Boise State’s offense showed a little sizzle, and it got the steak.
A week after the Broncos did not have much success moving the ball in their first spring scrimmage, they got into a groove Saturday in the annual spring game, especially behind the first-team offense.
Using a modified scoring system, the Boise State offense held off the defense, winning 49-48 after building a 20-point lead going into the final quarter. The offense got a steak dinner, the defense left Albertsons Stadium with hot dogs.
“We made it a little bit closer than we should have toward the end, but it’s nice to get the defense every once in a while,” sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien said.
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Rypien led the offense to three of its four touchdown drives, including the only two touchdown passes of the day — both to sophomore wide receiver Sean Modster. The sophomore set connected on scoring plays of 21 and 52 yards.
Senior running back Devan Demas capped off a Rypien-led drive with a 21-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. Sophomore running back Cory Young scored from 3 yards late in the third to cap a long drive with junior Tommy Stuart at QB.
In the previous scrimmage, the offense had only two touchdowns, and just one that started in its own half of the field.
“That’s been kind of the theme all spring. We’ve been back and forth with the defense; you don’t really want one side of the ball to be dominant,” said Rypien, who was 20-of-37 passing for 234 yards. “Today, we got them a little bit more, but our defense has been doing a great job all spring. That unit, there was a lot of questions about them coming into spring, but they’ve been doing a really good job.”
With seniors Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson not suited up — a choice to rest the veterans, coach Bryan Harsin said — Modster and the other receivers had a chance to step up. Modster had three catches for 79 yards, and sophomore A.J. Richardson led with six catches for 64 yards.
“Every guy playing right now is comfortable with the speed of the game, so we’re all just trying to work up to be the top guy,” Modster said.
On Wednesday, Harsin issued a challenge to the team to show on the field all the things it was learning off it, to look up to players like Rypien, whose competitiveness shows up daily.
“Overall, happy with the progress we’ve made this spring,” Harsin said. “... I think the guys’ attitude and mentality about what we wanted to get done and how we wanted to go prepare, the type of technique we’d been preparing with each and every practice, those were showing up (Saturday).”
The offense’s win came with a little controversy.
Under the scoring system, explosive plays (12 yards or more on a rush or 16 yards or more on a pass) were worth two points, helping the offense to a 29-16 lead at the half. Coaches decided to scrap that portion in the second half. Forcing a three-and-out gave the defense two points, and a fourth-down stop was three points.
In the fourth quarter, the defense had a sack, fumble and third-down stop the same play, two late fourth-down stops and a sack. The offense was stagnant, and freshman running back Jake Shaddox was stopped on a third down in the final seconds for the final points. The defense tried to call a timeout and get a shot to stop the offense on fourth down, but to no avail.
“I don’t know if I’m going to eat very many (hot dogs),” said junior defensive tackle Austin Silsby, who had two sacks. “... I think we should’ve had that timeout, and I think we would’ve had it. I think it was a little unfair, but it’s all right.”
LB BERGER NO LONGER WITH TEAM
Harsin confirmed following Saturday’s game that redshirt freshman linebacker Drew Berger is no longer with the team. Berger had not practiced this spring and is not on the roster.
“He wanted to do something else,” Harsin said.
Berger redshirted last season and had shoulder surgery in October. The Coeur d’Alene High graduate played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl after his senior year.
Harsin said there were no serious injuries sustained in the spring. Offensive linemen Mario Yakoo and Archie Lewis, along with tight end Chase Blakley, all missed the entire spring but are expected to be full strength this summer. Linebacker/nickel Tanner Vallejo, who has been limited this spring, did not play Saturday. Safety Chanceller James was not on the sidelines at Saturday’s game. Harsin did not give a reason, but said he is still with the team.
ONE PRACTICE LEFT
The team will reconvene Monday for one final practice. Harsin is eager to see the team take what it has learned from the spring into player-run practices this summer.
“To me, that’s the time as a player, when you get the chance to go out there and do it yourself, operate it and organize it,” Harsin said. “That’s where you can really learn quite a bit.”
Spring game stats
- Passing: Brett Rypien 20-of-37 for 234 yards, two TDs, 0 INTs; Tommy Stuart 6-of-15 for 76 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs; Ryan Finley 9-of-14 for 75 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs; Anthony Upshaw 2-of-9 for 4 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs 0.541 234 2 0 125.0
- Rushing: Cory Young 8 carries-30 yards, 1 TD; Devan Demas 7-42, 1 TD; Jake Shaddox 6-50; Jeremy McNichols 6-40; Tommy Stuart 4-(-2); Ryan Finley 4-(-9); Ryan Wolpin 3-9; Brett Rypien 2-16; Anthony Upshaw 1-(-5).
- Receiving: A.J. Richardson 6 catches-64 yards; Akilian Butler 4-39; Cedrick Wilson 4-35; Sean Modster 3-79, 2 TDs; Austin Cottrell 3-21; Cory Young 3-17; Jeremy McNichols 3-6; Alec Dhaenens 2-39; David McKinzie 2-26; Devan Demas 2-9; Matt Pistone 2-6; Garrett Collingham 1-35; Ryan Wolpin 1-9; Jake Knight 1-4.