Shane Williams-Rhodes, wide receiver
At the end of the 2014 regular season, Williams-Rhodes was on pace to break the school record for career receptions.
And then he disappeared.
Zero catches in the Mountain West championship game.
Zero catches in the Fiesta Bowl.
Two catches, for just 16 yards, in this year’s opener against Washington.
All with no explanation for why a player who was one of the most active members of the offense became a decoy.
“Playing receiver, you never know what’s going to happen,” Williams-Rhodes said. “You just go out there, run your route and just trust that the quarterback is going to make the right throw and he’s going to put it where it’s supposed to be.”
Finally last week at BYU, Williams-Rhodes’ marquee role returned. He made 11 catches — on a variety of routes — for 107 yards.
It was the senior’s highest reception total since the 2014 opener (14) and second career 100-yard game.
With 183 career receptions, he ranks fifth in school history and needs 61 to tie Matt Miller’s school record.
“That’s something that we took away from week one — he’s a proven playmaker in this conference and so it was important for us to get him the ball,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said. “He did a great job, and we should have gotten it to him more. ... Week one, there were some things where we were trying to get it to him and the defense took it away from us. It was just a focus that this is what we’ve got to do.”
Justin Taimatuia, defensive tackle
Taimatuia opened fall camp competing for time with returning starter Armand Nance at nose tackle.
Taimatuia exited as the starter at three-technique tackle because he showed he was one of the Broncos’ two best tackles regardless of position.
And he has looked terrific in the first two games while recording six tackles, including a sack on Washington’s final drive. Another tackle for loss was wiped out against BYU because he wasn’t wearing his helmet.
“I’m just trying to be consistent at the little things,” Taimatuia said. “I know if I can maintain that I have a better chance of playing a lot more.”
Jeremy McNichols, tailback
Boise State’s game-by-game records date to the beginning of the 1969 season, the program’s second at the four-year level. McNichols is the first to score the team’s first five touchdowns of the season in that time. He has four on the ground and one on a screen pass.