Boise State Football

Who has the edge and players to watch as Boise State battles Marshall on The Blue

Boise State OC Zak Hill on QB Hank Bachmeier: ‘He’s not afraid to go make plays’

Boise State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zak Hill spoke to the media about quarterback Hank Bachmeier in advance of the Marshall game.
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Boise State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zak Hill spoke to the media about quarterback Hank Bachmeier in advance of the Marshall game.

WHO HAS THE EDGE?

When the Broncos run the ball

Marshall had one of the nation’s stingiest run defenses last season at 2.95 yards per carry (No. 6 nationally) and has gone 15 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. The Herd have lost some key players from that group, including a neck injury to linebacker Jaquan Yulee last week, but the Broncos expect a fight in the trenches.

The Broncos are coming off a game in which they ran for 214 yards (3.8 per carry) against a difficult Florida State front. Tailbacks Robert Mahone, George Holani and Andrew Van Buren combined for 231 rushing yards and two scores.

“It wasn’t enough for us,” running backs coach Lee Marks said.

The offensive line likely will be missing right tackle John Ojukwu, who was on crutches at the end of the Florida State game. Former walk-on Jake Stetz stepped in at left guard and senior John Molchon moved to right tackle. Offensive line coach Brad Bedell had made that decision weeks in advance.

“I just felt that was the best combination to win the football game,” he said.

Edge: Boise State

When the Broncos pass the ball

True freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier looked poised and comfortable leading the Broncos in the opener. He’s going to have some ups and downs — that’s the way it goes with a freshman — but he has so many weapons around him that he shouldn’t go into extended funks. He threw for 407 yards against Florida State.

“The competitiveness stood out,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “... There were some mistakes, but the leadership and the confidence and toughness overcame a lot of that.”

Marshall tied for 13th last season with 28 sacks and only allowed 17 touchdown passes, so the Herd are capable of causing problems for Bachmeier. The Broncos must protect him better — they allowed six sacks last week, five of Bachmeier.

Edge: Push

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Marshall running back Tyler King breaks upfield on a carry against VMI’s Kaleb Tucker. Sholten Singer AP

When the Thundering Herd run the ball

The Herd were an average rushing team last season (4.5 yards per carry) but started this year with a 280-yard outing against VMI. Four players, including quarterback Isaiah Green, gained at least 40 yards.

Junior Tyler King led the way with 75 yards last week and is trying to top the team in rushing for the third straight year. He contributed 655 yards last year and 820 yards as a freshman.

Boise State has a veteran front seven that allowed Cam Akers to rush for 116 yards last week but limited the Seminoles to 99 net yards as a team (3.5 per carry).

Edge: Boise State

When the Thundering Herd pass the ball

Green started nine games last season, posting a 7-2 record with both losses coming against ACC teams. His numbers weren’t outstanding — he was 75th in the nation in pass effiency with 15 TDs, 10 interceptions and 2,459 passing yards — but he got off to a great start against VMI. He was 18-for-28 for 238 yards and four touchdowns last week.

Three receivers averaged at least 27 yards per catch in the opener, and redshirt freshman Corey Gammage led the team with five catches for 82 yards. Five players caught touchdown passes.

Boise State’s pass defense was flawed at times last year, and the same was true in the opener. But after an ugly start, the Broncos finished with four sacks and allowed only one third-down conversion to the Seminoles.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to be ready to go with our ‘A’ game,” defensive coordiantor Jeff Schmedding said.

Edge: Boise State

Special teams

The Broncos got a huge boost from new kicker Eric Sachse, who made five field goals at Florida State. But they did little else of note on special teams and failed to control field position in the punt game.

The Herd opened with a 67-yard punt return for a TD by Talik Keaton and a 44.7-yard punting average from Robert LeFevre. They were a top-20 team on special teams last year, when Boise State was dreadful. Senior kicker Justin Rohrwasser didn’t try a field goal last week but was 15-for-21 last year with a long of 40 yards.

Edge: Marshall

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Boise State true freshman running back George Holani gained 103 yards from scrimmage in his first college game at Florida State. Gary McCullough AP

PLAYERS TO WATCH

BOISE STATE

Khalil Shakir, WR

The 6-foot, 186-pound sophomore had single-game career highs for catches (8) and receiving yards (78) against Florida State last week, highlighted by an acrobatic 11-yard touchdown grab with 2:50 left in the third quarter. Shakir’s eight receptions are already half of his 2018 total of 16. With junior CT Thomas’ status uncertain, Shakir could see even more playing time against Marshall.

“You’ve just got to be ready to go every play, just attacking every play with the same mentality that I am going to get the ball,” Shakir said. “Whether I do or I don’t, just making sure I’m always ready for it.”

Kekaula Kaniho, N

His six total tackles, including four tackles for loss, paced the Boise State defense against Florida State. Kaniho’s strip sack of FSU QB James Blackman led to a Boise State touchdown. The 5-10, 182-pound junior had three interceptions last season and is believed to be the only Bronco in program history to score TDs via interception return, fumble return and punt return.

“He, like a lot of people, didn’t start the game like he wanted to,” defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding said. “... But you talk about flipping the switch. He flipped the switch a little bit earlier than other guys, and took advantage of those situations. He played an excellent game from about the second or third series on.”

George Holani, RB

The 5-11, 192-pound true freshman from Bellflower, California, made his case for more playing time in his collegiate debut. He rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries — an average of 5.0 yards per carry — and caught two passes for 33 yards. His 70 rushing yards were second only to junior starter Robert Mahone’s 142.

“George played at a really big-time high school (St. John Bosco), and obviously they had a lot of attention around,” running backs coach Lee Marks said. “I don’t really think the lights and all that really got to him at all just by the way he played. It was more so him just getting used to the speed of the game.”

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Marshall quarterback Isaiah Green scrambles upfield on a keeper against VMI. Sholten Singer AP

MARSHALL

Levi Brown, C

With 38 career starts, the 6-4, 297-pound senior nicknamed “Every Down” Levi Brown was named to both the Rimington and Outland trophy watch lists. He is a reigning first-team all-CUSA pick and leads a Herd offensive line that returns four starters.

“They’ve got a physical O-line, and a lot of tradition over there for their program, same thing like us, so I think it’s gonna be a physical matchup,” Boise State nickel Kekaula Kaniho said.

Isaiah Green, QB

Green, a 6-2, 207-pound sophomore, threw a career-high four touchdown passes last week against VMI. It was the most for a Marshall QB since 2016. Green passed for 238 yards and rushed for 46 more as the Herd racked up 620 yards, the most for the program since gaining 630 at Charlotte in 2015.

“You can tell last year from game one to the bowl game how much he matured and he played his best game in that bowl game as far as the offense was concerned,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday told The Register-Herald. “We saw that carry over into camp. He’s had an excellent camp and he’s playing really confident right now. He’s got some good players around him.”

Channing Hames, DT

Named to the CUSA preseason all-conference team, the 6-5, 258-pound senior has 14 career sacks, which is the most of any returning Marshall player. Hames, who was the defensive MVP of the 2017 New Mexico Bowl, recorded one sack and three total tackles in Marshall’s season opener.

“We’ve got to bring it this week. Marshall’s really, really good,” Boise State running backs coach Lee Marks said. “It’s a great opportunity for us and we have a ton of respect for that program. They’re gonna come in swinging.”

BOISE STATE DEPTH CHART

Quarterback

19 Hank Bachmeier, 6-1, 202 (Fr.)

10 Chase Cord, 6-2, 208 (RSo.)

9 Jaylon Henderson, 6-1, 210 (RSr.)

Running back

34 Robert Mahone, 5-10, 218 (RJr.)

21 Andrew Van Buren, 6-0, 223 (So.)

24 George Holani, 5-11, 192 (Fr.)

Wide receiver

16 John Hightower, 6-2, 172 (Sr.)

1 Octavius Evans, 6-1, 209 (Jr.)

Wide receiver

6 CT Thomas, 5-8, 182 (Jr.) OR

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

Wide receiver

7 Akilian Butler, 5-10, 182 (RSr.)

82 Stefan Cobbs, 6-0, 178 (RFr.)

18 Billy Bowens, 6-1, 187 (RFr.)

Tight end

85 John Bates, 6-6, 255 (RJr.)

5 Garrett Collingham, 6-4, 242 (RSr.)

47 Matt Pistone, 6-3, 246 (RSr.)

88 Tyneil Hopper, 6-2, 231 (RFr.)

Left tackle

76 Ezra Cleveland, 6-6, 310 (RJr.)

73 Nick Crabtree, 6-7, 295 (RJr.)

Left guard

77 John Molchon, 6-5, 318 (RSr.)

72 Dallas Holliday, 6-3, 306 (RFr.)

Center

67 Garrett Larson, 6-4, 303 (RSr.)

55 Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez, 6-2, 293 (RFr.)

Right guard

79 Eric Quevedo, 6-4, 302 (RSr.)

68 Jake Stetz, 6-2, 294 (RSo.)

Right tackle

70 John Ojukwu, 6-6, 300 (RSo.)

69 Garrett Curran, 6-5, 292 (RFr.)

Defensive end

93 Chase Hatada, 6-3, 262 (Sr.)

54 Matt Locher, 6-2, 270 (RSr.) OR

40 Jabari Watson, 6-1, 269 (RJr.)

Nose tackle

98 Sonatane Lui, 6-1, 283 (Sr.)

57 Emmanuel Fesili, 6-2, 312 (Sr.) OR

90 Scale Igiehon, 6-2, 306 (So.)

Defensive tackle

55 David Moa, 6-3, 296 (6YSr.)

62 Scott Matlock, 6-4, 283 (RFr.)

STUD end

99 Curtis Weaver, 6-3, 265 (RJr.)

38 Demetri Washington, 6-3, 254 (RFr.)

Weak-side linebacker

44 Riley Whimpey, 6-1, 233 (Jr.)

48 Bruno DeRose, 5-11, 223 (RJr.) OR

3 Brandon Hawkins, 6-2, 217 (RFr.)

Middle linebacker

7 Ezekiel Noa, 5-11, 242 (RSo.)

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

Nickel/strong-side LB

28 Kekaula Kaniho, 5-10, 182 (Jr.)

20 Roman Kafentzis, 6-1, 212 (RSo.)

Cornerback

26 Avery Williams, 5-9, 198 (RJr.)

8 Markel Reed, 6-0, 176 (Fr.)

Cornerback

15 Jalen Walker, 6-0, 179 (RJr.)

22 Tyric LeBeauf, 6-2, 180 (RFr.)

Boundary Safety

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

33 JL Skinner, 6-4, 213 (Fr.)

Field Safety

4 DeAndre Pierce, 5-11, 180 (RJr.)

21 Tyreque Jones, 6-2, 201 (RSo.) OR

5 Evan Tyler, 6-2, 195 (RSr.)

Kicker

36 Eric Sachse, 5-10, 198 (RSr.)

46 Joel Velazquez, 6-0, 225 (RJr.)

Kick returner

16 John Hightower, 6-2, 172 (Sr.)

26 Avery Williams, 5-9, 198 (RJr.)

Punter

46 Joel Velazquez, 6-0, 225 (RJr.)

36 Eric Sachse, 5-10, 198 (RSr.)

Punt returner

26 Avery Williams, 5-9, 198 (RJr.)

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

MARSHALL DEPTH CHART

Quarterback

17 Isaiah Green, 6-2, 207 (RSo.)

6 Alex Thomson, 6-5, 220 (RSr.)

Running back

20 Brenden Knox, 6-0, 220 (RSo.) OR

3 Tyler King, 6-0, 190 (RJr.)

Wide receiver

10 Tavin Richardson, 6-3, 213 (RSr.)

88 Broc Thompson, 6-2, 176 (Fr.)

Wide receiver

7 Obi Obialo, 6-3, 214 (Sr.)

19 Stone Scarcelle, 6-1, 201 (RSo.)

Wide receiver

9 Talik Keaton, 6-1, 180 (RFr.)

30 Simino Walden, 5-8, 184 (RJr.) OR

2 Artie Henry, 6-1, 181 (Sr.)

Tight end

15 Armani Levias, 6-4, 255 (RSr.) OR

11 Xavier Gaines, 6-3, 221 (RJr.)

83 Devin Miller, 6-3, 229 (RSo.)

Left tackle

50 Will Ulmer, 6-5, 295 (RJr.) OR

79 Josh Ball, 6-8, 350 (RJr.)

Left guard

55 Alex Mollette, 6-3, 290 (RJr.)

54 Zack Ferris, 6-5, 318 (RFr.)

Center

61 Levi Brown, 6-4, 297 (RSr.)

78 Alex Salguero, 6-4, 325 (RJr.)

Right guard

62 Cain Madden, 6-3, 338 (RJr.)

63 James Magee, 6-4, 304 (RSo.)

Right tackle

71 Tarik Adams, 6-4, 333 (RJr.) OR

79 Josh Ball, 6-8, 350 (RJr.)

Defensive end

44 Darius Hodge, 6-2, 238 (RSo.)

56 Koby Cumberlander, 6-3, 241 (RSo.)

9 Fermin Silva, 6-2, 240 (RSr.)

Nose tackle

85 Milan Lanier, 6-5, 266 (RSr.)

60 Joey Maddox, 6-0, 270 (RSr.)

38 Arak McDuffie, 6-5, 256 (RFr.)

Defensive tackle

94 Channing Hames, 6-5, 258 (RSr.)

92 Rodney Croom, 6-3, 260 (RSo.)

99 Jamare Edwards, 6-3, 260 (RSo.)

Defensive end

6 Marquis Couch, 6-1, 255 (RSr.)

33 Sam Burton, 6-1, 234 (RFr.)

43 Owen Porter, 6-2, 240 (RFr.)

Strong-side linebacker

32 Tyler Brown, 6-2, 219 (RSr.)

25 J’Coryan Anderson, 6-2, 227 (Fr.)

Middle linebacker

31 Omari Cobb, 6-4, 223 (Sr.)

24 Eli Neal, 6-1, 225 (Fr.)

Weak-side linebacker

4 Tavante Beckett, 5-10, 209 (RJr.)

40 Domenick Murphy, 6-1, 216 (RSo.)

Cornerback

3 Chris Jackson, 6-0, 186 (Sr.) OR

34 Steven Gilmore, 5-11, 163 (So.)

Cornerback

5 Kereon Merrell, 5-11, 180 (RSr.) OR

7 Jaylon McClain-Sapp, 5-11, 179 (RJr.)

Free Safety

13 Nazeeh Johnson, 5-10, 190 (RJr.)

21 Micah Abraham, 5-10, 169 (Fr.) OR

35 E.J. Jackson, 6-1, 180 (Fr.)

Strong Safety

8 Brandon Drayton, 6-3, 197 (RJr.)

1 Derrek Pitts, 6-0, 189 (Jr.)

Kicker

16 Justin Rohrwasser, 6-3, 230 (RSr.) OR

96 Shane Ciucci, 5-8, 175 (RFr.)

Kick returner

1 Willie Johnson, 6-0, 180 (RJr.)

5 Sheldon Evans, 5-11, 196 (RSo.)

20 Brenden Knox, 6-0, 220 (RSo.)

Punter

43 Robert LeFevre, 6-2, 200 (RJr.)

8 Grant Wells, 6-2, 204 (Fr.)

Punt returner

9 Talik Keaton, 6-1, 180 (RFr.)

2 Artie Henry, 6-1, 181 (Sr.) OR

84 Joey Fields, 5-8, 169 (RSr.)

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