Thomas Sperbeck’s name has been hot since spring — and on Saturday night at Air Force he showed why.
The Boise State sophomore wide receiver made six catches for a team-high 79 yards against the Falcons, including the Broncos’ catch of the year (on offense, at least — watch the video above).
Teammates and coaches have raved about Sperbeck but he backs up stars Shane Williams-Rhodes in the slot and Matt Miller on the outside.
Sperbeck had five catches for 40 yards last season and didn’t have a catch in the first four games this season.
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“There’s a guy that we’ve seen a lot of things from in practice, a lot of things from in scrimmage situations,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. “When we’re a completely healthy receiver group, he didn’t have quite as many opportunities.”
Sperbeck’s most notable play was a 31-yard catch on a fade route down the left sideline. The ball from redshirt freshman Ryan Finley was thrown over his outside shoulder, as the quarterbacks are taught, but Sperbeck didn’t locate it until the last second. He flipped his hands from inside to outside and snagged the ball just as it arrived.
“That catch was one of the most unbelievable catches I’ve ever seen,” Sanford said.
Added coach Bryan Harsin: “I don’t know how he caught it — and maybe he doesn’t either.”
Sperbeck is a former high school quarterback and the son of former Sacramento State coach Marshall Sperbeck, who resigned in the spring. Marshall played quarterback at Nevada in 1981-82.
Sperbeck originally was slated to play safety at Boise State but moved to wide receiver and played sparingly as a true freshman.
He said he saw an opportunity when Miller was injured during Saturday’s game and took advantage of it. Sperbeck had been practicing behind Miller in recent weeks because of the injury to Troy Ware.
It’s unclear whether Miller, who has an ankle injury, will be able to play Saturday at Nevada.
“It felt really great to be out there and really contribute to the team,” Sperbeck said. “ (Patience) has definitely been important, just waiting on my time to go in and contribute.”
His 31-yard catch set up the Broncos’ second touchdown. The plan is to run the route 5 yards from the sideline, leaving room for the quarterback to drop the ball between the receiver and the sideline.
The ball was a bit underthrown and Sperbeck whipped his hands around just in time to make the catch.
“I didn’t really see it, to be honest,” he said. “It just fell in my hands.”
You can watch Sperbeck’s catch in the video above and decide if it’s better than last week’s spectacular catch, by cornerback Donte Deayon (below).
Boise State at Nevada
When: 8:34 p.m. MT Saturday
Where: Mackay Stadium (30,000, FieldTurf), Reno, Nev.
TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, Adam Archuleta, Cassie Gallo)
Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
Records: Boise State is 3-2 overall, 1-1 Mountain West; Nevada is 3-1, 1-0
Series: Boise State leads 27-13 (Boise State won 34-17 last year in Boise)
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