Boise State tackle Archie Lewis says finding 'rhythm' in offensive line key in turnaround
Boise State offensive line coach Brad Bedell knows what Dan Hawkins was thinking as the ex-Colorado offensive lineman sat outside the head coach’s office in Boulder, Colo., in 2006.
“He was like, ‘Oh God, who is this guy?’ ” Bedell said with a laugh.
On a whim, Bedell showed up and waited while Hawkins finished a workout. Bedell wanted to get his foot in the door as a coach. He had just been cut by the Houston Texans after the preseason, his fourth NFL team in six seasons, and was working on finishing his degree.
Hawkins, in his first season with the Buffaloes after five seasons at Boise State, didn’t have an open position but he had a task that needed to be completed.
“I got sent down to the basement. They were transitioning from film to digital, so they needed their tapes labeled and organized, so for a few days, that’s what I did,” Bedell said. “Just because you played in the NFL doesn’t mean you get to walk in and be a coach.”
Bedell worked as an unpaid volunteer with the recruiting staff for about a month before the Texans called again and wanted him to come back. Hawkins told him to take the opportunity to play again. Bedell saw action in nine games but said it was a difficult year health-wise.
Recovering from surgery the following spring, Bedell’s dad asked him how much longer he could keep going. It stuck with him that his wife, his father and others saw the toll the game was taking.
The next day, Hawkins called and asked if he was interested in an offensive technical intern position. He also made sure Bedell was truly retired.
In three seasons at Colorado, Bedell worked with five other current Boise State assistants, starting a coaching career that then took him to Northern Colorado, UC Davis, New Mexico State, Arkansas State, Texas State, Baylor and Lamar.
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin worked with Bedell at Arkansas State in 2013 and said if Scott Huff had chosen to move on with Chris Petersen or did not want to coach the offensive line, he would’ve hired Bedell in 2014. Harsin got the chance in March when Huff went to Washington.
“Volunteering in the recruiting department, it let me see a different side guys don’t always get to see,” Bedell said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s no task too small if it’ll help your team win. That’s the blue collar mindset, isn’t it? That’s the way this program was built and why I was excited to be a part of it.”
Bedell, called by then-Texans coach Gary Kubiak “a battler,” lets his passion and tenacity show with his linemen.
“He brings a lot of fire,” senior offensive tackle Archie Lewis said. “He’s like, the loudest person. If you come out to practice, he’s the first person you hear. He’s a great coach and fun to be around.”
After some major struggles early on, Bedell’s group has made night-and-day improvements since the bye week.
The Broncos gave up 13 sacks the first four games but none in the last two. They allowed 34 tackles for loss the first four, and just two against BYU and San Diego State.
“There’s a lot of positives these last few games with them,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “I don’t know if it’s a change in mindset, but that toughness, that competitiveness is starting to come out.”
FULL OF CHARACTERS, FULL OF PRODUCTION
Boise State’s STUD end position is of vital importance in the Broncos’ defense, whether it is to serve as pass rushers or stopping the run when teams go outside the tackles.
So far through six games, it’s been a group that has thrived. Junior Jabril Frazier, sophomore Sam Whitney and redshirt freshman Curtis Weaver have combined for 43 tackles (11 for loss), nine sacks and three forced fumbles. It’s tough to find a more gregarious trio on the team.
“There’s a bunch of different personalities in there — I don’t think there’s ever a lack of commentary going on in that room,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.
Whitney, a strong run-stopper, has started five of the Broncos’ six games. Weaver and Frazier are tied for the team lead with four sacks apiece. But Weaver has what Frazier doesn’t — a fumble return touchdown at Washington State. Frazier almost had one at San Diego State, but after running a fumble back, a review determined quarterback Christian Chapman’s arm was going forward and the play was actually an incomplete pass.
“That was heartbreaking. I was so tired,” Frazier said with a smile.
SALES STRONG FOR SATURDAY’S GAME
Coming off last Saturday’s 31-14 win at then-No. 19 San Diego State, the Broncos are likely to have their biggest home crowd of the season this Saturday against Wyoming.
Boise State said fewer than 3,000 tickets remained as of Wednesday evening, assuming students pick up their allotment, which they have done for each game thus far at Albertsons Stadium. The Broncos’ last home game, Sept. 22 against Virginia, had an announced crowd of 33,947, a season high, which is 2,440 less than capacity.
MORE OPTIONS FOR COZART?
Any debates about whether he should get more work at quarterback aside, Boise State showed a new twist last week with senior Montell Cozart.
Late in the second quarter, Cozart and junior quarterback Brett Rypien appeared for the first time in the backfield together. On third-and-9, Rypien tossed a swing pass to Cozart, who got nine yards and the first down. Rypien hit Jake Roh for a touchdown three plays later.
It could very well be a sign of things to come for an offense in dire need of playmakers. Harsin joked to a reporter Monday when Cozart’s catch was mentioned, “I hoped you wouldn’t mention that.”
“He’s a good athlete. Finding different ways to utilize him, making it more difficult for a defense to game plan, is important,” Hill said. “Being creative and doing some things with both those guys on the field is intriguing.”
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Wyoming at Boise State
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf); fans are asked to wear orange in sections 27-30, 101-104, 127-130, North End Zone and Stueckle Sky Club; blue in all other sections
TV: ESPN2 (Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 4-2, 2-0 (beat San Diego State 31-14); Wyoming 4-2, 2-0 (beat Utah State 28-23)
Series: Boise State leads 10-1 (Wyoming won 30-28 on Oct. 29, 2016, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 14 1/2
Kickoff weather: Upper 40s, cloudy, 50 percent chance of rain