Bryan Harsin on Turnover Throne, Brett Rypien, season-opening win at Troy
All hail the Kings of Chaos.
The Boise State football team replaced its coveted turnover belt with a Turnover Throne on its sideline Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Alabama. It might be even cooler than Miami’s turnover chain, judging by the throne’s instant national attention — even with the game airing on little-watched ESPNEWS.
University of Idaho graduate transfer Tony Lashley became the first Bronco to occupy the throne during Boise State’s 56-20 victory over Troy. The senior linebacker intercepted Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker’s screen pass in the second quarter after cornerback Tyler Horton broke it up and the ball landed in Lashley’s hands.
Although Lashley was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection and the Vandals’ defensive MVP as a junior in 2017, with 123 total tackles, Saturday’s pick was the first of his collegiate career.
“It’s not really just about the chair itself. It’s about going out and creating opportunities, which our defense did tonight,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “We had four turnovers — two that we scored on. ... That doesn’t happen very often. I’m not sure it’s the chair, but the chair certainly made it more enjoyable on the sideline.”
During fall camp, the Boise State defensive player who created the most turnovers in practice got to ride a turnover bike to and from the practice field. The refurbished BMX bike was decked out with a gold seat, gold streamers and a gold football on the handlebars.
The bike didn’t accompany the Broncos to Alabama, making way for the throne’s debut.
Cornerbacks coach Jeff Popovich came up with the idea, and the defensive staff unveiled the throne to the team on Friday night.
“It was an exciting moment,” Horton said. “I know everybody was juiced for it.”
Last season’s turnover belt was a hit with the Boise State defense, which went from nine takeaways in 2016 to 26 in 2017.
It appears the Turnover Throne is already inspiring its desired result. The Broncos had four takeaways in their season opener against Troy.
After aiding Lashley’s interception, Horton recovered two Troy fumbles and returned them both for touchdowns in the second half, becoming just the fifth player in FBS history to do so in a single game.
“I had to get real comfortable in that seat,” Horton said. “I’ve got to make sure I see that throne a lot this year.”
Horton took advantage of forced fumbles by teammates Kekoa Nawahine and Durrant Miles, running them back 55 and 11 yards, respectively, for the scores. The team rule is that the person who recovers the fumble sits in the throne.
“If Kekoa didn’t hit him, I was never going to get the fumble, so I feel like he should be able to sit in the chair, too,” Horton said. “We could split it. I could go for like 10 seconds, then he could go for 10 seconds.”
In the closing minutes of the rout, Boise State redshirt freshman safety Tyreque Jones forced another Troy fumble, which was recovered by sophomore corner Jalen Walker.
What’s next? A Touchdown Throne for the offense?
“I don’t think so,” BSU quarterback Brett Rypien said. “We’re not that cool.”
A game of firsts
Boise State’s blowout win over Troy featured a number of firsts for the Broncos’ offense, starting with sophomore receiver CT Thomas’ first career touchdown reception.
On third-and-10, Thomas caught a 53-yard pass from Rypien down the middle of the field. The score gave the Broncos a 14-7 lead with 1:58 left in the first quarter. Thomas finished with three receptions for 68 yards, a career best.
After missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury, junior receiver Akilian Butler scored his first touchdown since 2015 on a 3-yard pass from Rypien in the second quarter. Butler had a 10-yard TD run in a 55-0 victory over Hawaii on Oct. 3, 2015.
“There’s just a mentality of anybody can get the ball at any time. A lot of those guys have waited their time,” Rypien said. “I was so happy to see (Butler) get in the end zone.”
Mountain View High graduate Garrett Collingham, a junior tight end, recorded his first career catch as a Bronco on an 11-yard pass from Rypien on third-and-10 in the third quarter. It was also the first catch of the 2018 season by a BSU tight end.
Collingham originally joined the Broncos as a walk-on at quarterback in 2015. He has spent time at receiver, linebacker and punter over the years, but finally feels settled at tight end.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Chase Cord scored the first touchdown of his career on a 44-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“That’s just a little sneak peek of what’s to come with Chase Cord,” Rypien said. “He’s just an unbelievable athlete.”
Pierce looks fierce
While the Turnover Throne hogged much of the defensive attention, Boise State junior safety DeAndre Pierce quietly matched his career high with a game-leading 12 total tackles (seven solo) against Troy.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder was the only player on either team to record double-digit tackles. Pierce also had 12 tackles in Boise State’s win over New Mexico last year.