Boise State senior tight end Jake Roh really, really wanted to play against Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game Dec. 2.
After missing the regular-season finale against the Bulldogs a week earlier with a lower left leg injury, and then going a week without practicing, he told tight ends coach Kent Riddle he wanted to suit up. Coach Bryan Harsin was impressed but wanted to see how Roh felt. In warmups it was clear — he wasn’t ready.
“For me, I had to exhaust all options before saying, ‘I’m not ready to go,’ ” Roh said. “I had to really know before I could live with myself sitting on the sideline for a championship game.”
Roh was hurt late in the Nov. 18 win over Air Force, trying to get into the end zone on a short run. He was on the sideline for the Nov. 25 game at Fresno State in a boot and aided by a scooter. Roh isn’t in the clear for Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl, but Harsin hopes to have him in the fold.
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“I know how bad he wants to play,” Harsin said. “I’m extremely hopeful for him, I just don’t know.
“He’s the ultimate competitor. ... It doesn’t show, but I know it’s killing him to not be out there.”
Given Boise State’s recent struggles scoring, Roh could be a major boost. His nine touchdown receptions lead the team and are tied for third-most among Football Bowl Subdivision tight ends, plus he’s added two rushing scores. Roh has set career highs with 39 receptions and 410 yards receiving.
Last season, a knee injury slowed Roh down all season, but with a month between the end of the regular season and the Cactus Bowl, he finished 2016 strong, with six catches for 54 yards after having just four catches before the bowl.
In his absence, Roh said senior Alec Dhaenens and redshirt freshman John Bates (three receptions apiece) played well. But for Roh, playing against Oregon is “the goal,” and he desperately wants to be on the field one last time for Boise State.
“Things have been going really well, progressing in the right direction,” Roh said. “It’s definitely not how you picture it ending, but for me, it’s keep working, trying to do everything I can to get back on the field.”
Roh and sophomore running back Alexander Mattison, dealing with similar injuries, did not take part in team drills in Wednesday’s practice, and neither wore a helmet.
BOWL WEEK PREP CONTINUES
The team held a practice Wednesday on UNLV’s campus, which was preceded by the team’s injured players making a charity visit. Both teams gathered Wednesday night in downtown Las Vegas for the annual welcome reception.
Another charity opportunity will be held Thursday morning before practice and, on Thursday night, the teams will get the chance to ride the High Roller observation wheel just off the Strip.