BRETT RYPIEN, QUARTERBACK
In his first game since his paternal grandmother passed away, Rypien was inspired, playing one of his best games last Friday against New Mexico after a bumpy start. The sophomore started 1-for-4 for 3 yards, then completed 20 of his next 24 attempts for 388 yards and five touchdowns without an interception, earning Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“I think when they brought pressure and he kept his composure in the pocket, that was a huge thing he did, and that’s why he was able to get all those throws off,” senior receiver Thomas Sperbeck said.
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Colorado State’s young defense has at times struggled with the deep ball, where Rypien excelled in his last game. He’ll hope to continue what he and previous Boise State quarterbacks have done against the Rams. In five previous meetings, BSU’s starters are 106-of-145 (73.1 percent) for 1,550 yards with 14 touchdowns and one interception.
TANNER VALLEJO, LINEBACKER
Vallejo made his presence felt quickly last week at New Mexico, taking down quarterback Lamar Jordan for a 5-yard loss to create a third-and-13 on the defense’s second play of the game. The senior missed the second half Sept. 24 at Oregon State and the full game Oct. 1 against Utah State with an undisclosed injury, but he is still tied for second on the team with 31 tackles.
“I felt good being back out there,” Vallejo said. “... It’s always tough watching from the sidelines, but I think I needed it for some nagging stuff to get better.”
JONATHAN MOXEY, CORNERBACK
One of the defense’s key leaders, Moxey spent the first half of last week’s game in the visitors’ locker room while serving a mandatory suspension following a targeting penalty late Oct. 1 against Utah State. The senior returned for two series in the second half, and defensive coordinator Andy Avalos has said “fresh legs” to Moxey all week as he prepares for his 30th start.
“Sitting in there, it was tough watching those guys play. But they did what they needed to do and we got the ‘W,’ so everything was cool,” Moxey said.
NICK STEVENS, QUARTERBACK
From second-team All-Mountain West selection to backup, and now back to starter. It has been an odd run for Stevens, who threw for 2,679 yards and 21 touchdowns last year. The junior was benched during a brutal 6-for-20 showing (with 31 yards and two interceptions) in the opener against Colorado. Stevens helped lead two scoring drives last week after freshman starter Collin Hill was lost for the season with a torn ACL. He’s 4-for-8 for 46 yards since losing to the Buffaloes.
“It doesn’t happen very often you have two really good players at that position. Nick came in there and, I thought, did a very good job and led his team to victory when they had an unfortunate incident with their starter,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
KEVIN DAVIS, LINEBACKER
One of the best and most productive at his position in the conference, Davis is everywhere for the Rams. He leads the team with 58 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks and two forced fumbles. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior had 101 tackles (14 for loss) last season. He is the defending MW Defensive Player of the Week after picking up seven tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery against Utah State.
“It was relief. It was something that we needed as a team,” Davis said of the win. “Guys believed (Saturday), and that was huge. You could see it in their eyes. It wasn’t like any of the other games. Guys believed. We fed off of each other.”
HAYDEN HUNT, PUNTER
The punter rarely gets any love, but Hunt deserves it. He’s a true weapon for the Rams, allowing them to control field position. A Ray Guy Award finalist last year, he’s averaging 44.7 yards per punt, 16th nationally. He has nine punts of more than 50 yards, and of his 202 career punts, just 11 have gone for touchbacks.
“The guy’s a stud. Guy can boom it,” Harsin said.