He is not 21, and he has seen plenty of the sights in Las Vegas. But few Boise State football players are more excited to go to the Las Vegas Bowl next week than John Molchon.
Molchon, a sophomore offensive lineman, is one of two Broncos from Las Vegas, the other being redshirt freshman STUD end Derriyon Shaw. When the Broncos face Oregon on Dec. 16 at Sam Boyd Stadium, it will be their first time on the field in their hometown since high school.
“I’m really excited, just being able to see a lot of my friends, a lot of people that supported me,” Molchon said.
Molchon, a Faith Lutheran High graduate, has become an important piece of the offense’s improvement.
An honorable mention All-Mountain West selection, Molchon has started 12 games for the Broncos this season — one at right tackle, one at right guard and the last 10 at left guard.
Entering the Broncos’ regular-season finale at Fresno State, he was tied for No. 1 on the team in knockdown blocks and was the second-highest-graded offensive lineman.
“I think he’s really developed as a player, he’s gaining more confidence as well,” senior center Mason Hampton said. “He’s becoming a more intelligent O-lineman, which is definitely helping his play on the field.”
Molchon tried to find the spot where he fit best, making his right-side starts the first two games. In the second, on Sept. 9, a miscommunication led to Washington State defensive lineman Frankie Luvu sacking quarterback Brett Rypien. The hit knocked Rypien out of the game and forced him to miss the following game.
“It was something I had to learn from, handling the noise. It’s something that has made me better,” Molchon said. “I take it very personally when I mess up. It was something I knew I had to correct for future games.”
After regaining his starting role Sept. 22 against Virginia, Molchon didn’t allow a sack in the next eight games. The Broncos allowed 11 sacks the first four games, but 16 in the nine games after that.
“It was just a fun year, I learned a ton,” Molchon said. “... Having that consistency was my big deal, and the offensive line as a whole was the same.”
Growing up, Molchon saw Boise State play in the Las Vegas Bowl when it played in the game three straight years from 2010 to 2012. Though he said none in particular stood out, he is excited to take part in something that was appointment television as a youngster.
“I’ve always enjoyed that bowl game, having an opportunity to play in the Vegas Bowl is awesome,” Molchon said. “It was definitely something I watched every single year.”
A PUNTER’S DREAM: Junior punter Quinn Skillin had a play that turned the Broncos’ early struggles around Saturday against Fresno State when he pinned the Bulldogs at their own 1-yard line in the second quarter.
Normally, he might get a high-five from another specialist after a solid punt, but teammates mobbed him, slapping his helmet.
“It was almost like I hit a home run in baseball,” Skillin said.
Las Vegas Bowl
Who: Boise State (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5)
When: 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday, Dec. 16
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
TV: ABC (Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Molly McGrath)
Tickets: $81.75 apiece at BroncoSports.com/tickets, the Athletic Ticket Office or via phone at 208-426-4737.