Behind closed doors and eight days into fall camp, the Boise State football team held on Saturday its first scrimmage.
Coach Bryan Harsin addressed the media afterward, praising the competitiveness and effort. He said in the recent heat, the team has responded well.
Among the standouts? Special teams, and some veterans that will be vital in 2018.
“I thought (Brett Rypien) played well, thought he threw the ball well tonight,” Harsin said. “(Junior college transfer) John Hightower had a couple good catches, which was good to see ... Alexander (Mattison) ran the ball well.”
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Harsin said the defensive line also was tough in the final three quarters and the No. 1 secondary was solid, too. The Broncos’ next scrimmage, another closed one, will be Friday. The team’s fan fest will be Aug. 25. He said as the next one approaches, the team will start honing in on its two-deep and which freshmen may be relied upon early.
Other tidbits from Harsin’s meeting with the media:
— On Avery Williams, who had a punt return TD on his first-ever touch of the ball last season: “That was the most impressive I’ve ever seen ... I think he’s one of the best (nationally).”
— With three new scholarship freshmen in addition to Hightower’s arrival, Harsin said the wide receiver group has done well. He said there were a few drops Saturday, chalking it up to some nerves, but that those little things must be ironed out to play early.
“I think they’ve studied, they know formations, they know plays and they’ve shown flashes of their talent — today they were good,” he said.
— He praised senior defensive end Durrant Miles, who had six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and interception last season, noting he does a lot of the “dirty work.”
“That guy is 100 percent all out, every day, all in, locked in at meetings, so he’s got all the intangibles you want,” Harsin said. “Right now, physically, he’s playing really well, playing stronger. Coach (Chad Kauha’aha’a) has done a good job with him with his strike ... that’s shown up against our O-line.”
— The tight end position has “been OK. We’re not there yet.” Harsin said there were a few penalties from the group, adding that “we need to get better.” It’s a spot that had four combined catches last season, though Harsin feels the talent level is good, but also noted it takes some time to get good at that spot, with its receiving, blocking and motion responsibilities.
— Discussing the Broncos’ high expectations as a possible New Year’s Six Bowl contender, Harsin said it’s impossible these days to totally ignore it. He prepped his team for it when spring practices ended.
“We know what it is, but the bottom line is we haven’t done anything,” Harsin said. “We understand that reality. It’s nice ... but we haven’t done anything in 2018 for that to be said. It’s great for recruiting, it’s great for other things about our program. For the team and the coaches, it’s not a factor for us.”
— The Broncos’ coach was happy to get Oregon on the schedule for a three-game series in 2024, 2025 and 2026. Granted, it’s pretty far away, but still an important feather in their cap.
“The guys you’re recruiting ... (ask) ‘what games am I playing in?’” Harsin said. “I think it’s smart on our part, I think our fans enjoy it, their fans enjoy it, coming here or going there. I think the matchups have been good.
“The game makes complete sense.”
— Harsin said former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano talked with the team after the scrimmage. Pagano, who maintains a residence in Boise, coached Boise State’s linebackers in 1987 and 1988. His nephew is junior linebacker Will Heffner.
— Walk-on defensive lineman Jacob Pinkney (Timberline High) has left the team. He was on the roster to start fall camp Aug. 3. Pinkney was previously announced as a signee at Idaho State in February.