SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin will coach in a bowl game for the first time in three years Wednesday at the Fiesta Bowl.
He missed Texas’ trip to the Alamo Bowl in 2012 while making the transition to Arkansas State. He was the co-offensive coordinator at Texas and the head coach at Arkansas State.
He missed Arkansas State’s trip to the GoDaddy Bowl in 2013 (the game was actually in 2014) while moving to Boise State.
Both of his former teams won without him.
His last bowl game was the 2011 Holiday Bowl with Texas. The Longhorns beat California 21-10. The last time a team Harsin was involved with lost a bowl game was Boise State’s 2008 Poinsettia Bowl loss to TCU.
Harsin said he talked about his bowl drought recently with his wife.
“I got some (bowl) gifts,” he said Tuesday at the final pre-game press conference. “I haven’t gotten those in two years, so my family is happy. It’s good to be back in a game. Those two years of not being in one, to be in this one, that’s an easy trade-off.”
The Broncos will take their first look inside University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale today. They play the Arizona Wildcats at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
“I think it’s important to go in there and let those guys sit down, visualize, kick it around, let the quarterbacks find the clocks, really put it all in perspective, what we’ve done this season, where we are right now,” Harsin said. “ Let’s look around today. Tomorrow, we run out there, we’re focused on doing our jobs.”
Other highlights from Harsin’s press conference:
— On practice: “I thought we had a really great week of practice just fine-tuning all the details. We’ve enjoyed ourselves but we came here to play in a game. We came here to play against a top-10 team, Arizona, and put our best performance on the field on the biggest stage of the year.”
— Boise State held a “Bronco Bowl” with a trophy for young players before leaving Boise.
— Harsin’s concerns with the 25-day layoff: “Speed. Week to week when you play, you’re kind of used to the speed of who you’re going to play against. Arizona is a very fast football team, we know that. We’ve done as much as we can to simulate the speed. We practice fast. We try to simulate their tempo the best we can. The better prepared we are, the faster we can play, and we need to do that. In games you haven’t played in sequence, you worry about special teams a little bit. You’re seeing in these bowl games now where special teams is a factor. You see turnovers and tackling. Those three things right there are big. And the last one when you have this much time off is your conditioning.”
— On how his role is different as head coach: “My job really has been motivating these guys to stay focused. That really hasn’t been that difficult to be honest with you. They want to go out there and perform their best.”
— On Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, the national defensive player of the year who wasn’t offered a scholarship after attending Boise State’s camp in 2011 and 2012: “I wish I’d have been there three years ago when he was on Boise State’s campus. He’s a fantastic player.”
— On the Fiesta Bowl: “I bet if you ask, 95 percent of our team will say the reason why they came to Boise State is because of the Fiesta Bowl and watching our team play in it. I know what this game can do for us. I know how powerful it is.”
— On watching Arizona: “You want to look at the teams that they got after because you want to make sure you’re not one of those teams. You look at the games they lost and why. They will not quit. They fight.”
— On senior quarterback Grant Hedrick and junior tailback Jay Ajayi playing their last games: “At yesterday’s practice, toward the end of it as it was winding down, you could see some guys taking it all in and looking around shaking each other’s hands, high-fiving, smiling, knowing they were done. We’re done with practice and maybe they were just celebrating that, I don’t know. That’s what today is about, too. Today is about going in there and absorbing your career as a senior and looking at it like, ‘You know what, we’ve got to where we are now, we’re excited, but it’s not over. Tomorrow we have 3 ½ hours to go play this one last time.’ I think these guys will handle that appropriately. What we want as coaches is we want those guys to have their very best performance and walk off there proud, whatever happens, but to be proud of what they’ve done throughout their career.”
Arizona’s roster is loaded with players who started their college careers somewhere else.
The Wildcats have transfers from Texas (most notably wide receiver Cayleb Jones), Notre Dame (wide receiver DaVonte’ Neal), Virginia Tech, Air Force, LSU, Northwestern/UNLV, BYU, Boise State (defensive lineman Jeff Worthy) and a host of small colleges.
“We’ve got a bunch of misfits, coaches included,” coach Rich Rodriguez said at Tuesday’s Fiesta Bowl press conference. “It’s a band of misfits. We have a kind of environment that welcomes guys like that but they have to adjust to us. We’re still going to build the program on high school recruits. To have a few extra guys from different backgrounds or different situations, I’ve always been able to have a few that have been able to help, and this year’s no different.”
Check out our photographers’ work from the week, mostly from the hustling Kyle Green.
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