One of the unknowns facing Boise State this season, especially with losing three starters off the 2016 squad, was what to expect from its offensive line.
Four quarters in, the Broncos up front have the most to prove as they hit the road to face No. 20 Washington State. After scoring 17 points as an offense in Saturday’s 24-13 win over Troy, it was an inauspicious start. Four sacks yielded and four penalties by four linemen, a bad snap that led to a sack and a fumble, plus 3.3 yards per carry — the group has a lot to prove.
“They didn’t start fast enough, in my opinion,” offensive line coach Brad Bedell said. “Maybe felt their way through the game a little bit. ... I think we got better as the game went on. But that’s behind us. They’ve had their first start, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore, I hope.”
Said senior center Mason Hampton: “It was subpar. Below our standard, for sure.”
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On Thursday, coach Bryan Harsin said simply, “O-line, in general, we need to be a lot better.”
Three of the Broncos’ starters — sophomore guard Garrett Larson and tackles Ezra Cleveland and Andres Preciado — were making their first-ever starts. Hampton’s 11 career starts were the most. Considering the three who graduated had at least 38 starts apiece, plus Bedell in his first game on the staff, perhaps the slow start shouldn’t be shocking.
“Any time you lose guys that have played that much football and have played together, you’re going to see some growing pains, if you want to call it that,” Harsin said.
Bedell said many of the issues stemmed from pre-snap issues, be it the penalties or communication. He said they are things “we’ve gotten better on these past (few) days.” Harsin said as long as the mistakes made are new, they can be fixed, but if ones are repeated, “it’s going to be an issue.”
“Little details, nothing huge we need to overhaul,” said Hampton, who added that he is looking to improve his snaps this week. “We have to take it on us to step it up because against a team like Washington State, you can’t start like that.”
The Broncos hope to get back senior offensive tackle Archie Lewis this week after he missed the opener while recovering from an injury. Lewis has 26 starts under his belt, but if he can’t go, look for right guard Eric Quevedo, who Harsin said “was outstanding” stepping in for a few series for starter John Molchon. Molchon has played tackle for most of his three years on the roster.
Bedell said inexperience is no excuse, but he does have a group that got a lot of good snaps for its second unit, for guys like Quevedo and Preciado.
“That doesn’t mean you sink your standards as a program, as an offense,” Bedell said. “They have to rise to that expectation because that’s the expectation that’s been laid before them.”
AIR QUALITY CONCERNS?
Harsin said there is little the team can do to prepare for the likely unhealthy air in Pullman due to the wildfires across the Northwest. The team has practiced indoors this week. On Thursday afternoon, Boise State said it has not spoken about moving the game or canceling it.
“First and foremost, our primary concern is for the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said in a statement. “Boise State and Washington State began having conversations late (Wednesday) afternoon, and we will be communicating through Saturday. At this point in time, there have been no contingency plans discussed, and we anticipate playing a football game on Saturday.”
A Boise State spokesman said Thursday afternoon that the school had sold nearly 1,200 tickets for Saturday’s game, not including player tickets, but a figure that does include the Boise State band.
LEACH BEING LEACH
During his weekly news conference Monday, Washington State coach Mike Leach took a fan question, which asked him if he believes in Bigfoot or aliens. Naturally, his answer was an instant classic.
On the first topic, he said: “I hope there’s Bigfoot. I doubt there is ... we’ve found bones of dinosaurs, but not bones of Bigfoot that I’ve heard of.”
Leach definitely believes in aliens, but isn’t so sure that they’re “little green men.”
“On Earth, they say we’re the only ones. Well, really? Why? Have you been to other planets, have you checked out the other planets?” Leach said. “I think it makes more sense that if it happened here, it happened somewhere else than it does that it only happened here.
“See, I don’t believe that. Everybody wants to be special, but I don’t think we’re that special.”
For the record, Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, who was recruited by Leach, agrees with the veteran coach, saying he “has an opinion on everything, and is a very, very smart coach.”
MOORE THE BACKUP AGAIN?
Rumors of the demise of Kellen Moore’s NFL career were greatly exaggerated.
As much a favorite punching bag for Dallas Cowboys fans as he is beloved by Boise State fans, Moore is perhaps one snap away from playing in a regular-season game.
The sixth-year quarterback, who went 50-3 at Boise State from 2008 to 2011, is listed as the backup to Dak Prescott on the Cowboys’ official depth chart in his third season with the team.
Moore was released by Dallas on Saturday, available to any of the 31 other NFL teams, but the Cowboys’ gamble worked. They did not want to lose undrafted rookie Cooper Rush should they put the former Central Michigan passer on waivers, so they let Moore become a free agent for a few days. After placing tight end Rico Gathers on injured reserve, it freed up a spot on the roster and Moore was re-signed on Tuesday.
The Cowboys host the Giants at 6:30 p.m. MT Sunday on NBC in their season opener. Dallas announced its season captains this week, and the list includes two former Boise State players in defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford and cornerback Orlando Scandrick.
NO QUARTERBACK BATTLE
Though senior Montell Cozart and junior Brett Rypien will both be used this season, Rypien is the starter. Even though the offense moved better with Cozart under center, Harsin said it won’t necessarily dictate if he will play more.
“They’re not battling. There’s no battling. I think we made that very clear,” Harsin said Thursday. “We’ve got two quarterbacks ... that’s an old mindset, you’ve got guys that can contribute? Utilize them. I think it’d be a complete waste if you had someone on your team and were afraid of utilizing somebody because of what the perception might be.”