Boise State Football

Boise State’s Holani, Williams earn awards; Wyoming QB injured; another late kickoff added

Boise State running back George Holani and cornerback Avery Williams were named Mountain West players of the week Monday after both played major roles in Saturday’s come-from-behind victory at San Jose State.

Williams scored the Broncos’ first points of the game with a 66-yard punt return touchdown and Boise State went on to win, 52-42. It was his third career score on a punt and his fourth special teams touchdown. He also returned an onside kick for a score last season against Colorado State. He was named Mountain West special teams player of the week for the third time in his career.

“Avery did a good job, obviously, getting into space and creating and working off his blocks, which he has a great feel for,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said Monday during his weekly press conference. “That was huge momentum in that situation, too.”

While Williams got the praise on the field and after the game, Harsin said while reviewing the play on film with the team he likes to highlight the guys blocking as much as the one carrying the ball. Guys like true freshman cornerback Markel Reed, who Harsin said made a “good decision,” and wide receiver Octavius Evans, who made a big block.

He also mentioned senior safety Evan Tyler, who got knocked down early in the return but still found a way to make a key block, and redshirt freshman wide receiver Maclaine Griffin, who Harsin said took on an offensive lineman almost twice his size while looking back to find the ball and finished the block by putting the bigger man on his back.

“We showcase that probably more than we do the returner in that situation because those are the guys that are actually getting it done,” Harsin said.

Holani, a true freshman, earned his first conference offensive player of the week honor after setting career highs in carries (28), rushing yards (126) and rushing touchdowns (four). He’s the first Boise State player to score four rushing touchdowns in a game since Jeremy McNichols did so in 2016 against UNLV. Holani joins former Bronco Cedric Minter as the only true freshmen in program history to score four rushing touchdowns in a game. Minter did it in 1977 against Cal Poly.

Though he has played a sizable role in every game this season, Holani made his first career start on Saturday with junior running back Robert Mahone sidelined by an injury.

“George came in here and physically was more ready to play (than typical freshmen) and, I think, mentally. That’s probably the one thing we underestimated, too. He came from a really good high school and was ready to play,” Harsin said. “The guy’s got one speed. It’s full.”

Injured starters to return vs Wyoming

Harsin didn’t go into specifics Monday about a trio of starters who missed last weekend’s game at San Jose State, but he did say he expects all three in uniform Saturday when No. 21 Boise State hosts Wyoming (8:15 p.m., ESPN).

Mahone and safety Kekoa Nawahine were both injured in the first half of the Broncos’ loss to BYU on Oct. 19. Mahone didn’t even make the trip to San Jose State, and Nawahine was on the sideline in street clothes.

Offensive lineman John Molchon was a late scratch Saturday. He was replaced at left guard by junior Jake Stetz.

Cowboys’ QB done for the year

The Wyoming Cowboys (6-2, 3-1 MW) come to town this weekend with injury concerns of their own. During his weekly press conference Monday, Wyoming coach Craig Bohl confirmed that starting quarterback Sean Chambers will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Chambers was injured in the first half of the Cowboys’ 31-3 win over Nevada on Oct. 26 and did not play in the second half.

He started the first eight games of the season and accounted for 17 touchdowns. Chambers leads the team with 10 rushing touchdowns, and he was second on the roster with 567 rushing yards. His redshirt freshman season will end the same way as his true freshman season. Last fall, he went 3-0 as the starter and appeared in four games before suffering a season-ending leg injury against Air Force.

New Mexico kickoff time announced

Boise State’s final regular-season home game will be another late start. The Broncos’ contest against New Mexico on Nov. 16 will kick off at 8:15 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

It will be the ninth straight Boise State game that kicks off at 7 p.m. or later this season, and the Broncos’ road game at Utah State on Nov. 23 already has been announced as an 8:30 p.m. start.

New Mexico (2-7, 0-5 MWC) is home this weekend against Air Force.


When: 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday

Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,367 turf), Boise

TV: ESPN (Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer, Lauren Sisler)

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

Records: Boise State is 7-1 overall, 4-0 Mountain West; Wyoming 6-2, 3-1.

Series: Boise State leads 12-1 (last meeting: Boise State won 34-14 in 2018 in Laramie, Wyoming)

Vegas line: Boise State by 13

Weather: 59 degrees, partly cloudy, 6 mph wind

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Ron Counts is the Boise State beat writer for the Idaho Statesman. He’s a Virginia native and spent that past three years covering University of Virginia.