The Boise State football team only practiced three times during its bye week, but the Broncos did so with intensity.
The Broncos practiced Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday — all in pads. They’re back in action Saturday at New Mexico (5 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
Players had Friday and Saturday off while coaches were out recruiting. Coach Bryan Harsin liked what he saw when the group got back together Sunday evening.
“The energy at practice was good,” Harsin said. “The vibe was good. That needs to carry on through the week and when we get out into the game we want to come out and start fast, come out and play the way we’ve been playing in the previous few games.”
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Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said the team should be able to maintain its rhythm and momentum from the three-game October win streak because much of the practice time during the bye was spent with first-teamers vs. first-teamers.
“Those practices are probably more spirited, more up-tempo and more lively (than during game weeks),” Sanford said. “ It was more challenging. It was more competitive. Yesterday’s practice was an outstanding practice. They came back ready to work.”
Other press conference notes and quotes (audio files below):
— He went out recruiting Thursday-Friday and let the coordinators run Thursday’s practice.
— The Broncos looked at their three October games to see where they needed to improve and tried to address those areas during the bye. It came down to basics — blocking, tackling and taking care of the football. “We may not have lost some fumbles but we put some balls on the ground,” Harsin said. “Tackling, that showed up in those three games. And then blocking, even on the perimeter, up front. We’ve whiffed. We’ve missed. Blocking, tackling and hanging onto the football are the keys to what we’re doing. In a positive way, we’ve seen some schemes in there that we have been able to do week to week that have shown up and been good for us. The coaches are coming back to those and adding little wrinkles here and there. We’re doing something that we’re comfortable with and building on that.”
— Senior safety Jeremy Ioane, who has missed four of the past five games because of illness, practiced Sunday and is expected to practice Tuesday, Harsin said. He has not practiced much on Tuesdays this year. “If he’s out there Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, he’s in the mix ready to go,” Harsin said.
— Harsin, who enjoys trick plays, appreciated the one Arkansas ran two weeks ago. A Razorbacks offensive lineman threw a touchdown pass to the long snapper on a fake field goal. “That is the most creative play I’ve ever seen,” Harsin said. “I don’t even want to duplicate that. Anybody who does, shame on them. As a trick-play guy, Arkansas deserves all that credit for the rest of history. I would love to just ask how they came up with it. I want to know.”
— Harsin had a joke prepared for his press conference about the cannon-caused false start in the BYU game, then forgot to use it. “I did call Peyton Manning and asked him exactly how he addressed that,” Harsin said, in reference to Manning’s famous remarks about the Broncos’ scoreboard operator a couple weeks ago. Harsin said he wasn’t mad at tight end Holden Huff because he jumped when the cannon fired, too.
— Senior wide receiver Matt Miller, already out for the year with an ankle injury, underwent surgery on his right thumb to fix an injury sustained early in the season.
QB Grant Hedrick
— “We’ve really focused on coming back with a lot of energy like we did against Fresno off our last bye week.”
— On WR Thomas Sperbeck’s speed: “He’s kind of deceptive. It was good to see that (against BYU). He got an opportunity to go and get in the open field. He showed that speed that I’ve seen before, but not a lot of people have.”
S Darian Thompson
— On New Mexico: “The offense that they run, it challenges us to be disciplined with our eyes.”
— On the defense: “I want to be a dominant defense. I want to see us jump up the rankings in the Mountain West Conference. We’re on a great path. Throughout the season, you’ve seen glimpses of us being dominant.”
OC Mike Sanford
— “The injury report just seems to improve every day.”
— The Broncos have put their defensive players through ball-security drills, too. Coaches took note when a Louisville defender fumbled on an interception return on a key play last week against Florida State.
— “Never in the sport of football has a championship been won in the month of October. Championships are going to be won in November across the college football landscape. This is championship month and we’re going to treat each day as a championship day.”
DC Marcel Yates
— He said scoring defense is a stat he keeps an eye on. The Broncos are 74th in the nation at 27.5 points per game. “We’d like to be around the 21, 20, points or less mark,” he said. “These next four games will be huge for us to see if we can stop the points.”
— “Our MO has been playing good defense but having those one or two (run) plays hit us. We’re trying to get that fixed. Earlier in the season, we did a good job of not having that one play as far as the run.”
The Nov. 15 home game against San Diego State will kick off at 8:15 p.m. and air on ESPNU, Boise State announced Monday.
It will be the Broncos’ third home game kicking off after 8 p.m. this season. The home finale against Utah State (Nov. 29) still doesn’t have a game time. The time for the Nov. 22 game at Wyoming also hasn’t been set.
Boise State doesn’t receive a TV bonus for the San Diego State game because it’s not on ESPN or ESPN2. The Broncos have earned $1.1 million so far and could get bonuses for the Wyoming and Utah State games.
New Mexico is 3-5 this season, but the Lobos have only lost one game by more than 11 points — a 58-23 loss to Arizona State on Sept. 6. They rank fourth in the nation in rushing (304 yards per game) and have played better on defense recently.
Junior quarterback Cole Gautsche likely will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury, coach Bob Davie said on the radio this week. Redshirt freshman Lamar Jordan has been playing part time for weeks and has played well.
Forgot my tripod today, so no video. But I do have audio from today’s press conference participants:
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