The Boise State football team held its Spring Game on Saturday night at Albertsons Stadium. Here’s a recap with notes, stats and video interviews:
First-team offense – Cory Young 17 run (Tyler Rausa kick), 2:02. Key play: Ryan Finley dropped a gorgeous deep ball into wide receiver Chaz Anderson’s hands for 46 yards. Drive: 3 plays, 65 yards.
Second-team offense – Shane Williams-Rhodes 99 kickoff return (Rausa kick), 2:02. (It was against the scout team.)
First-team offense – Rausa 32 field goal, :48. Key plays: Finley hit tight end Jake Roh for 29 yards and 18 yards and wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck for 12. Drive: 9 plays, 59 yards.
First-team offense – Devan Demas 7 run (Rausa kick), 2:50. Key plays: Thomas Sperbeck made a 20-yard catch on a pass from Tommy Stuart. Young added a 25-yard run and Ryan Wolpin gained 2 yards on fourth-and-1. Drive: 9 plays, 73 yards.
Second-team offense – Taylor Pope 43 pass from Alex Ogle (Blake Gonzalez kick), 7:30. Key plays: Tight ends David Lucero (11 yards) and Chase Blakley (15) made catches. Drive: 9 plays, 75 yards.
Sophomore Ryan Finley, the front-runner for the starting job, spent the entire first half of the scrimmage with the first team. Sophomore Tommy Stuart ran the first team in the second half. True freshman Brett Rypien led the second team for most of the first half and for one drive in the second half. Redshirt freshman Alex Ogle directed the second team twice in the first half and once in the second half. The first-teamers played against the second-team defense and the second-teamers played against the first-team defense. Here’s how the QBs fared:
The group’s combined rating was 115.99, which is not good (the team rating was 154.96 last year).
Finley was at 117.86, Rypien 93.09, Stuart 115.67 and Ogle 146.40. Ogle’s rating was inflated by the long TD pass.
About three passes should have been intercepted but were dropped. Two of them were thrown by Ogle. The other was thrown by Ogle or Rypien (missed it in my notes).
The easy takeaway: Finley is the leader in the quarterback derby. Stuart is No. 2, with Rypien and Ogle jockeying for the third spot.
“(Finley) has done well,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “He’s put himself in position to have the most experience out of those guys. The guy who was ready to play (last year). And he has improved and he’s taken advantage of that. The other guys, I think Tommy Stuart, from where he was when he got here to where he is now, is a lot better. Just his approach, his leadership, the way he’s playing. Brett Rypien showed me today that he’s gotten better. He stood in the pocket, made some plays, made mistakes, wasn’t perfect. But the things we’ve asked him to do that we’ve looked at, he’s gotten better. Alex Ogle, he can spin it. Today, he managed it better. Was every throw perfect? No, but his management has improved. ... But I like where Ryan is at. He understands what we’re trying to accomplish. He’s been in the fire, so to speak. Now what does he do this summer? How does he take advantage of that. Come fall, the first few practices, how does he take advantage of that.”
Offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz was pleased to see three of the four quarterbacks lead touchdown drives.
“That’s always a good measuring stick of where you’re going,” Drinkwitz said. “We created some explosive plays.”
The competition remains open, Drinkwitz said, but Finley handled his opportunity well.
“I’m encouraged by the way Ryan has handled the situation,” Drinkwitz said. “I was encouraged by the fact he was able to convert some third-and-longs. We were behind the chains it felt like most of the first half. ... We’d like to score right before half instead of kick a field goal, but he did some good things.”
Coaches put some pressure on the quarterbacks during the spring to prepare them for the fall. Finley, who played the fourth quarter last year at Air Force, is the only quarterback with game experience.
“We approached it like every rep was a game rep,” Drinkwitz said. “A sense of urgency in everything we did. You have to recreate that urgency with every rep, every throw. ... You have to make sure they feel that urgency.”
For a week, the quarterbacks were live in practice – able to be hit. That covered four practices.
“Everybody came out of that healthy,” Drinkwitz said. “Nobody shied away from (contact). I’m proud of them for that. We put them in some tough situations, but by no means are we where we need to be.”
Redshirt freshman tailback Cory Young took advantage of a depleted tailback corps and had a terrific scrimmage. The Broncos only used three tailbacks with senior Jack Fields and sophomore Jeremy McNichols sidelined with injuries. McNichols is recovering from hernia surgery and did some drills in spring. Fields strained his back in the weight room and was held out of the scrimmage.
Young rushed 11 times for 68 yards and a touchdown. He had a long of 25 yards. He also caught four passes for 16 yards.
“I thought today was one of his better performances,” Harsin said. “Cory is a guy that runs extremely hard. ... If we’ll do a good job in front of him of keeping guys covered up, he’ll bounce off his teammates until he finds a crease. He did that tonight. He broke a couple tackles. He’s got speed.”
Meanwhile, junior Devan Demas had a rough night. Demas rushed seven times for 19 yards and a touchdown and lost two fumbles inside the opponent 25-yard line.
“I’m disappointed in the fumbles,” Drinkwitz said. “That’s got to get cleaned up and cleaned up in a hurry.”
The other tailback in the scrimmage was walk-on Ryan Wolpin, who carried seven times for 5 yards and had three catches for 8 yards.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver A.J. Richardson led the team with seven catches for 52 yards. He made four catches for 24 yards on the opening drive against the first-team defense.
Richardson grayshirted and redshirted so he hasn’t played since 2012.
“He had a really good spring coming up to spring break and then was just kind of OK for a week,” Drinkwitz said. “For him to step up today was nice. Some big-time grabs. A.J.’s a guy who’s got to come along for us.”
Senior wide receiver Troy Ware was on crutches at the scrimmage because of an injury sustained in practice. His status for this season hasn’t been determined. He was the only experienced backup.
“At this point right now, we’ve got to figure that out,” coach Bryan Harsin said of Ware’s status. “We’re working on those things.”
Ware made 12 catches last year.
Sophomore wide receiver Tanner Shipley has retired for medical reasons, Harsin said. Shipley played in four games last season.
Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates has become the safeties and nickels coach. Defensive backs coach Julius Brown coaches cornerbacks. They hold separate meetings.
Last year, the entire group was under Brown’s direction. Yates was a defensive backs coach from 2006 to 2013 at Boise State and Texas A&M before he became a coordinator.
The split should help the group, Yates said. Each position will get more instruction on its specific techniques.
“As a first-year coordinator, I was spending more time kind of game-planning and spending more time on how I wanted to do things,” Yates said. “Now that I have a better feel of how to do that ... actually having a chance to coach a position will help out our defense a ton.”
Harsin addressed the arrest of tailback signee Raymond Sheard, who won’t be joining the team.
“It’s tough because you build a relationship with a young man,” Harsin said. “Unfortunately, people make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are so big that it hurts them and it did in this situation – and that’s not the standard that we have for our players or we have for our program. At the same time, we wish him the very best. Hopefully he gets the help that he needs, gets people that will be there for him and gets an opportunity again, a chance in life to better himself. And that’s not easy.”
– Senior safety Darian Thompson: “Kamalei Correa is one monster of a defensive end. He’s been doing a really good job. ... (Wide receiver) Chaz Anderson. Shane Williams-Rhodes – a possession receiver, a little wiggly guy. The quarterbacks have been doing a really good job taking control of the team and making sure we’re headed in the right direction.”
– Senior center Marcus Henry: “On the offensive line, Steven Baggett – he’s playing right guard. He’s done an awesome job stepping in for Mario (Yakoo). All of our quarterbacks and running backs, it’s awesome to see. It’s an open competition so they’re fighting as hard as they can for that spot.”
– Yates: “Jonathan Moxey, he was a guy that I thought got better.”
– Drinkwitz: “(Tight end) Jake Roh stood out to me in a big way (in the scrimmage).”
The scrimmage was played in a rainstorm, which led to some poor ballhandling.
“That’s one of those things we don’t get a lot of opportunity to work in is weather,” Harsin said. “Today was a perfect opportunity. ... There were a few turnovers we didn’t get because of that.”
– Harsin on the defense: “It’s difficult to move the ball on them and it’s been that way in spring. Consistency, from the defensive side, has shown up. ... We need more consistency on the offensive side. That’s natural.”
– Senior safety Darian Thompson on the defense: “I trust all the guys in front of me. Those are some playmakers. They continue to improve every single day. I’m proud of them. We can be one dominant defense and we’re just going to continue to work toward that.”
– Thompson: “Me, personally, it’s hard for me to be content. I always want to get better. There’s always those things I can improve on and work hard. As a defense, I’m happy where we are.”
– Senior center Marcus Henry on the summer: “We just need to grind. We’ve got to get better every day. We’re on the right track, but if we don’t get better every day it’s not going to end up how we want it to end up.”
– Yates on defense: “It’s about making them drive the football field. Don’t give up the big play. Don’t give up the play to where they catch it and then score the touchdown. Even if they get some yards, you want to make them earn every yard. We want to limit our explosive plays.”
– Finley started with the first-team offense vs. the second-team defense. He completed a 39-yard pass to Roh on third-and-14 but the drive stalled on a Demas fumble.
– Rypien got the first snaps with the second-team offense against the first-team defense. He was 7-for-8 for 44 yards with three first downs.
– Finley and the first-team offense failed on fourth down on their own side of the field on their second drive. The defense held against Rypien and Tyler Horn blocked Tyler Rausa’s 47-yard field-goal attempt.
– Horn started at end, Sam McCaskill at tackle and Armand Nance at nose on the defensive line.
– Demas lost another fumble in the second quarter.
– Young looked good. He had seven carries for 36 yards and a TD and three catches for 12 yards in the first half.
– Finley was 13-for-25 for 196 yards in the first half. Rypien was 9-for-12 for 48 yards. Ogle was 1-for-4 for 8 yards.
– Richardson had seven catches for 52 yards in the first half.
Moore spoke to the media before he was honored by the school at the Spring Game. Some highlights:
– On the honor: “It’s obviously fun. It’s a cool opportunity. Obviously it’s nice that it works that a lot of guys are coming back this weekend, so you get to see a lot of guys that were a part of it. That’s probably the most fun part.”
– On coach Bryan Harsin: “He’s a big part of what I was able to accomplish. I thank him a lot.”
– On possible number retirement: “Oh, I don’t care.”
– On the video tribute: “Just a sappy tribute to make me feel old. It will be fun. We’ll see what they have in it. Hopefully not too many cheesy moments.”
– On quarterback competitions: “It’s a long process. This is phase one of it. Then you’ve got summer and fall camp. It’s what you do the next few months that probably has a bigger indication than just this spring ball.”
– On returning to the Lions: “We’ve been fortunate to be there for three years. They’ve invested three years in me. I appreciate that and I’m excited to go back and continue to progress from what we’ve been able to accomplish in three years.”
(Harsin, during tribute video: "When we think of No. 11, there's really only one thing that comes to mind, and that's Kellen Moore.")
(Moore, addressing the crowd, mentioned his son Kyler: “We’ve got a little future Bronco.”)
Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin addressed the Broncos on Friday after practice. He was an NFL first-round draft pick in 2012.
His message: “Enjoy the opportunity. Don’t take it for granted. A lot of people would give a lot to be where they’re at right now. Don’t get complacent. Always strive for greatness. Work hard every day. It takes hard work and sacrifice to get to great places.”
The soft-spoken McClellin has offered to speak whenever he is needed, he said. He lives in Irvine, Calif., in the offseason but spends a couple weeks in Idaho to visit his family. He’s from Marsing.
“I’m not known for (speaking),” McClellin said, “but it’s something I’m trying to work on.”
This is a year of change for McClellin. He and wife Samantha have a 4-month-old son, Declan.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world, to have someone depending on you every day,” he said.
And on Monday, McClellin reports to work with a new coaching staff in Chicago. He’s changing positions again, to middle linebacker. He played defensive end in 2012-13 and weak-side linebacker in 2014.
“It’s crazy,” he said of the position changes. “That’s the way it goes. I’m the kind of guy that whatever they want me to do I’ll do it. I’m not going to complain.”
The offense wore blue, the defense orange, the specialists gray and the quarterbacks black, leaving just the white uniforms unused. The Broncos wore white helmets with the university’s “B” logo. ... Current and future pro former Broncos on hand were honored before the game, too: cornerback Jamar Taylor, offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr., cornerback Orlando Scandrick, safety Jeron Johnson, tailback Doug Martin, safety Winston Venable, defensive lineman Mike Atkinson, tailback Jay Ajayi and quarterback Grant Hedrick. ... The first quarter was 11 minutes in honor of Moore. The second quarter was 10 minutes. ... Attendance: 10,072. ... Sean Wale booted a 66-yard punt.
Jordin Sparks performing in No. 11 jersey pic.twitter.com/vTWglp61XX— Bronco Beat (@IDS_BroncoBeat) April 12, 2015