Boise State senior quarterback Grant Hedrick will serve as the Broncos’ offensive captain for the rest of the season, coach Bryan Harsin said Sunday.
Hedrick replaces injured wide receiver Matt Miller — his roommate. Hedrick began that role with Friday’s game against Fresno State.
Boise State plays BYU at 7 p.m. Friday at Albertsons Stadium (ESPN).
In player voting for captains before the season, “Grant was right there” with Miller, Harsin said.
Miller, who had surgery Monday to repair an ankle ligament, was expected to watch Friday’s game from the recruiting lounge. At some point, he made his way to the sideline.
“That’s Matt for you,” Harsin said. “He was going crazy, so he wanted to come down to provide encouragement.”
Other notes from Sunday’s press conference:
— Senior cornerback Mercy Maston is working with the scout team and will redshirt this season unless he’s needed. Maston was injured for the first six games. “We’d like to have him back playing for us next year,” Harsin said. “And I know he’s like to, too.” Maston joins senior tackles Tyler Horn and Justin Taimatuia as veteran players redshirting because of injuries. The Broncos also will add tackle Deuce Mataele, another senior, next year. He is practicing but ineligible to play this season because of an NCAA academic suspension.
— Boise State’s players of the game against Fresno State were tailback Jay Ajayi (offense), linebacker Blake Renaud (defense), kicker Dan Goodale (special teams; with honorable mention for holder Sean Wale on the last field goal), left tackle Archie Lewis (offensive line) and tackle Elliot Hoyte (defensive line).
— Harsin on BYU’s defense: “We’ve got to do a great job preparing our quarterbacks and wide receivers to see a lot of different looks in the back end and then we’ve got to get our O-line prepared. They’re going to see pressure against some very good players. There are some one-on-one matchups we’re going to have to win.”
— Junior starting left tackle Rees Odhiambo played against Fresno State after missing four games due to injury. Lewis, a redshirt freshman, started and played his best game. That sets up some uncertainty on the offensive line. “Rees is going to play again,” Harsin said. “There’s competition at that position. Archie has stepped up and he’s made plays and we expect Archie to play. We’ll have to figure this out as it goes.” One option is to shuffle the line and allow Lewis and Odhiambo to play. Lewis was competing at right guard in fall camp before he got injured, so he conceivably could play any of four spots. “We’ll find the best ways to get the best players on the field,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. “The offensive line is no exception. The thing we did in camp was have guys cross-train at different positions. You want to build that continuity but we’re going to get the best five on the field.”
— The Broncos also have decisions to make on defense. Renaud has played great at middle linebacker with middle linebacker Tanner Vallejo sliding over to nickel and nickel Corey Bell dropping back to safety. Senior safety Jeremy Ioane, a three-year starter, returned in a part-time role against Fresno State. That gives the Broncos four of their top defensive players competing for three jobs. “It’s a game of chess,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said. “And I don’t quite have it figured out as to who’s going to be back and where we’re going to go with it.”
— Harsin: “Any time you play BYU, it’s a physical game, so we’ve got to prepare ourselves for that.”
— Harsin on ball security: “We may do that one basic fundamental as much as anything we do.” The Broncos fumbled three more times against Fresno State, but only lost one.
— Harsin on the 12-year series with BYU: “It makes a whole lot of sense that we play, it really does. One, I think you’ve got two good football teams. I think the fan base for both and the proximity and all that is strong. To me, it makes sense.”
— Sanford said the Broncos had a missed assignment on tailback Jay Ajayi’s 2-yard run on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter against Fresno State. “Jay made a tremendous run,” Sanford said. “He had a corner at his feet that was unblocked. That’s something we’ve got to clean up. The one thing you did see in that drive and in that game was tremendous effort. That was the best our offensive line had played all year.”
— Sanford: “There’s a ton of parity in this conference. I love that we’ve been in some games where we’re in it late. Long gone are the days where we’re going to show up and win by 50. It just doesn’t happen. This is a good conference. Each team presents good issues.” Boise State won 11 WAC games by at least 50 points from 2001 to 2010. The Broncos have won one Mountain West game by 50. That was the program’s MW debut in 2011 at Colorado State.
— Sanford said he joked with the backup quarterbacks that they may have to compete with wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, who was 2-for-2 against Fresno State and decided not to throw a contested pass on a third trick play. “He showed all five characteristics (coaches want in a quarterback),” Sanford said. “It was fun to see that.” The qualities the Broncos seek: toughness, preparation, decision-making, accuracy and leadership.
— Sanford on using Sperbeck more in the future: “Obviously it will be more difficult. Any time he’s in a unique situation or a unique spot or he’s in a weird split, there’s going to be some red flags go up. You just have to be creative.”
— Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates on BYU: “They’re big and tall on the outside. That can cause a whole lot of headaches.”
— Defensive end Beau Martin, on facing the BYU team that beat the Broncos 37-20 last year: “That was frustrating to go out there and not really have a shot in the fourth quarter. Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do this week.”
— Martin on BYU quarterback Christian Stewart, who replaced the injured Taysom Hill: “Nobody is Taysom Hill. That guy is a playmaker and he’s a bruiser. This guy does a really good job, though. He passes the ball well and when they ask him to run, he runs well. He played well against UCF the week before (Nevada). He’s prepared and he’s got some momentum going.”
— Martin on the 2012 game against BYU in Boise (7-6 Broncos win): “I remember that was the loudest it’s ever been in my four years here. That was a fun atmosphere.”
— Ajayi on his performance against Fresno State: “We knew going into the game we were going to have to grind it out on the ground, take what we can get. Hopefully they’ll break later on in the game, and they did.”
— Ajayi: “It’s been really interesting these past couple of games. We haven’t really been breaking a lot of big runs early in the game. It’s teaching me a lot about patience and being persistent.”
— Ajayi on leaving the field for the reverse pass that gave the Broncos the winning touchdown: “I knew what play it was. It’s a package deal. I was just excited to see if we could pull it off, and we did.”
— Ajayi on the fan interaction with his touchdown celebration: “It’s amazing. The love of Bronco Nation, the love of Boise State, I couldn’t ask for anything else. For that to happen, it was a great feeling. I was excited when I got in the end zone because I knew I’d get it cranking and I was excited to see the fans get into it as well.”
— Ajayi on his home success (23 touchdowns in nine games as the starter): “Playing in front of this great crowd, playing for this great university, I just want to do my best. It’s been interesting seeing the stats at home just because of how crazy they are. I would like to also bring that to the away games, too. We have away games also. I want to be able to do great at both. That’s something I’m definitely looking at and something I need to prove to myself.”
— On left guard Travis Averill grabbing the ball as Ajayi reached it into the end zone: “I was joking with Travis that he tried to take my touchdown away. I said, ‘You can have it.’ ”
— Ajayi: “It’s been an enjoyable season just to see how my role has developed from last year. I love the fact I’m more interactive in the passing game. It’s something over the summer that I worked on. I really put time in to be a good, viable threat in the passing game. To see that show up on the field is rewarding for myself as well as great for my team because it adds another threat out there for them to have to key on.”
— Ajayi on the team: “There’s a lot of work to do and we have a lot more improving to do before we reach our full potential. I feel like our ceiling is very high and we still have a lot to show.”
Email me at email@example.com.