There is no quarterback controversy this year.
Sophomore Brett Rypien has established himself as Boise State’s rock-solid starter, and with it, some continuity after starting the final 10 games of last season.
“With how long he’s been in there now, having the spring and the summer, it lets you get started at a higher level,” senior receiver Thomas Sperbeck said. “Everyone’s on the same page. He’s been a great leader in that aspect.”
This time last year, Rypien lost the starting battle to Ryan Finley (now at North Carolina State), with Tommy Stuart and Alex Ogle (now at Arizona Western) also in the mix. Only Stuart, a junior, returns so depth has taken a hit even as Rypien’s grasp on the offense has grown.
“I feel very comfortable with the offense. Last year coming into fall camp, there was still a lot of stuff I didn’t know, didn’t have a complete command of the offense,” Rypien said the day before fall practices began. “I think I have a really good sense of that now.”
While Rypien and Stuart are back, a newcomer has shaken things up a bit, though he won’t be throwing any passes. Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Zak Hill was hired in January after a month at Hawaii. While at Eastern Washington the last seven seasons, the Eagles were in the top seven in passing offense nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision six times.
Hill is highly regarded as a developer of quarterbacks, which has been noticeable in fall camp.
“Fundamentally, my arm’s strength’s come up a lot,” Stuart said. “That’s helped me get a lot of distance on my ball and a lot of firepower on it, too.”
The offense Hill groomed at Eastern Washington threw the ball more than 500 times in five of his seven seasons, getting the ball out quickly and often. He and Boise State wide receivers coach Junior Adams, who worked together on the Eagles’ staff, said “quick game” aspects will be utilized this season.
As a true freshman, Rypien earned first-team All-Mountain West honors after throwing for 3,353 yards (completing 63.6 percent of his passes) with 20 touchdowns to eight interceptions. Among the keys to his improvement, he said, have been a focus on deep ball accuracy and getting a quicker release, in part, to help avoid sacks.
“He’s fairly polished,” Hill said. “Now just put the finishing touches on things — he’s fun to work with.”
Though he isn’t the No. 1 quarterback, Stuart will see the field quite a bit, as coaches have praised his offseason work and the different style he brings to the field. He was 12-of-18 passing for 114 yards and a touchdown last season, adding three touchdowns in the ground, all coming in the final five games.
“If I need to go in there and run the ball 10 times, or go in there and throw the ball 10 times, whatever will help us get the W,” Stuart said.
Last fall, the team could afford to withstand a serious injury like the broken ankle Finley suffered Sept. 18 against Idaho State. The Broncos may not have that luxury this season. Coach Bryan Harsin said the team has yet to finalize its third quarterback. The Broncos would prefer to redshirt true freshman Jake Constantine unless he’s needed for major time.
OUR POSITION PREVIEW SERIES
▪ Saturday: Running backs
▪ Sunday: Tight ends
▪ Monday: Wide receivers
▪ Tuesday: Offensive line
▪ Wednesday: Defensive line
▪ Thursday: Linebackers
▪ Friday, Aug. 26: Defensive backs
▪ Saturday, Aug. 27: Special teams
QB depth chart (projected)
▪ Brett Rypien, 6-2, 200, Soph.: Fantastic freshman year, should be better this season.
▪ Tommy Stuart, 5-11, 203, RJr.: Adds dual-threat dimension that will be utilized.
▪ Jake Constantine, 6-1, 194, Fr.: Lots of upside, but raw; redshirt is ideal option.
▪ Anthony Upshaw, 5-11, 187, RSoph.: Walk-on has never played, but could in an emergency.