spring Game: 20,000 fans.

“We’re hoping we can get that,” he said. “That’s a challenge there.”

The school record is 17,123 fans in 2012.

NICE SURPRISE

The Broncos held their last 5:45 a.m. winter workout Thursday morning in the rain at Bronco Stadium. Coaches surprised the players by telling them they’d run the upper deck — then surprised them again with a buffet breakfast waiting in the Stueckle Sky Center when they reached the top.

You can watch a video of the surprise at IdahoStatesman.com.

Harsin said the breakfast was “a credit to the hard work they’ve put in.”

QUICK HITS

Fall camp will begin Aug. 1. … The coaches held a walk-through of practice Thursday to get familiar with their new routine. It evolved into a little 7-on-7 football. … The NCAA finalized a change to the targeting rule Thursday. When the replay official overturns a targeting ejection, the 15-yard penalty will be overturned, too.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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