The throw and catch drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the stands.
The decision got Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin’s attention.
On first-and-10 at the Hawaii 21-yard line Saturday, Boise State true freshman quarterback Brett Rypien recognized that the Rainbow Warriors’ safety to the wide side of the field wasn’t going to be able to defend receiver Thomas Sperbeck’s route.
That gave Rypien the chance to drop a perfect pass into the “pie hole” — the term coaches use to describe the back corner of the end zone.
Sperbeck made a toe-dragging catch on a play that Harsin uses as the latest example of Rypien’s maturity beyond his eight months as a college football player.
“He wouldn’t have made that throw if he hadn’t watched and seen that on film: ‘If he does that one time, I’m taking advantage of it,’ ” Harsin said Monday at his press conference to preview Saturday’s game at Colorado State. “To me, that gave me confidence in what he’s watching and how much film he’s watching because there weren’t many looks of that that came up.”
Rypien was the Broncos’ internal offensive player of the week in his second start. He was 19-for-25 for 271 yards and three touchdowns with no sacks or turnovers (he threw an interception that was negated by penalty).
Rypien is 51-for-69 for 718 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions in two and a half games since starter Ryan Finley was injured. Rypien’s rating is 190.02, which would rank third in the nation if he qualified; he needs to play three more games to meet the NCAA standard.
Finley, who is out with a broken bone in his right ankle, was 46-for-70 for 485 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions in two-plus games as the starter. His rating: 117.20, which would be outside the top 100 nationally if he qualified.
The disparate quarterback performances — Finley, it’s worth noting, played against the Broncos’ two best opponents — have led to speculation that coaches chose the wrong quarterback in August. Harsin tried to quash that chatter Monday.
“I know where you guys are going,” he said after several Rypien questions. “Let me be clear on this: Ryan Finley was the clear starter coming out of fall camp. We felt like Brett could play but we made our decision and the hard thing right now is to speculate. Ryan’s not playing. Brett is. ... Right now, (Rypien) is playing well. He’s doing a nice job.”
The most obvious difference between the two quarterbacks is the deep ball. Rypien has thrown some fantastic vertical passes, like the TD to Sperbeck and an earlier 54-yard TD strike to wide receiver Chaz Anderson. Finley struggled to complete those passes and threw two interceptions on ill-advised deep balls in the loss to BYU.
Rypien, Harsin said, is throwing the ball better now than he was in fall camp.
“Just more throws, more opportunities to hear the same coaching points, more reps,” Harsin said. “... He’s throwing the ball really well. Physically, he has just gotten better. That’s what you’re seeing out there, the ball coming out of his hand — he’s more consistent with his mechanics. That’s showing up.”
Harsin isn’t ready to talk about what happens when Finley returns, likely in mid-November.
“We’re focused on this week,” he said. “When that time comes, we’ll address it then.”
Rypien hasn’t been made available to the media since he arrived at Boise State in January. That won’t change for quite some time, Harsin said.
“Brett will be available after the Spring Game in 2016,” he said. “That’ll be the first time.”
Harsin said he wasn’t joking. It’s possible Rypien will do interviews sooner, he said, but that would be the latest.
Harsin has sheltered his quarterbacks to the point that only Finley has done an interview with the local media since arriving at Boise State — and he’s only done two, one in fall camp 2014 and one after the Washington game this year.
“(Rypien) is going to class or he’s over here watching film,” Harsin said. “Those two things right there take the majority of his time. ... He’s able to speak. He can answer questions. He’s capable of doing it. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job.”
The players of the game vs. Hawaii were Rypien (offense), safety Darian Thompson and cornerback Donte Deayon (defense), linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (special teams), center Marcus Henry (O-line) and end Kamalei Correa (D-line). ... Harsin on kicker Tyler Rausa being snubbed by teammates on high-fives after a kick: “We showed that on the screen here at a team meeting. We said that kickers are people, too. They got a kick out of that — pun intended.” ... True freshman linebacker Drew Berger, who is redshirting, had shoulder surgery. Nobody who played in last week’s game was injured to the extent that he won’t play this week, Harsin said. ... Left tackle Rees Odhiambo said he left last week’s game by rule because his helmet came off. He stayed out for a few plays because he also lost a contact.