It looks like the Jay Train will get his wish.
Boise State junior tailback Jay Ajayi said last month that it would be cool to see the fans join in his touchdown celebration, an arm motion that mimics pulling a train whistle.
The athletic department will encourage participation beginning Friday night against Fresno State (6 p.m., ESPN). A train whistle sound will be played when Ajayi scores — and, if it arrives in time, there will be an accompanying graphics package on the video board.
“It’s just the Jay Train getting it cranking,” Ajayi said of his celebration. “ I’m the conductor.”
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(For more on the celebration, watch the video above.)
Ajayi has been terrific at home since becoming the starter last year. Here are his stats:
UT Martin (first Jay Train celebration): 80 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Air Force: 125 rushing yards, 4 TDs
Southern Miss: 83 rushing yards, 1 TD
Nevada: 222 rushing yards, 9 receiving, 3 TDs
Wyoming: 70 rushing yards, 3 receiving, 3 TDs
New Mexico: 147 rushing yards, 105 receiving, 2 TDs
Colorado State: 219 rushing yards, 61 receiving, 3 TDs
Louisiana: 150 rushing yards, 37 receiving, 3 TDs
Totals (in 8 games)
Rushing yards: 1,096 (137 per game)
Receiving yards: 215 (26.9 per game)
Yards from scrimmage: 1,311 (163.9 per game)
(By comparison, on the road he has 94.4 rushing yards per game and eight touchdowns in 11 games.)
As of late Thursday afternoon, Boise State had distributed 33,700 tickets for the game. The Fresno State game drew 35,742 fans in 2012, so this game could end up in the same vicinity.
The Mountain West announced Friday that Sports Authority will serve as the first title sponsor of the football championship game. The Sports Authority Mountain West Football Championship is Dec. 6.
The sponsorship was sold by Learfield but the Mountain West will receive additional revenue, the conference office confirmed. The amount has not been determined.
The Mountain West’s first football conference championship game last year netted about $1,060,000. Utah State played at Fresno State.
Perhaps the most intriguing player in Friday’s game is Boise State true freshman running back/wide receiver Jeremy McNichols. He gained 82 yards on five touches in his college debut against Nevada and now coaches have had two weeks to figure out how to utilize him.
He splits time between the wide receivers and running backs. He committed to Utah as a receiver but signed with Boise State as a tailback.
“He just gives us another guy we can get the ball to and give us some more explosive plays,” wide receivers coach Junior Adams said. “Jeremy originally committed to play receiver somewhere else. He was a receiver until his senior year (of high school). He kind of still has that in his blood a little bit, in his system. Jeremy is a phenomenal athlete. To go play receiver, go play running back, go play receiver — for a kid his age, that says a lot and it tells you how smart he is.
“His role is going to continue to grow.”
One way Boise State expects to compensate for the loss of all-time leading receiver Matt Miller is by spreading the ball around more.
The Broncos utilized nine different receivers in the loss at Air Force, the game in which Miller was injured in the second quarter. Two of them — wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, Miller’s replacement, and tight end Alec Dhaenens — did not have a previous catch this season.
They used nine receivers again against Nevada, adding McNichols and wide receiver Troy Ware to the mix (Miller and Dhaenens didn’t have catches).
Quarterback Grant Hedrick and his coaches say he makes truer reads without Miller on the field because he sometimes would throw to Miller even if the look wasn’t perfect.
“A lot of those looks were actually good to throw to Matt but maybe not the most ideal look,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. “Those kind of situations are where you see Grant now be able to look purely from a distributor standpoint and get the football where he needs to get it. He had a great comfort level with Matt. I had a good comfort level with Matt out there as well.
“When (backup quarterback Ryan) Finley was in there against Air Force, Matt was not in there. You got to see Finley spread the ball around a little bit. It was good for the other guys to make plays and for Grant to see that. That paid big dividends for our program going into the Nevada game.”
— Sophomore right tackle Steven Baggett on the offensive line: “I think we’ve played pretty well. I don’t think we’re where we need to be. We can get better.”
— Senior defensive end Beau Martin on the end of the Nevada game: “I was thankful to have that last shot to go out there and help the team. That was it for us. The team needed us. We needed to step up.”
— Sanford on how coaches try to build on Finley’s playing time vs. Air Force: “We hold him to a higher standard now. ‘We’ve seen what you can do now. Now, practice like that all the time. Show us you’re capable of that.’ ”
Fresno State at Boise State
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387 , FieldTurf)
TV: ESPN (Dave Flemming, David Diaz-Infante, Allison Williams)
Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
Records: Boise State is 4-2 overall, 2-1 Mountain West; Fresno State is 3-4, 2-1.
Series: Boise State leads 11-5 (Fresno State won 41-40 last year in Fresno)
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