Boise State Football

Players to watch as No. 20 Boise State hosts UNLV

Boise State safety Chanceller James is two tackles away from setting his career high for a season. He made 55 stops in 2015.
Boise State safety Chanceller James is two tackles away from setting his career high for a season. He made 55 stops in 2015. The Associated Press

BOISE STATE

BRETT RYPIEN, QUARTERBACK

The sophomore quarterback has played the best football of his young career the past two weeks as the Broncos’ offense has racked up 97 points. Rypien is 34-of-43 (79.1 percent) passing for 557 yards and seven touchdowns, even adding a rushing score, without a turnover. He threw for 469 yards last year against UNLV, which entered the week No. 100 nationally in passing defense.

“It kind of showed a lot last game (at Hawaii). We were running into the wrong looks, and he did a really good job of checking out of those and running the right play, and it showed,” senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck said.

CHANCELLER JAMES, SAFETY

Perhaps his performance has been more quiet than usual, because he has not doing any interviews all year. But James, a senior, has stepped up as one of two returning starters in the defensive backfield. His two interceptions lead the team, and is third with 54 tackles in nine starts.

“Especially lately here, he’s been doing a good job back there in the secondary,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “... It’s awesome to see.”

BROCK BARR, RECEIVER/SNAPPER

A redshirt junior walk-on, the 6-foot-3 Barr was put in a very unique spot Saturday at Hawaii. With snapper Matt Cota not making the trip, the receiver stepped in and snapped on punts. It was the first time Barr, who transferred from Shasta (Calif.) College last year, had ever done it in a game.

“It was a little nerve-wracking. ... I never really realized how much pressure the long snapper had until you’re the one doing it,” Barr said.

UNLV

KURT PALANDECH, QUARTERBACK

A junior, Palandech started three games last season but didn’t make his first start this year until Saturday against Wyoming. The third Rebel QB to start this season, he earned Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors after completing 20-of-32 passes for 252 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also ran for 157 yards, including a 76-yard TD.

“He’s rolling, huh?” Avalos said. “There’s no question he’s done a real good job stepping in there for their offense.”

CHARLES WILLIAMS, RUNNING BACK

A true freshman, Williams is the Rebels’ top rusher with 665 yards on 115 carries, scoring three touchdowns. He also is the team’s primary kickoff returner, with 422 yards on 24 attempts.

“Downhill, but I can move my hips and get up field,” said Williams, describing his style.

TAU LOTULELEI, LINEBACKER

The 6-foot-1, 235 pound senior is tied for 14th in FBS with 14.5 tackles for loss. His 96 total tackles are 16th in the nation. He logged 12 tackles (1.5 for loss) in UNLV’s 69-66 upset win over Wyoming last weekend.

“He plays hard. He’s physical. You can tell he has great instincts on tape. He just makes a lot of plays. ... It’s hard not to notice him,” Boise State co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Scott Huff said.

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