Boise State Football

It’s not ‘too big for him’: Boise State QB race is in its infancy, but freshman steps up

Let us get it out of the way first — the Boise State football team has held just seven practices in March, including one scrimmage.

That being said, it sure looks as if true freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier is the real deal.

One of five scholarship quarterbacks looking to replace Brett Rypien as the Broncos’ starter, Bachmeier has taken the most first-team snaps along with senior Jaylon Henderson.

“I like the way he throws. He’s a really good thrower, he prepares himself very well ... he doesn’t seem to make the same mistake twice,” BSU coach Bryan Harsin said of Bachmeier.

A four-star recruit out of Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High, Bachmeier and fellow true freshman Kaiden Bennett enrolled early to get a leg up on the competition. Bachmeier was ranked by as the No. 6 pro-style QB recruit in the nation.

Harsin noted that Bachmeier is still extremely green regarding situational work and had a few sub-par throws in the team’s first spring scrimmage Thursday. He said those were typical of a first-year passer.

“When he’s been out there with the (first team), he’s run the show and he’s done very well,” Harsin said. “I don’t feel like it’s been too big for him.”

Following the Broncos’ closed scrimmage Thursday, Harsin offered a good glimpse into the early days of the quarterback battle. He said Bachmeier and Henderson have seen a majority of the first-team snaps, while redshirt freshman Riley Smith has often been with the second team, though a solid scrimmage likely earned him some more first-team work after spring break.

“He has that vision other guys don’t ... he’s gotten much better at throwing,” Harsin said of the 6-foot-4 Smith.

Bennett has primarily worked with the third-team offense, but has seen some work with the No. 2 group and has shown obvious improvements passing in the past week, Harsin said. At 5-11 and coming from a Folsom (Calif.) offense that was spread-heavy, he is still learning how to take long drops or work in more heavy formations, the coach said.

“He hasn’t gotten as many reps as some of the guys. ... When we’re a little bit more compact, that’s just different for him,” Harsin said.

Henderson, who spent the last half of the 2018 season as Rypien’s primary backup following Chase Cord’s ACL tear, has thrown just one pass for the Broncos.

“Jaylon has had a really solid camp so far. ... The little details, he understands better,” Harsin said.

As the veteran in the group that is practicing, despite having arrived only 14 months ago, Henderson has shown a leadership quality that is evident to his coaches, and he displayed it when he met with the media last week. He said that “a lot of people wish they were in this spot” and that he is appreciating the chance to compete for the starting job.

“I really have tried to tune up my mechanics in the offseason, got to go out with a bang as a senior,” Henderson said. “I came in here raw, enrolled about two weeks after I got offered, so having this time has been huge.”

Harsin said that when Cord returns, which the team hopes is before fall camp, he will be in the first- and second-team mix immediately. Cord has been around the quarterbacks in drills but is still rehabbing from his October injury and is not fully participating.

THREE INTERCEPTIONS FOR DEFENSE: In the closed scrimmage, Harsin said the quarterbacks threw fairly well, but the defense had three interceptions in the 40-play setup. Junior safety DeAndre Pierce, junior cornerback Avery Williams and sophomore safety Tyreque Jones had the picks. ... Redshirt freshman receiver Maclaine Griffin had a touchdown, as did freshman walk-on running back Marcus Washington.

Dave Southorn is a 2004 graduate from the University of Colorado. He has covered Boise State athletics since 2005, and worked at the Idaho Statesman since 2013. He’s won multiple Idaho Press Club awards and once won a contest designing a play for the Seattle Seahawks.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.