Boise State Football

Boise State vs. Oregon: Who gets the edge, players to watch in the Las Vegas Bowl

Las Vegas Bowl press conference highlights

Boise State and Oregon football players and coaches meet with the media in advance of the Las Vegas Bowl. Here are some of the top comments. (Video courtesy of Las Vegas Bowl)
Up Next
Boise State and Oregon football players and coaches meet with the media in advance of the Las Vegas Bowl. Here are some of the top comments. (Video courtesy of Las Vegas Bowl)

WHO GETS THE EDGE

When the Broncos run the ball ...

An important factor in Saturday’s game will be whether Boise State’s top rusher, Alexander Mattison, can play. He has 1,074 yards on the season and is averaging 100.9 yards per game his last nine. If his lower-leg injury keeps him out, it could be tough to get the ground game going.

Oregon has been OK against the run, allowing 129.9 ypg on the ground, with only two teams (Washington and Stanford) going for more than 171 yards. When teams get moving, the Ducks have trouble stopping them, ranking 115th in red-zone defense.

[Prediction: Here’s how Boise State can beat Oregon]

“They’ve got some speed, and you can tell they play with energy, so we’re going to have to match that and set the tone by not letting them get moving,” Boise State sophomore guard John Molchon said.

ADVANTAGE: Oregon

1203 bsufresmw10 (1)
Boise State wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (1) keeps on his feet after a long pass reception while defended by Fresno State defensive back Jaron Bryant (14) in the fourth quarter of the Mountain West championship game Dec. 2 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

When the Broncos pass the ball ...

Quarterback Brett Rypien has been excellent after the Broncos’ 2-2 start, throwing 14 TDs and just two INTs since. Senior receiver Cedrick Wilson will be heavily involved, especially if tight end Jake Roh can’t play. Rypien has 246 or more yards each of the past six games.

The Ducks have put together a nice pass rush, with 2.67 sacks per game (22nd in the FBS), but their 229.9 ypg allowed through the air is 75th. After allowing Utah to throw for 293 yards on Oct. 28, Oregon has allowed 204, 159 and 113 yards passing.

“They have a lot of guys within their front seven that can move. I feel like their secondary has a lot of speed as well, but with some of our personnel, we’ll be able to take advantage of some of our height advantages,” senior quarterback Montell Cozart said.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Ducks run the ball ...

A big shift in the dynamic of the bowl game was delivered Thursday when Oregon senior Royce Freeman, No. 6 in FBS history with 5,621 yards rushing, opted not to play. Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James had 573 and 485 yards, respectively, behind him.

“I’ve always said they’re all capable of being a starter,” running backs coach Donte Pimpleton said to the team’s website. “Royce is a difference-maker, but those guys are plenty able. They’ll go in there and do a great job.”

Oregon is No. 8 in the FBS in rushing offense, though the Broncos are tough themselves, holding teams to 125.8 ypg (20th). Boise State’s primary goal is stopping the run, and often when it does, the result is a win. Only one team has rushed for more than 200 yards against BSU in 2017.

ADVANTAGE: Oregon

Oregon St Oregon Football (2)
Oregon running back Kani Benoit scores a touchdown against Oregon State. Thomas Boyd AP

When the Ducks pass the ball ...

Oregon is much, much better when sophomore QB Justin Herbert plays. The Ducks average 52.1 points per game when he plays, 15.0 ppg without him. The Ducks averaged 250 yards passing in his seven starts and just 97.2 when he was out with a collarbone injury.

Boise State is No. 30 in pass efficiency defense (116.99), allowing 15 touchdown passes to 13 interceptions. The Broncos had one total sack in their last two losses, and 19 in their past eight wins. Oregon’s young offensive line (four sophomores) is allowing 1.75 sacks per game.

“They’re really well-coached. They’ve got really athletic guys. ... They fly around and play passionate defense,” Herbert said.

ADVANTAGE: Push

Special teams ...

Boise State’s return units have been a key reason for the Broncos’ 10-win season. They rank No. 11 in kickoff returns and are one of 12 teams with multiple punt-return touchdowns. The team’s punters have been solid, and kicker Haden Hoggarth has made 13-of-17 field goals.

Oregon has struggled to generate much advantage punting, ranking 125th with 33.74 net yards per punt, having allowed a block for a score and a touchdown return. The Ducks’ coverage units have otherwise been solid and can make up for minor miscues with their vaunted speed.

“Whenever we get athletes like that, our techniques have to be almost perfect. Everyone on their team is fast,” Boise State punt/kick returner Avery Williams said.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

PLAYERS TO WATCH

OREGON

Justin Herbert, quarterback

A name that is sure to be bandied about as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate next year, the sophomore is critical to the Ducks’ success. The team is 6-1 when he starts, as he’s thrown for 1,750 yards with 13 TDs and three INTs, completing 66.5 percent of his attempts. He also has five rushing scores.

“There’s just no downside,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “He’s an elite talent and he’s an elite human being. He’s an elite teammate, a colleague, a competitor, he’s got it all, yet he’s as humble as a humble person could be.”

Jalen Jelks, defensive end

A 6-foot-6, 245-pound junior from Phoenix, Jelks had a breakout season for the Ducks, racking up 6.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss, both team highs. He also broke up seven passes and blocked a field goal. He considered the NFL Draft but said this week he will return in 2017.

“I feel like I left a lot out there. I missed a lot of plays,” Jelks said. “(Defensive line) coach Joe (Salave’a) said he’s going to find those plays, he calls them ‘layups,’ so I’m sure it won’t be easy to watch, but I’ll learn from it and get better.”

Tyrell Crosby, offensive tackle

A Las Vegas native, Crosby returns home a likely pick in the first half of April’s NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound left tackle has not allowed a sack and earned the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman. He will change numbers from 73 to 58 for the game to honor the number of victims in the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip.

“I’ll say it without reservation, the best lineman in the country,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “I have the film to prove it as well.”

BOISE STATE

Montell Cozart, quarterback

The Kansas transfer has been a welcome addition, and he’s enjoying his first and only bowl game. He provides a weapon along with Rypien at quarterback. He’s thrown for 747 yards with 10 TDs to one INT, adding 361 yards rushing and four TDs, plus three receptions for 45 yards.

“When you sign up to play football at a Division I school, you want to go experience these types of things,” Cozart said.

IMG_0915_bsudo02_5_1_VMCCJEIN_L343185128
Boise State running back Ryan Wolpin gains yards on the New Mexico defense before being tripped up by defensive back Stanley Barnwell Jr. on Sept. 14 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Ryan Wolpin, running back

Wolpin, in what will be his final game for the Broncos, could see himself in a major role as Mattison deals with a lower left leg injury. Wolpin scored the game-winner in the Mountain West championship and has 99 carries for 377 yards this season.

“We’re really confident in Ryan,” center Mason Hampton said. “Beginning of the year, Ryan was going to be a big component of the offense, and he has been all year. Fall camp, he was taking most of the reps. We know he has experience and we’re really confident in him.”

Avery Williams, cornerback/returner

A former walk-on, Williams has provided some major sparks for Boise State in key wins against Troy, Fresno State and San Diego State. His 12-yard punt-return average is No. 9 in the FBS and he averages 24.9 yards per kickoff return. He also has 40 tackles and two INTs.

“A fiery guy who is gonna get in your face all the time. ... Obviously, he’s a great player and he gives us really good field position in the punt-return game,” tight end Jake Roh said. “It’s a huge asset and he’s a great player on defense as well.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

BOISE STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 Brett Rypien

6-2

208

Jr.

3 Montell Cozart

6-1

205

Sr.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

22 Alexander Mattison

5-11

214

So.

21 Ryan Wolpin

5-8

195

Sr.

34 Robert Mahone

5-10

211

RFr.

Wide receiver (X)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

17 Austin Cottrell

6-2

203

Sr.

Wide receiver (H)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 A.J. Richardson

6-0

209

Jr

6 CT Thomas

5-8

152

Fr.

Wide receiver (Z)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Sean Modster

5-11

196

Jr.

82 Octavius Evans

6-1

195

Fr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

88 Jake Roh

6-3

227

Sr.

87 Alec Dhaenens

6-3

246

Sr.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

76 Ezra Cleveland

6-6

296

RFr.

66 Isiah Moore

6-4

275

Jr.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

77 John Molchon

6-5

313

So.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

59 Mason Hampton

6-3

295

Sr.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

79 Eric Quevedo

6-4

304

So.

52 Andrew Tercek

6-1

278

Sr.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

74 Archie Lewis

6-3

299

Sr.

78 Andres Preciado

6-6

292

Jr.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

91 Durrant Miles

6-5

253

Jr.

93 Chase Hatada OR

6-3

267

So.

45 Kayode Rufai

6-4

254

RFr.

Nose tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

98 Sonatane Lui

6-1

305

So.

57 Emmanuel Fesili

6-2

302

So.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

55 David Moa

6-3

271

Jr.

90 Daniel Auelua

6-2

298

Sr.

STUD end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Jabril Frazier OR

6-4

243

Jr.

99 Curtis Weaver

6-3

252

RFr.

Weakside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

38 Leighton Vander Esch

6-4

240

Jr.

44 Riley Whimpey

6-1

212

Fr.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

58 Tyson Maeva

6-0

214

So.

25 Benton Wickersham

6-2

231

RFr.

Strongside linebacker/nickel

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

9 Desmond Williams

5-11

201

RFr.

28 Kekaula Kaniho

5-10

175

Fr.

Boundary cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

14 Tyler Horton

5-11

188

Jr.

15 Jalen Walker

6-0

172

RFr.

Field cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

30 Robert Lewis

5-10

175

RFr.

Field safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 DeAndre Pierce

5-11

174

So.

32 Jordan Happle

5-11

198

RFr.

Boundary safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

10 Kekoa Nawahine

6-2

199

So.

37 Cameron Hartsfield

5-10

197

Sr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

41 Haden Hoggarth

6-0

198

Jr.

46 Joel Velazquez

6-0

228

RFr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

46 Joel Velazquez OR

6-0

228

RFr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

89 Brock Barr

6-3

204

Sr.

50 Nicholai Pitman

5-11

230

So.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson OR

6-3

188

Sr.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

26 Avery Williams OR

5-9

194

RFr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

Troy

W, 24-13

Saturday, Sept. 9

at Washington State

L, 47-44 (3OT)

Thursday, Sept. 14

New Mexico

W, 28-14

Friday, Sept. 22

Virginia

L, 42-23

Friday, Oct. 6

at BYU

W, 24-7

Saturday, Oct. 14

at San Diego State

W, 31-14

Saturday, Oct. 21

Wyoming

W, 24-14

Saturday, Oct. 28

at Utah State

W, 41-14

Saturday, Nov. 4

Nevada

W, 41-14

Saturday, Nov. 11

at Colorado State

W, 59-52 (OT)

Saturday, Nov. 18

Air Force

W, 44-19

Saturday, Nov. 25

at Fresno State

L, 28-17

Saturday, Dec. 2

Fresno State (MWC)

W, 17-14

Saturday, Dec. 16

Oregon (LV Bowl)

1:30 p.m. (ABC)

OREGON

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

10 Justin Herbert

6-6

225

So.

11 Braxton Burmeister

6-1

204

Fr.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

29 Kani Benoit OR

5-10

209

Sr.

20 Tony Brooks-James

5-9

175

Jr.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

13 Dillon Mitchell

6-1

185

So.

23 Malik Lovette

5-10

200

So.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Charles Nelson

5-8

170

Sr.

5 Taj Griffin

5-11

178

Jr.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

80 Johnny Johnson III

6-0

205

Fr.

86 Brenden Schooler

6-2

195

So.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

27 Jacob Breeland

6-5

241

So.

84 Cam McCormick

6-4

248

Fr.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

73 Tyrell Crosby

6-5

320

Sr.

77 George Moore

6-6

328

So.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

68 Shane Lemieux

6-4

317

So.

79 Evan Voeller

6-5

314

Sr.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

55 Jake Hanson

6-5

302

So.

54 Calvin Throckmorton

6-5

307

So.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

54 Calvin Throckmorton

6-5

307

So.

71 Jacob Capra

6-4

311

Fr.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

66 Brady Aiello

6-7

307

So.

54 Calvin Throckmorton

6-5

307

So.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

92 Henry Mondeaux

6-4

280

Sr.

91 Elijah George

6-5

284

Sr.

Nose guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

34 Jordon Scott

6-1

333

Fr.

99 Austin Faoliu

6-3

289

Fr.

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

97 Jalen Jelks

6-6

245

Jr.

90 Drayton Carlberg

6-5

286

So.

Outside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

11 Justin Hollins

6-5

238

Jr.

3 Jonah Moi

6-4

240

Sr.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

18 Jimmie Swain

6-3

237

Sr.

53 Blake Rugraf

6-1

226

So.

Jack/weakside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

35 Troy Dye

6-4

224

So.

12 Sampson Niu

6-1

215

Fr.

Duck/nickel linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

32 La’Mar Winston Jr.

6-2

214

So.

19 Fotu T. Leiato II

5-11

198

Jr.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 Thomas Graham Jr.

5-10

189

Fr.

15 Deommodore Lenoir

5-11

190

Fr.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Arrion Springs

6-0

205

Sr.

10 Ty Griffin

6-0

204

Sr.

Safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

2 Tyree Robinson

6-4

205

Sr.

16 Nick Pickett

6-1

198

Fr.

Safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 Ugochukwu Amadi

5-9

197

Jr.

25 Brady Breeze

6-0

194

Fr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

41 Aidan Schneider

6-3

236

Sr.

96 Adam Stack

6-2

177

Fr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

96 Adam Stack

6-2

177

Fr.

42 Blake Maimone

6-6

223

So.

Snapper

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

58 Tanner Carew

6-1

242

Sr.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

12 Taylor Alie OR

6-0

184

Sr.

42 Blake Maimone

6-6

223

So.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

20 Tony Brooks-James OR

5-9

175

Jr.

6 Charles Nelson

5-8

170

Sr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Charles Nelson

5-8

170

Sr.

13 Dillon Mitchell

6-1

198

So.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

Southern Utah

W, 77-21

Saturday, Sept. 9

Nebraska

W, 42-35

Saturday, Sept. 16

at Wyoming

W, 49-13

Saturday, Sept. 23

at Arizona State

L, 37-35

Saturday, Sept. 30

Cal

W, 45-24

Saturday, Oct. 7

Washington State

L, 33-10

Saturday, Oct. 14

at Stanford

L, 49-7

Saturday, Oct. 21

at UCLA

L, 31-14

Saturday, Oct. 28

Utah

W, 41-20

Saturday, Nov. 4

at Washington

L, 38-3

Saturday, Nov. 18

Arizona

W, 48-28

Saturday, Nov. 25

Oregon State

W, 69-10

Saturday, Dec. 16

Boise State (LV Bowl)

1:30 p.m. (ABC)

  Comments