Thomas Sperbeck, wide receiver
Nobody has benefited more from the quarterback switch than Sperbeck. He has 11 catches for 254 yards and three touchdowns since true freshman Brett Rypien became the Broncos’ quarterback in the second half of the Idaho State game. That’s about 100 yards per game and 23.1 yards per catch.
Sperbeck had 11 catches for 94 yards without a TD with Ryan Finley and Tommy Stuart at quarterback. That’s about 37 yards per game and 8.5 yards per catch.
With Rypien throwing, Sperbeck has catches of 46, 64, 51, 30 and 21 yards. All came on vertical routes.
“It feels good,” Sperbeck said. “With those (first two games), you know that’s going to happen throughout the year. It happens to a lot of receivers. You just have to be patient and know the offense is going to start rolling eventually.”
Sperbeck isn’t known as the Broncos’ deep threat, but he has proven potent on those routes. Last year, he didn’t have a catch of 40-plus yards after the Oct. 24 game against BYU. Much of his damage was done on routes over the middle that allowed him to run with the ball. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch.
This year, he ranks fourth in the Mountain West at 15.8 yards per catch — a number that is rising quickly.
“I haven’t run a lot of deep routes, so I think maybe the defenses are sleeping on me,” Sperbeck said. “I don’t know — I’ve just been able to get open.”
Tyler Horn, defensive end
Horn recorded his first sack in 13 months last week against Hawaii. He had a sack in last year’s season opener before sustaining a season-ending injury later in that game.
He returned for a second crack at his senior season in 2015 and has been part of the Broncos’ dominant No. 1 defensive line.
“It’s just been really fun,” Horn said. “This year has been probably one of the funnest years of football I’ve played. I’m just enjoying every moment of it and improving every week. ... I love practice. I love the games. I love everything we’re doing right now as a defense and the dudes we get to play with.”
Horn has 12 tackles, second-most on the defensive line.
“I got the first (sack) out of the way,” he said. “It took a little longer than I wanted it to. It felt really good to get after the quarterback a little bit.”
Kelsey Young, tailback
Young has emerged as a solid complement to starter Jeremy McNichols over the past three games. Young has 25 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns (4.96 yards per carry) during that stretch.