The Boise State wide receiver corps showed flashes of depth last week against Colorado State — a trait that will be important as the Broncos go through the rigors of the season.
Junior Troy Ware made two catches for 25 yards and senior Dallas Burroughs made two catches for 27 yards against Colorado State. Sophomore Thomas Sperbeck also made a 20-yard catch at the goal line but was out of bounds.
Senior Matt Miller (eight catches, 150 yards, TD) and junior Shane Williams-Rhodes (four, 63) still carried the bulk of the load, but it was better than the opener when they had all 20 wide receiver catches.
Ware missed about a week of fall camp with a hip injury and still is shaking the effects.
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“Those guys deserved to get out there,” Adams said of the non-star wide receivers. “Troy Ware, we wish we could have played more in week one. He came back and had a good week of practice and we rewarded him with some more playing time and he played well for us.”
Ware made 10 catches last season, his first as a regular contributor. He knew going into fall camp there was a need for a third receiver to produce, which made his injury particularly frustrating.
“Right when that happened, I knew it was probably going to take a while and I knew the consequences of that,” he said.
He hopes to help take some pressure off Miller and Williams-Rhodes. That duo has combined for 32 of the wide receivers’ 36 catches this season (89 percent).
“We need to step up because those guys can only do so much,” Ware said. “They’re going to get dinged up here and there. That’s really what we’re trying to do is take some of the load off of them so they’re not out there stressing too much, but we’re going to need them to carry a lot of the weight.”
Adams still wants to get sophomore Chaz Anderson, the converted cornerback, more involved. He was open on an underthrown deep ball against Ole Miss but does not have a catch this season. Freshmen Tanner Shipley and D.J. Dean could get chances later in the season.
Anderson has pulled double duty this week with two jerseys. He’s primarily a wide receiver with a white jersey, but he’s taking reps at cornerback in an orange jersey to provide emergency depth on defense.
“I manage him just like a receiver,” Adams said. “He’s in the receiver room. He’s learning what we’ve got going on this week install-wise. He and I have talked. He’s about the team and whatever’s best for the team, he’ll do.”
Anderson was a cornerback until Aug. 1, so those skills and techniques are still fresh in his mind.
“Really, receiver is where he has to keep progressing, has to keep learning,” Adams said. “DB is a little second nature to him right now.”
Other wide receiver notes:
— Coaches pushed the wide receivers to produce more yards after the catch last week, and they did. “I want to turn 5-yard hitches into 60-yard gains,” Adams said. “Like Shane, he caught the seam ball and ran it about 40 yards down the field. I want him to score. That’s the standard and that’s the bar we have set in that room.” Added Williams-Rhodes: “It was kind of cool, making plays in space — we did way better with that.”
— Miller, Adams said, is “setting the standard of being a Bronco.” Coaches gave Miller a ball to commemorate his school record for career receptions, set last week. Adams congratulated him on the sideline. “And he said, ‘All right, thank you,’ and then shrugged it off,” Adams said. “That’s Matt. I don’t even know if he said thank you. Matt sees the bigger picture here. Matt’s all about being a team player and winning ballgames.”
— Williams-Rhodes said receivers have to run their routes slightly differently to avoid slipping on a grass field like the one at Connecticut’s stadium. “You’ve just got to be a little more controlled on the grass,” he said.
Here is a story on Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford’s history in Connecticut — he’s a former Yale assistant.
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