Alec Dhaenens, TE
In one game, the junior doubled his production from the previous two seasons. At Louisiana on Saturday, he had five catches for 40 yards, after posting four catches for 26 yards as a sophomore and freshman.
The Fruitland High grad has welcomed the uptick in activity in the passing game, albeit coming with junior Jake Roh’s absence in the opener with an injury. He had three catches his senior year of high school in 2012 before a season-ending injury, so those five catches represent production that was a long time coming.
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“It felt good to be part of the offense again, getting the ball, making yards and contributing on third downs,” Dhaenens said. “They asked me to step up for the job, and I got it done for them.”
Darren Lee, LB
The senior saw some of his most extensive action at Louisiana, making four tackles and nearly coming away with an interception after stepping in for starter Joe Martarano after he left in the first quarter with a knee injury. Lee is the Broncos’ special teams leader, carrying The Hammer seven times in his career, a testament to his hard-hitting abilities.
“Whenever he’s in the game, he’s going to give his all,” senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo said. “... I’ve seen him break a helmet before. He runs down there, and he’ll sacrifice for the team.
“I see him come off and his face mask is off the side, he’s screaming and hollering, it gets me ready to go.”
Alexander Mattison, RB
Boise State coaches were committed to getting Mattison some carries in his collegiate debut, and the 5-11, 206-pound true freshman more than earned them with a team-high 11 carries for 61 yards at Louisiana.
“He’s going to be a great ballplayer,” co-offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “He’s fun to watch, he’s picking things up, too.
“We’ll expect more and more out of him as the weeks go along. ... He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Luke Falk, QB
The junior from Logan, Utah, seized the starting job late in 2014 after walking on the previous year. He’s established himself as one of the nation’s most prolific quarterbacks, throwing for 4,566 yards last season in 12 games. He threw for 418 yards in the Cougars’ opener, completing 41-of-51 passes with four touchdowns to one interception.
“He’s a really good player. ... (Falk) knows it in and out, he makes great decisions, he has a good arm and is very accurate with his passes,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.
Gabe Marks, WR
He’s not the biggest target at 6-foot, 190 pounds, but he is one of the best around. Marks had a school-record 104 receptions last season as a junior and added 15 touchdowns. Marks had 10 receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns against Eastern Washington last Saturday. His 237 career catches and 2,667 yards are in the top five among active FBS receivers.
“He goes 100 percent in practice, and he shows what you’re going to get on the field on Saturday,” Falk said. “He wants to be the guy that makes the play, he wants the ball in his hands.”
Shalom Luani, S
A 6-foot, 205-pound senior from American Samoa, Luani was suspended for the Cougars’ opener after he was arrested in August for allegedly breaking a man’s nose outside a pizza restaurant. Coach Mike Leach said he will play Saturday, and he will be a boost for the Cougars. His 90 tackles last season were third on the team and his four interceptions were tops.
“He’s an established player. ... He’s one of the guys we have that kind of stabilizes it back there,” Leach said.