Boise State Football

Key matchup: Boise State receivers vs. Oregon State defensive backs

Boise State wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck (82) scores a touchdown against defense by Washington State safety Shalom Luani (18) on Sept. 10 at Albertsons Stadium.
Boise State wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck (82) scores a touchdown against defense by Washington State safety Shalom Luani (18) on Sept. 10 at Albertsons Stadium. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Boise State’s passing offense has been one of the most prolific in the nation early on this season, but it will get a big test Saturday at Oregon State. Five of the Beavers’ eight defensive backs on the depth chart are 6-foot-1 or taller, and are coming off a four-interception performance last week against Idaho State.

The Beavers hired Utah State defensive coordinator Kevin Clune in January. Yes, the guy who led the Aggies to create eight Boise State turnovers in Logan last October. Oregon State was tied for 117th nationally with 12 turnovers created last season. It has six in two games.

“They press you, play man. They do a good job of creating turnovers. So, ball security is going to be a must this week,” Boise State senior receiver Thomas Sperbeck said.

In Sperbeck, the Broncos have a reliable No. 1 (263 yards in the first two games), and junior Cedrick Wilson has been an equally strong downfield threat, hauling in 10 catches for 198 yards. The team’s third starter, senior Chaz Anderson, has five catches. Among non-starters, only one receiver has a reception: sophomore A.J. Richardson, who has one for 31 yards.

“They’re practicing hard every day, they’re making plays. ... Their opportunities are going to come,” receivers coach Junior Adams said.

Coming off a three-interception game against Washington State, the Broncos feel sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien will be eager to throw the ball around Reser Stadium.

“I expect great things from him against Oregon State and moving on,” junior running back Jeremy McNichols said.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Clune said of Boise State, “they do a great job of attacking you in every facet.” If the Broncos can put a few big passes together, it will be the first offense to do it this season. The Beavers have not allowed a passing touchdown in the 75 attempts they’ve faced.

“We might’ve done something stupid or gave up something, then we came right back a game or two later and we made a big play,” Clune said about the Idaho State win. “Hopefully the mindset is there that if something bad happens we’ll come back and match it with a good play.”

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