A game lacking intrigue coming into Friday night provided tons of it during Boise State’s 52-0 rout of Idaho State.
The Broncos’ win at Albertsons Stadium took a backseat to an injury to sophomore quarterback Ryan Finley, who came up limping with a lower right leg injury after a 5-yard scramble in the first quarter. The extent and the exact nature was unknown after the game, per coach Bryan Harsin.
It also means the Broncos’ quarterback of the future, Brett Rypien, may be the quarterback of the present with a road game at Virginia on deck Friday.
“Not knowing exactly the length Finley’s going to be out ... we need to have a couple quarterbacks prepared, bottom line,” Harsin said.
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Finley spent about 10 minutes on the trainers’ table behind the Broncos’ sideline, then walked gingerly with some aid from trainers as he walked to get X-rays at the Idaho Sports Medicine Institute in the southeast corner of the stadium. Midway through the second quarter, he was seen riding in a cart with crutches as he was taken to the locker room.
Only once in the previous 12 seasons has a Boise State starting quarterback been hurt and unable to make his next start — on Oct. 19, 2013, Joe Southwick broke his right ankle against Nevada, replaced for the next four games by Grant Hedrick. Before that, it was September of 2002, when Ryan Dinwiddie suffered, yes, a broken ankle, with B.J. Rhode stepping in.
The injury also gave way to Plan B in the Broncos’ quarterback plans: Rypien, the much-heralded true freshman from Spokane. Rypien burned his redshirt when he entered the game in the second offensive series of the second half for Boise State, immediately completing his first four attempts. He led the Broncos (2-1) to a touchdown on the drive, an eight-play, 80-yard trek, culminating in a 4-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Jeremy McNichols with 7:50 remaining in the third quarter. Rypien was the first true freshman quarterback to play for Boise State since Tony Hilde in 1993.
“He’s been ready to play ... he went in there and showed what he’s capable of doing,” Harsin said.
Rypien, who finished his prep career with 13,044 passing yards (eighth-most nationally), was 8-of-9 for 126 yards in his college debut. Boise State scored 24 points in the four drives in which he appeared against the Bengals (1-2), averaging 10.2 yards per play with him in the game.
“He really showed he can play,” junior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck said. “He looked good.”
Before Rypien’s debut, sophomore Tommy Stuart performed more than admirably in Finley’s absence for two quarters, showing some speed while tossing some sharp passes. He completed 9-of-13 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, rushing for 46 yards in his first game action for Boise State. On his first drive, Stuart marched the Broncos for 75 yards, finishing a 95-yard drive started by Finley, capped off with a 13-yard Devan Demas touchdown run that made it 14-0 with 2:34 left in the first quarter. Stuart ran for 30 yards on the drive, including a 24-yarder on a fourth-and-2 the play before Demas’ score.
“Tommy did a great job of not letting the tempo drop,” Sperbeck said. “He said ‘we’re going to go down and score the ball.’”
Before exiting the game, Finley was 5-of-6 for 59 yards and led a scoring drive in his second series before being hurt during the third. On the season, he is 46-of-70 for 485 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Questions about his effectiveness going forward, along with his job stability are now moot with the team’s hand likely forced due to the injury.
Aiding the four quarterbacks who played — redshirt freshman Alex Ogle also made his debut late — was a rushing attack that had 344 yards and scored six touchdowns with 10 ball carriers credited having at least one attempt. McNichols scored three touchdowns and had 69 yards on 15 attempts. Cory Young also added 69 yards, while Demas had 65 yards on three carries. Boise State racked up 598 yards of offense in the win.
The Boise State defense clamped down on one of the Football Championship Subdivision’s top offenses, posting its first shutout since Dec. 3, 2011, a 45-0 win over New Mexico. Idaho State had 289 yards of offense, but failed to score despite four trips into Boise State territory.
“When you see 7-0 on D, you just know, they don't score, we win,” junior linebacker Tanner Vallejo said. “That’s our mentality on defense.”
Vallejo blocked a pair of kicks, including a rugby punt that hit him square, giving Boise State the ball at the Idaho State 27, leading to a 9-yard Kelsey Young touchdown run with 1:58 elapsed in the second half and a 28-0 lead. He also blocked a field goal, which Boise State turned into a touchdown eight plays and 80 yards later on Rypien’s first drive.
“They rallied around each other, I think they understood the magnitute of what happened,” Harsin said. “... those guys did a nice job of handling it.”
Whoever the starter is next game, he draws a tough task against a feisty Virginia team that is 0-2, but played tough against ranked foes UCLA and Notre Dame to open the season. The Cavaliers host FCS William & Mary on Saturday.