A practice drill paid off in a big way for cornerback Tyler Horton in Boise State’s 44-19 win over Air Force on Saturday at Albertsons Stadium.
In a drill Horton referred to as “country,” safeties coach Gabe Franklin places a ball on the turf and yells either “city” or “country.”
“You hear ‘city,’ you’ve got to jump on it cause there’s a lot of people around,” Horton said. “You hear ‘country,’ it’s wide open. You pick it up and run.”
With his coach’s words ringing in his ears, Horton picked up Nevada quarterback Nate Romine’s fumble and ran 21 yards untouched into the end zone for a 27-7 Boise State lead with 9:22 to play in the second quarter.
Air Force fumbled five times and Boise State recovered three (Horton, Sonatane Lui and Gabe Perez).
RECEIVERS CONTINUE TO BLOSSOM
Boise State’s wide receivers are quickly becoming a group that went from a one-man army to a diverse crew of weapons.
Senior Cedrick Wilson again had a strong showing Saturday with five catches for 107 yards, but he wasn’t the only big target. Junior A.J. Richardson had a career-high 123 yards on three receptions, junior Sean Modster had a touchdown for a second straight game, and freshman Octavius Evans had a 7-yard TD in the third quarter.
“Our receiving corps has grown a lot this year, especially the younger guys,” quarterback Brett Rypien said. “I think Sean has done an unbelievable job improving himself and his game. His overall compete level is head and shoulders above where it was at a few weeks ago.”
In the Broncos’ last four games, Richardson, Modster, Evans and freshman CT Thomas have combined for 40 receptions. They had 35 combined the first seven games.
Evans made his second touchdown catch of the season Saturday. He’s the first Boise State true freshman wide receiver with multiple TD catches since Kirby Moore in 2009.
“These last three or four games, the ball has definitely been spread around a lot,” Richardson said. “I think everybody’s taken advantage of it and playing with confidence.”
OFFENSIVE LINE CARRIES THE HAMMER
The Broncos broke tradition a bit on Saturday when they had not one, but five, players carry the Hammer. Each of the starting offensive linemen carried their own.
Earlier this week, the running backs bought the group pizza, and on Saturday, the line did not allow a sack and helped the offense pick up 428 yards on 55 plays.
Boise State rushed for just 90 yards, but Rypien said because the Falcons stack the box to stop the run, they are susceptible to deep passes — and the line gave him enough protection.
“There was a lot going on this week with the O-line,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “They did a really good job (Saturday). ... Those guys have consistently gotten better.”
YOUNG WON’T RETURN IN 2018
On Friday night, junior cornerback Michael Young tweeted that he will not return to the team in 2018.
Young has been suspended indefinitely since Oct. 2, after he had a DUI arrest in late September.
Young, a junior college transfer who joined the team in January, was suspended for the season opener, but played in the next three games, making four tackles in the Sept. 22 loss to Virginia.
ATTENDANCE DIPS DESPITE MILITARY BOOST
The announced attendance on senior night was 33,030, bringing the season average at Albertsons Stadium to 32,228.
That is the lowest since 2007, when it was 30,338.
Through Boise State’s Seats for Soldiers program, 314 military members were able to attend the Broncos’ game against Air Force thanks to fan donations throughout the season.
Boise State then donated an additional 1,400 seats to soldiers and families from Mountain Home Air Force Base and Gowen Field.
NEWS AND NOTES
Starting middle linebacker Tyson Maeva did not play against Air Force. He left the previous game against Colorado State late with an injury. Starting guard Eric Quevedo and backup linebacker Riley Whimpey also did not play. … Senior tight end Jake Roh was the rotating captain, joining the three season-long captains. ... Nate Romine started at quarterback for Air Force in place of junior Arion Worthman. Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said Worthman didn’t practice until Wednesday and that the QB “wasn’t as functional as we needed him.” Romine was knocked out of the game in the second half and won’t play the rest of the season, Calhoun said.