Boise State Football

Players to watch, who has the edge as Boise State hosts No. 16 Fresno State

Boise State CB Tyler Horton on leading nation in fumble recoveries

Boise State senior cornerback Tyler Horton talks about forcing a big fumble against BYU and leading the country in recoveries.
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Boise State senior cornerback Tyler Horton talks about forcing a big fumble against BYU and leading the country in recoveries.


When the Broncos run the ball

Boise State is averaging 149.8 yards per game, slightly better than last year’s 143.5 (worst in 20 years), but junior Alexander Mattison is still on pace for 1,000 yards at 80.7 ypg. The Broncos have eclipsed 161 yards only twice, doing it against UConn and Nevada.

“The run game is effective, but we’d like to see more than 200 yards on the board at the end of the game. ... We’ve got to get to the second level, sustain our blocks and make it easy for Alex to bust it out,” sophomore offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland said.

The Bulldogs have been solid against the run, 30th nationally at 128.8 ypg. No team has rushed for 200 or more yards, and eight of nine opponents have gone for less than 150. Fresno State is tied for third nationally, having allowed only three runs of 20 yards or more.

Advantage: Fresno State

Boise State running back Alexander Mattison (22) staves off Colorado State defensive lineman Ellison Hubbard (98) on a run in the fourth quarter Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Darin Oswald

When the Broncos pass the ball

The Broncos have been very sharp through the air, 13th nationally in pass efficiency rating (158.99). QB Brett Rypien has been consistent, but Boise State is 2-1 with wins by four and five points when he doesn’t throw for 300 yards. He has all six of his INTs in those games.

It will be a very intriguing matchup as Fresno State is No. 2 in pass efficiency defense (93.17) with 15 interceptions to eight TDs, allowing a 48.1 completion percentage. Minnesota was the only team not to throw an interception to the Bulldogs, and the Gophers won.

“Their whole back end definitely does (stand out),” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.

Advantage: Push

When the Bulldogs run the ball

Just as Boise State has been inconsistent, so has Fresno State — the Bulldogs are 89th, the Broncos 88th nationally. Fresno State has 406 yards on the ground the last two games. Five running backs and QB Marcus McMaryion have between 130 and 306 yards rushing.

“They have a lot of guys out there, a big O-line that’s able to move pretty good — it’s going to be a challenge,” Boise State junior middle linebacker Tyson Maeva said.

The Broncos’ defense has thrived against sub-par rushing attacks, 28th in the nation with 128 yards allowed per game, and is one that would be even better if not for allowing five 50-yard runs. They’re allowing only 2.73 yards per carry minus those long plays.

Advantage: Boise State

Fresno St UCLA Football (6)
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion matches up against the Toledo Rockets on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, coming off his best game of the season, rushing for four touchdowns and passing for 270 yards in a 38-14 victory at UCLA . Marcio Jose Sanchez ASSOCIATED PRESS

When the Bulldogs pass the ball

Led by senior QB Marcus McMaryion, who is having an offensive player of the year season, Fresno State’s pass offense has been great. The Bulldogs are No. 8 in the nation in pass efficiency (164.46), with at least one TD and 67 percent of passes completed in every game.

Boise State has thrived with its pass rush setting the tone — the Broncos are fourth nationally with 31 sacks, while the Bulldogs are No. 3 having allowed only five sacks. The Broncos’ pass defense is 99th in efficiency, allowing 12 TDs with five interceptions and 234.4 ypg.

“(McMaryion) doesn’t get very rattled, doesn’t force many throws, so hopefully we can get some sacks, but we’ll see how it goes,” Boise State safety Jordan Happle said.

Advantage: Fresno State

Special teams

Boise State has been slightly more consistent recently after a rough start, but the Broncos have hampered themselves with nine penalties on punt or kickoff returns. One last week negated a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Kicker Haden Hoggarth missed his lone field goal last week, but is 7-of-11 on the year. Fresno State kicker Asa Fuller is 8-of-12.

The Bulldogs are 19th in net punting (40.6 per punt) but 74th and 103rd in punt and kickoff returns, respectively.

Advantage: Push



Tyler Horton, CB

A Fresno native, the senior leads the nation with four fumble recoveries (and has run two back for touchdowns). Against BYU, he narrowly missed an interception, turned around and stripped tight end Matt Bushman, then dove on the loose ball in the end zone.

“At the end of the day, you know what they say, good things happen when you run to the ball — I’m just going to keep running to the ball,” Horton said.

Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton (14) flexes after forcing a BYU turnover at the five yard line Saturday Nov. 3, 2018 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Darin Oswald

Jordan Happle, S

The sophomore has seen his role increase recently after missing five games with injury. Happle, who had an interception in the Las Vegas Bowl, had a career-best four tackles against BYU and was on the field for the final drive, supplanting Kekoa Nawahine.

“We all just do our job to the best of our abilities. ... It was pretty nerve-wracking, it was the biggest time I’ve ever played in a game, but it was cool,” Happle said.

Tyson Maeva, LB

He had the initial contact to take down Zach Wilson to seal the win over BYU, and with Riley Whimpey going down with a torn ACL, the junior will be relied upon for consistency and leadership. His 40 tackles are third on the team, behind Whimpey and Nawahine.

“It’s something I’ll hopefully tell my kids one day ... in a perfect world, you’d never want to be put in that situation, but it’s definitely something I’ll carry with me the rest of my life,” Maeva said.


Marcus McMaryion, QB

The Oregon State transfer had a great debut season in 2017, and has exceeded it as a senior — he’s No. 3 in the nation in completion percentage (70.3), has 20 TDs to just three interceptions while throwing for 2,416 yards and leads the team with seven rushing TDs.

“He’s smart, he’s got a good arm, has good eyes ... and he can run, he can make plays and extend them,” said Horton, who knew McMaryion growing up. “A guy like that makes the game difficult.”

Fresno St UNLV Football (2)
Fresno State wideout KeeSean Johnson tries to evade a tackle by UNLV Rebels defensive back Alex Perry (4) in the Bulldogs’ 48-3 victory at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. Johnson led Fresno State with eight receptions for 97 yards. John Locher ASSOCIATED PRESS

KeeSean Johnson, WR

One of the Mountain West’s most productive receivers, the 6-foot-2, 199-pound senior has 62 receptions for 868 yards and six TDs this season. He has at least five catches in each of his last 15 games and his 2,981 yards receiving are No. 3 among active FBS players.

“Length, speed, he’s been productive for a few years now, he runs past people, runs good intermediate routes and can blow the top off,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.

Jeff Allison, LB

An extremely productive 6-foot, 242-pound junior, Allison leads the Bulldogs with 84 tackles despite missing almost all of last Saturday’s win at UNLV. Coach Jeff Tedford said Allison should play, and he’ll need to anchor the defense against the potent Broncos.

“He’s their main guy, definitely,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.



4 Brett Rypien, 6-2, 202 (Sr.)

9 Jaylon Henderson, 6-1, 211 (Jr.)

3 Riley Smith, 6-4, 206 (Fr.)

Running back

22 Alexander Mattison, 5-11, 211 (Jr.)

34 Robert Mahone, 5-10, 204 (So.)

21 Andrew Van Buren, 6-0, 227 (Fr.)

Wide receiver

8 Sean Modster, 5-11, 189 (Sr.)

1 Octavius Evans, 6-1, 199 (So.) OR

16 John Hightower, 6-2, 183 (Jr.)

Wide receiver

6 CT Thomas, 5-8, 171 (So.)

81 Akilian Butler, 5-10, 192 (Jr.)

Wide receiver

7 A.J. Richardson, 6-0, 209 (Sr.)

2 Khalil Shakir, 6-0, 186 (Fr.)

Tight end

86 Chase Blakley, 6-4, 239 (Sr.)

85 John Bates, 6-6, 246 (So.)

47 Matt Pistone, 6-3, 244 (Jr.)

5 Garrett Collingham, 6-4, 229 (Jr.)

Left tackle

76 Ezra Cleveland, 6-6, 309 (So.)

69 Austin Dixon, 6-6, 289 (So.)

Left guard

77 John Molchon, 6-5, 310 (Jr.)

68 Jake Stetz, 6-2, 296 (RFr.)


67 Garrett Larson, 6-4, 298 (Jr.)

71 Donte Harrington, 6-2, 306 (So.)

Right guard

71 Donte Harrington, 6-2, 306 (So.)

79 Eric Quevedo, 6-4, 295 (Jr.)

66 Isiah Moore, 6-4, 292 (Jr.)

Right tackle

70 John Ojukwu, 6-6, 297 (RFr.)

78 Andres Preciado, 6-6, 295 (Sr.)

Defensive end

91 Durrant Miles, 6-6, 261 (Sr.)

45 Kayode Rufai, 6-4, 255 (So.)

Nose tackle

57 Emmanuel Fesili, 6-2, 319 (Jr.)

90 Scale Igiehon, 6-2, 300 (Fr.)

98 Sonatane Lui, 6-1, 305 (Jr.)

Defensive tackle

93 Chase Hatada, 6-3, 253 (Jr.)

54 Matt Locher, 6-2, 269 (Jr.)

40 Jabari Watson, 6-1, 253 (So.)

STUD end

8 Jabril Frazier, 6-4, 238 (Sr.)

99 Curtis Weaver, 6-3, 266 (So.)

53 Sam Whitney, 6-2, 233 (Jr.)

Weakside linebacker

7 Ezekiel Noa, 5-11, 243 (RFr.) OR

36 Blake Whitlock, 6-1, 214 (Sr.)

Middle linebacker

58 Tyson Maeva, 6-0, 228 (Jr.)

25 Benton Wickersham, 6-2, 230 (So.)

56 Joseph Inda, 6-0, 231 (Sr.)

Nickel/strongside LB

28 Kekaula Kaniho, 5-10, 185 (So.)

9 Desmond Williams, 5-11, 205 (So.)

41 Will Heffner, 6-2, 225 (Jr.)


14 Tyler Horton, 5-11, 197 (Sr.)

15 Jalen Walker, 6-0, 174 (So.)


26 Avery Williams, 5-9, 197 (So.)

30 Robert Lewis, 5-10, 176 (So.)

Boundary Safety

10 Kekoa Nawahine, 6-2, 207 (Jr.)

5 Evan Tyler, 6-2, 191 (Jr.)

Field Safety

21 Tyreque Jones, 6-2, 197 (RFr.)

32 Jordan Happle, 5-11, 199 (So.)


96 Haden Hoggarth, 6-0, 195 (Sr.) OR

46 Joel Velazquez, 6-0, 224 (So.)

Kick returner

26 Avery Williams, 5-9, 197 (So.) OR

16 John Hightower, 6-2, 183 (Jr.) OR

81 Akilian Butler, 5-10, 192 (Jr.)


49 Quinn Skillin, 6-4, 189 (Sr.) OR

46 Joel Velazquez, 6-0, 224 (So.)

Punt returner

26 Avery Williams, 5-9, 197 (So.) OR

2 Khalil Shakir, 6-0, 186 (Fr.)



6 Marcus McMaryion, 6-2, 203 (Sr.)

10 Jorge Reyna, 6-0, 215 (Jr.)


20 Ronnie Rivers, 5-8, 175 (So.)

33 Josh Hokit, 6-1, 220 (Jr.) OR

22 Jordan Mims, 5-11, 192 (So.) OR

11 Dejonte O’Neal, 5-7, 175 (Sr.)

Wide receiver

1 Jamire Jordan, 5-11, 170 (Sr.)

7 Derrion Grim, 6-1, 194 (Jr.)

Wide receiver

3 KeeSean Johnson, 6-2, 199 (Sr.)

82 Delvon Hardaway, 6-1, 197 (Sr.)

Wide receiver

13 Justin Allen, 5-11, 192 (Sr.) OR

2 Michiah Quick, 5-11, 180 (Sr.)

Tight end

16 Jared Rice, 6-5, 230 (Jr.)

89 Kyle Riddering, 6-6, 235 (Sr.)

Left tackle

58 Christian Cronk, 6-5, 305 (Sr.)

79 Nick Aibuedefe, 6-4, 274 (Jr.)

Left guard

62 Logan Hughes, 6-5, 285 (Sr.)

88 Nick Abbs, 6-5, 293 (Jr.)


51 Markus Boyer, 6-1, 300 (Sr.)

59 Matt Smith, 5-11, 280 (So.)

Right guard

73 Micah St. Andrew, 6-3, 327 (Sr.)

57 Jace Fuamatu, 6-3, 330 (Fr.)

Right tackle

65 Syrus Tuitele, 6-6, 305 (So.)

66 Quireo Woodley, 6-4, 295 (So.) OR

72 Dontae Bull, 6-6, 324 (RFr.)

Defensive end

3 Mykal Walker, 6-3, 220 (Jr.)

31 Andrew Wright, 6-2, 237 (So.)

Defensive tackle

93 Jasad Haynes, 6-1, 283 (Jr.)

94 Patrick Belony, 6-1, 305 (Sr.)

Defensive tackle

90 Kevin Atkins, 6-2, 300 (So.)

98 Keiti Iakopo, 5-11, 295 (Jr.)

Defensive end

33 Kwami Jones, 6-2, 50 (Jr.)

18 Isaiah Johnson, 6-3, 228 (Fr.)

Outside linebacker

34 George Helmuth, 6-1, 225 (Sr.)

11 Sherwin King, Jr., 5-11, 227 (Fr.)

Middle linebacker

9 Jeff Allison, 6-0, 242 (Jr.)

41 Dorrzel Hick, 5-10, 221 (Jr.)

Outside linebacker

53 Isaiah Kaufusi, 6-2, 210 (So.)

37 Matt Criddle, 6-1, 200 (RFr.)


6 Tank Kelly, 5-10, 183 (Sr.)

8 Wylan Free, 6-2, 178 (RFr.)


14 Jaron Bryant, 6-0, 176 (Jr.)

2 Chris Gaston, 6-1, 181 (RFr.)

Free Safety

4 Mike Bell, 6-3, 205 (Jr.)

38 Maamaloa Mafi, 5-11, 193 (Sr.)

Strong Safety

23 Juju Hughes, 5-11, 182 (Jr.)

27 Ka’Lonn Milton, 6-0, 185 (Jr.)


37 Asa Fuller, 6-2, 227 (RFr.)

97 Shane Ciucci, 5-8, 170 (Fr.)

Kick returner

11 Dejonte O’Neal, 5-7, 175 (Sr.)

1 Jamire Jordan, 5-11, 170 (Sr.)


47 Blake Cusick, 6-2, 190 (Jr.)

45 Carson King, 6-0, 182 (Fr.)

Punt returner

20 Ronnie Rivers, 5-8, 175 (So.)

3 KeeSean Johnson, 6-2, 199 (Sr.)