Long before no-huddle offenses made it a necessity, the Boise State football program was known for its frequent substitutions and shared starting jobs.
The Broncos have done it at nearly every position — but not quarterback.
Sophomore Tommy Stuart and true freshman Brett Rypien will split time at quarterback Friday night at Virginia, coach Bryan Harsin announced Sunday. He doesn’t plan to name a starter.
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The duo replaces sophomore starter Ryan Finley, who sustained a broken bone in his right ankle Friday night against Idaho State and will miss about eight weeks, Harsin said.
Stuart and Rypien led the Broncos to 45 of their 52 points in the win against the Bengals.
“I did like the combination of Tommy and Ryp,” Harsin said. “What type of packages we put together this week and how much each one is going to have an opportunity to go in there and run it, that’s still a work in progress. ... I feel good about the quarterback position.”
Neither had played in a major college football game until Finley was injured Friday night.
As coaches planned, Stuart entered immediately. He was 9-for-13 for 69 yards with a touchdown and three sacks. His drives ended with three touchdowns and two punts.
The coaches decided at halftime to play Rypien because they knew Finley’s injury wasn’t short term. Rypien went 8-for-9 for 126 yards. His three drives with the first team resulted in touchdowns and his last drive, with the second team, netted a field goal.
The quarterbacks operated from the same playbook but offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz emphasized Stuart’s running ability and each guy executed in a different way.
“Brett did a great job finding his check down,” Drinkwitz said. “Tommy did a great job running with his feet. Both of them were effective with doing that. ... We’re going to run our offense. We’ll play to their strengths, but it won’t be drastic.”
The old adage is that if you have two quarterbacks that means you don’t have one, but Drinkwitz sees some advantage to game-planning for two.
“The advantages are I know exactly what we’re going to do for each guy and can get those guys those reps and play to their strengths and I don’t know that anybody else does,” Drinkwitz said. “I don’t think the outside world does. We’ll have a little bit of new things for them.”
On the other hand, he’ll face perhaps the most athletic defense the Broncos will see this year in a hostile environment with a quarterback who never has faced an FBS opponent.
“You just don’t know what you’re going to get from those guys yet, as far as live bullets in an away game with a hostile crowd,” Drinkwitz said. “There’s still a lot of growing that has to happen.”
Whatever the plan is going into the game, it likely will be flexible based on performance, Drinkwitz said.
“If one guy gets the hot hand, kind of like running back, you usually let him get in there and keep rolling,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Broncos could face an interesting decision when Finley gets healthy. If he returns after eight weeks, that would put him back on the field for the Air Force game on Nov. 20. But if he doesn’t play again this season he likely will be eligible for a sixth year of eligibility because he was out with a shoulder injury for the entire 2013 season and hasn’t played in 30 percent of the Broncos’ games in 2015.
The full extent of Finley’s injury and recovery time won’t be known until doctors check him out Monday, Harsin said.
While he’s out, coaches expect Finley to assist Stuart and Rypien.
“He’s going to help this football team,” Harsin said. “One thing about Finley is he’s very bright. He understands the game. He’s a very good leader. He’s going to help our football team. That’s part of his job. Regardless of whether he’s playing or not, he’s going to continue to be our quarterback.”
Perez to redshirt
Junior defensive end Gabe Perez will have shoulder surgery and redshirt, Harsin said. He would have played on the No. 2 defensive line but hasn’t appeared in a game this season.
True freshman Durrant Miles, a returning missionary, played against Idaho State and will provide additional depth at end.
Senior defensive end Rondell McNair is out four weeks with an MCL injury.
The players of the game against Idaho State were tight end Holden Huff (offense), linebacker Tyler Gray (defense), punt returner Donte Deayon (special teams), guard Travis Averill (offensive line) and tackle Justin Taimatuia (defensive line). ... The Broncos leave Wednesday afternoon for the Friday night kickoff because of the cross-country travel. At 1,999 miles, it’s the 10th-longest trip within the continental U.S. by an FBS team this season, according to Boise State.