Boise State Football

Boise State’s tight ends make major contributions — even in a way you’d never expect

Boise State TE John Bates: ‘I actually love run blocking’

Boise State junior tight end John Bates has eight catches for 114 yards through the Broncos' first two games. The uptick in receptions hasn't changed the way he feels about opening up holes for his teammates.
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Boise State junior tight end John Bates has eight catches for 114 yards through the Broncos' first two games. The uptick in receptions hasn't changed the way he feels about opening up holes for his teammates.

Maybe it’s a holdover from his days as a quarterback, but senior Garrett Collingham spotted something against Marshall last Friday and passed it along.

Boise State tight ends 1, Marshall defense 0.

“Collingham’s one of our smartest football players,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said during his Monday press conference. “I won’t tell you what plays, but I’ll tell you this: He helped make some decisions in the game for our quarterback about where he should throw the ball or what he should do with the ball. And he was right.”

While their statistical impact in the passing game has varied from year to year (33 catches last year; 56 in 2017), Boise State tight ends are making their presence known early in 2019. Junior John Bates is two receptions away from matching his 2018 season total with eight grabs for 114 yards in the Broncos’ first two games. Collingham had five total receptions for 58 yards a year ago and is already up to two catches for 46 yards.

“They’re big targets and they’ve been really consistent,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “I think our quarterbacks really trust them, whether he’s the primary target or whether it’s a checkdown or under option, they’re guys that we can count on. They can use their body to create some space, and they’ve just been good targets for us. We want to continue to utilize them.”

At 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds, Bates is the tallest and biggest of the group. He looked unstoppable against Marshall with career highs for receptions (five) and yards (63). His 27-yard grab near the end of the second quarter was a moment coaches would like to see more.

“You slow down the film, he goes up and he turns his body around, gets his eyes on the ball and snatches it,” Harsin said. “He’s a big ol’ target. He’s 7-foot when his arms are all stretched out there, and (quarterback) Hank (Bachmeier) finally found him. That was good to see.”

Bates and Collingham (6-4, 242) combined for seven receptions against Marshall, and five of those went for 11 or more yards, including three of 22 or more. Senior Matt Pistone (6-3, 246) and redshirt freshman Tyneil Hopper (6-2, 231) also have logged playing time this season.

“I’ve been really impressed with everything they’ve done so far,” tight ends coach Kent Riddle said. “It’s early in the season, but those guys have prepared well. They’ve come out and they’ve played well.”

Getting their hands on the football isn’t necessarily the ultimate goal or reward for Boise State’s tight ends. They’ve come to relish the role they play in making their teammates the stars.

“I actually love run blocking,” Bates said. “When I first got here it wasn’t initially my first thought, but I had to eventually step into that role and fill it, so I’ve learned to come to love run blocking.”

Added Riddle: “If you go back and watch the game, it’s not just the pass game where he’s making some plays and being dominant. You can find some runs where he’s moving dudes and finishing.”

PORTLAND STATE AT NO. 22 BOISE STATE

When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)

TV: ESPN2 (Mike Couzens, Kirk Morrison)

Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

Records: Boise State 2-0, Portland State 1-1

Series: Boise State leads 6-1 (last meeting: Boise State won 21-14 on Oct. 8, 2005)

Vegas line: Boise State by 31 1/2

Weather: 86 degrees, sunny

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