Boise State Football

Minus two veteran starters, Boise State defense still puts up dominant effort

Bryan Harsin on Boise State’s big win in home opener

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin addresses the media after the Broncos' 62-7 rout of UConn in the home opener.
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Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin addresses the media after the Broncos' 62-7 rout of UConn in the home opener.

Boise State spent much of the offseason discussing a hope to build “dependable depth” on its defense, and thus far, it has shown up.

The Broncos were without two key starters in Saturday’s 62-7 win over UConn at Albertsons Stadium — senior defensive tackle David Moa and junior middle linebacker Tyson Maeva.

Moa has yet to play this season, while Maeva was a surprise scratch. A starter in 14 of the last 15 games, he played in the opener at Troy and suited up Saturday.

“Just didn’t need him,” Harsin said, not elaborating on if the decision was injury- or suspension-related.

In Maeva’s place, sophomore Benton Wickersham made his second career start. The walk-on from Elko, Nev., tied for the team lead with five tackles.

“He’s a great player,” sophomore linebacker Riley Whimpey said. “He’s very consistent and he knows his stuff and that’s why he’s able to come out on a night like this ... and be consistent and be successful in what he does.”

Harsin said Moa has been close to playing. Junior Chase Hatada started in his place, while junior Matt Locher saw plenty of time in that spot, too.

RYPIEN MATCHES A MOORE MARK

Boise State senior quarterback Brett Rypien was 21-of-28 passing for 362 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the 16th 300-yard passing game of his career, a number that ties him with Kellen Moore atop the Boise State record book.

“Any time you’re in a conversation with Kellen Moore, I think that’s something to be said in itself,” Rypien said. “He was, in my opinion, the greatest college football player of all time, so definitely an honor for sure.”

Rypien was 20-of-28 in the opener at Troy for 305 yards with four touchdowns.

BUM ELBOW DOESN’T BOTHER WILLIAMS

Sophomore cornerback Avery Williams hurt his right elbow in the fourth quarter last Saturday at Troy. He made the start against UConn despite wearing a brace, and still managed to haul in an interception in the first quarter on a deflected pass.

“I thought it was pretty impressive that he came up with a pick today with that brace on,” Whimpey said. “Throughout the whole week I was like, ‘How’s your elbow doing? Does it hurt?’ He was out there at practice doing everything and I was like, ‘Wow, he’s a tough guy.’ ”

Williams did not handle his usual punt return duties. Instead, true freshman wide receiver Khalil Shakir did, with 44 yards on four returns.

QUICK HITS

Sophomore linebacker Desmond Williams carried the Hammer. ... Senior kicker Haden Hoggarth hit both field-goal attempts, including a career-long 44-yarder in the second quarter. ... A week after leading the Broncos in receptions, senior receiver Sean Modster had a team-best six for 74 yards. He was the game’s honorary captain. ... Saturday was the Broncos’ first 60-point home game since a 60-7 win over Southern Mississippi on Sept. 28, 2013. ... Senior Skyler Seibold, a converted safety, and junior quarterback Jaylon Henderson had their first carries for the Broncos. Seibold had seven carries for 35 yards, Henderson had four for 30.

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