Boise State true freshman quarterback Brett Rypien’s first three college games have raised questions about whether he should have been the No. 1 guy from the start.
Coach Bryan Harsin shot that idea down Monday at his weekly press conference.
“I know where you guys are going,” Harsin 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.”
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Finley is out with a broken bone in his right ankle. He was 46-for-70 for 485 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions in two-plus games as the starter. His rating: 117.20 (would be outside the top 100 nationally if he had played enough games to qualify).
Rypien is 51-for-69 for 718 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions in two and a half games. His rating: 190.02 (would be third; he’ll need to play three more games to qualify).
Two challenges in comparing them: Finley played against Boise State’s two best opponents (Washington and BYU) and the offense clearly has improved at other positions during the three-game win streak.
Still, Rypien has been much more effective throwing the ball deep and far less of a turnover risk.
“He’s just come a long ways from where he was in fall camp, even mechanically,” Harsin said. “Just more throws, more opportunities to hear the same coaching points, more reps. As far as his play, yeah, we hoped for that. We hope that for every one of our quarterbacks, but he’s done a nice job. We’ve always felt like his preparation habits have been very, very good. ... 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.”
As for what happens when Finley returns, perhaps against New Mexico or Air Force in mid-November, Harsin isn’t ready to answer that.
“We’re focused on this week,” Harsin 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,” Harsin 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 protected his quarterbacks to the point that only Finley has ever done an interview since arriving at Boise State — and he’s only done two, one in fall camp 2014 and one after the Washington game.
“(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.”
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NOTES & QUOTES
Coach Bryan Harsin
— The players of the game vs. Hawaii were QB Brett 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 and Colorado State coach Mike Bobo have met to trade ideas in the past. Bobo, then an assistant at Georgia, visited Harsin when he was the offensive coordinator at Texas. Harsin went to Georgia, too.
— Boise State is tied for eighth in the nation with a plus-8 turnover margin. The Broncos have a 10-0 margin during their three-game win streak. “That’s the stat that matters most,” Harsin said. “Being top 10 in the country, we’re proud of that and that needs to continue.”
— On true freshman wide receiver Akilian Butler getting his first touch last week: “We’re playing the guy. It’s time for him to have an opportunity. ... The thing I appreciate the most about that play is Jeremy McNichols was in there and has the key cut block. Here’s a guy who is somewhere in the country statistically scoring (first) and he’s out there leading for a freshman to go get his first touchdown. That’s the whole point of having plays like that in the game — making sure everybody knows they have a chance to contribute.”
— On Rypien’s 21-yard TD throw to Thomas Sperbeck: “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.’ 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.”
— 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.”
— On holding Hawaii without a sack: “That was a big point of emphasis. We had challenged our guys about the sacks. It’s the O-line, it’s the running backs, it’s the quarterback, all working together.”
— 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.
— Defensive tackle Antoine Turner remains sidelined because of an academic eligibility issue.
DE Tyler Horn
— On the road: “When you’re not playing on the Blue, you’ve just got to be a little more focused. That’s something we’ve talked about already this week.”
— On the defense: “We’re extremely focused right now and it’s exciting because there’s still so much more we can do, so much more improvement we can make. So that’s really encouraging.”
— On room for improvement: “We have really good coaches and they don’t let anything slide. We’re not satisfied with where we’re at and I don’t think we ever will be. That’s why we’re just going to keep improving.”
— On his second chance at his senior season: “It’s just been really fun. This year has been probably one of the funnest years of football I’ve played. I’m just enjoying every moment of it. ... I love practice. I love the games. I love everything we’re doing right now as a defense.”
— On his first sack of the season: “It felt really good. I felt like I got the first one out of the way. It took a little longer than I wanted it to. It felt really good to get after the quarterback a little bit.”
LT Rees Odhiambo
— On explosive run plays vs. Hawaii: “It was really nice to get that going. That’s something we’ve been harping on for the past few weeks.”
— On the run game: “We started off really slow. I’m glad it’s starting to finally get somewhere and hopefully we can keep it up.”
— Odhiambo missed several plays against Hawaii. His helmet came off, so he had to leave for a play by rule, he said. But he also lost a contact and needed to replace it. The training staff keeps contacts for all players who wear them. “It’s weird when it happens,” Odhiambo said. His eyes, he said, are “really bad.”