Late in Saturday’s spring game at Albertsons Stadium, junior quarterback Rathen Ricedorff took off on a scramble, getting solid yardage before the play was blown dead.
Junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch ran onto the field from the sideline and got his arms around Ricedorff, stopping him from trying to keep going toward the end zone.
“I’m just standing on the sideline, not really doing anything, so I ran over to him and said ‘you’re lucky I’m not on the field,’” Vander Esch said.
Vander Esch’s team, the Broncos, was comprised of the first-team offense and defense, while Ricedorff was part of the opposing team, Boise State. The Broncos won 13-7 on Saturday, with a Ricedorff 11-yard touchdown run with 5 seconds left breaking the shutout attempt.
“We always want a goose egg,” Vander Esch said. “It was fun. I like flying around out there, playing with everybody, think we had good energy.”
Most of the starters were on the shelf for that final drive, which was representative of the day: no side truly dominated before an announced crowd 5,012, but it was obvious this Boise State team is enjoying each day it has on the field.
“This is a fun team. They’re fun to be around, really good personalities. They work hard. You can coach them — they listen, they respond,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “Overall, I thought our spring ball was really good, think (Saturday) was a pretty solid finish.”
After both teams were stopped on fourth down on their first drives, the Broncos got on the board first on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Ryan Wolpin with 2:32 left in the first quarter. Redshirt freshman kicker Joel Velazquez made a pair of field goals for the Broncos in the second and fourth quarter, from 49 and 26 yards, respectively.
Junior quarterback Brett Rypien was 18-of-31 passing for 154 yards with an interception, and Wolpin had 17 carries for 74 yards for the Broncos. Junior wide receiver A.J. Richardson had four catches for 74 yards for Boise State.
The defense forced one turnover — redshirt freshman defensive back Avery Williams concluded a strong spring with an interception of Rypien at the Boise State 47-yard line late in the second quarter, but the offense could not convert. Williams, a walk-on from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., has played cornerback, nickel, running back and punt returner this spring.
“It felt pretty good. I wasn’t having that great of a day at the start, so that kind of got my mood back up,” Williams said. “I thought I did pretty well this spring, I still have a lot to improve technique-wise. ... I’ve been everywhere.”
Richardson had the offense’s longest play of the day, a 34-yard catch from redshirt freshman Jake Constantine. The quarterbacks completed 51.6 percent of their passes on the cold, wet evening. With No. 1 target Cedrick Wilson out for most of the spring, the timing with the other receivers still is a bit rusty.
“That’s kind of been the story of spring ball. We’ve been kind of off, need to get our communication better, but the beauty of it, is we have all summer to do so,” Rypien said.
Harsin said as the team wraps up the spring and heads into the offseason, he wants a team that has inexperience at many spots to really hone its understanding of different game scenarios. The Broncos open the regular season Sept. 2 against Troy at Albertsons Stadium.
“We’ve got to grow,” Harsin said. “Effort’s there, technique’s there, you start getting into real situations ... they’ve got to understand that, they’ve got to do it fast every single down.”
ROH LEAVES WITH INJURY
Senior tight end Jake Roh, healthy this spring after a knee injury slowed him down all last season, left in the first quarter with an ankle injury. He returned to the sideline in a walking boot on his left leg in the second half. Harsin said it likely was a high ankle sprain, and “he’s going to be OK.”
“Very disappointing to see Jake go down, because a lot of the stuff we were doing revolved around Jake Roh,” Rypien said.
The team was without a gaggle of players that could be starters come fall, though none of their injuries are expected to keep them out in the fall. Among those out were Wilson, running back Alexander Mattison, offensive linemen John Molchon, Archie Lewis, Mason Hampton and Garrett Larson, STUD Jabril Frazier, linebacker Blake Whitlock and safety Cameron Hartsfield.
TAKING A STEP UP
Harsin said some of the players who have stood out to him this spring are Vander Esch, Constantine, Richardson, junior cornerback Mike Young, sophomore safeties Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce, junior defensive tackle David Moa, redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Ezra Cleveland and Donte Harrington and sophomore receiver Bryan Jefferson.
SPRING GAME STATS
Rushing: Ryan Wolpin 17-74, Robert Mahone 6-8, Christopher Hutchings 3-20, Jake Shaddox 3-3, Brett Rypien 3-(-5), Rathen Ricedorff 2-18, Jake Constantine 2-(-14), Team 1-(-2).
Passing: Brett Rypien 18-31-1, 154 yards; Jake Constantine 13-28-0, 123 yards; Rathen Ricedorff 1-3-0, 17 yards.
Receiving: Sean Modster 5-37, A.J. Richardson 4-74, Bryan Jefferson 4-26, Chase Blakley 3-33, John Bates 3-26, Jake Roh 2-27, David McKinzie 2-21, Ryan Wolpin 2-20, Robert Mahone 2-3, Bubba Ogbebor 1-8, Jake Shaddox 1-8, Akilian Butler 1-7, Alec Dhaenens 1-3, Jake Knight 1-1.
Interceptions: Avery Williams.
Broncos — Ryan Wolpin 1 run (Joel Velazquez kick), 2:32. Broncos 7, Boise State 0.
Broncos — Joel Velazquez 49 field goal, 2:56. Broncos 10, Boise State 0.
Broncos — Joel Velazquez 26 field goal, 2:57. Broncos 13, Boise State 0.
Boise State — Rathen Ricedorff 11 run (Haden Hoggarth kick), 0:05. Broncos 13, Boise State 7.
The Broncos now head into the offseason following their allotted 15 spring practices. In the summer, they are allowed to run practices on their own, but coaches are not allowed to be on hand. Recent NCAA rules do allow coaches two hours per week to meet with players and can watch conditioning work run by the strength staff.
Fall camp will begin a month before the Broncos’ season opener, Sept. 2 against Troy at Albertsons Stadium. A kickoff time is not set, but is expected to be announced in June. Troy went 10-3 last season and became the first Sun Belt Conference team to appear in the AP top 25. Running back Jordan Chunn (1,288 yards in 2016) and quarterback Brandon Silvers (7,394 career passing yards) lead a potent Trojans offense.