Boise State Football

Bronco Blitz: Boise State players to watch against Air Force

kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Thomas Sperbeck, wide receiver

Sperbeck needs 6 yards to break Titus Young’s school record for receiving yards in a season from 2010. He needs 20 catches to break Matt Miller’s school record for receptions in a season from 2013.

Sperbeck has 69 catches for 1,210 yards. He leads the Mountain West in both categories and ranks fourth in the nation in yards.

In Brett Rypien’s seven starts, Sperbeck has 57 catches for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns. He has accumulated at least 150 receiving yards in four of the past five games.

“He just has a really good understanding of the game, whether it’s adjusting a route against a certain coverage or just always (having) a good feel for getting open,” Rypien said. “Obviously he’s got great hands as well. You put the ball in the vicinity, he’s going to make a play. Just week by week we’ve been gaining more trust. I know he’s going to make a play in critical situations.”

Sperbeck’s season likely will go down as the greatest by a receiver in Boise State history, topping NFL Draft picks like Young and Austin Pettis and his mentor Miller.

“It’s definitely cool to just be in the same sentence as guys who set those records,” Sperbeck said. “That’s definitely the coolest part. But this is not really the right time to think about that.”

Sperbeck averages 17.5 yards per reception in large part because of his ability to crank out yardage after the catch.

The three criteria for playing receiver at Boise State: explode off the ball, catch the ball and run after the catch.

“You can do a lot of stuff to work on the first two,” Sperbeck said. “The third part, it’s kind of how bad do you want it.”

Donte Deayon, cornerback

Deayon hopes to make an appearance on Senior Day. He had surgery to repair a lateral meniscus after the Utah State game in mid-October. He hasn’t played since, missing three games.

The injury had bothered him all season, he said.

“It finally came to the boiling point,” Deayon said. “We managed it well. The training staff did a great job of keeping me healthy all year. It got to the point where I had to get it done.”

He anticipates a “special” evening on Friday.

“It’s special — the blue — it might be my last game on it,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Justin Taimatuia, defensive tackle

Taimatuia has been the Broncos’ most consistent lineman this year. He has 22 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and two pass breakups. He also scored a touchdown.

Taimatuia is trying to soak up everything he can as his career dwindles.

“I just want time to slow down,” he said. “I never thought I would see this moment.”

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