Boise State Football

Mattison’s debut leads flock of Boise State freshmen

Boise State running back Alexander Mattison changes direction on the Louisiana defense during the second half of the Broncos' season opening 45-10 win in Lafayette Saturday Sept. 3, 2016.
Boise State running back Alexander Mattison changes direction on the Louisiana defense during the second half of the Broncos' season opening 45-10 win in Lafayette Saturday Sept. 3, 2016.

Alexander Mattison was going to play Saturday; Boise State coach Bryan Harsin knew that. But perhaps what he didn’t expect was to see the true freshman running back do as much as he did.

Mattison, who made his debut for the Broncos in the third quarter at Louisiana, was put to work right away, carrying six straight times on a drive that set up a Tyler Rausa field goal and a 38-3 lead. Mattison finished with team highs of 11 carries and 61 yards.

“From what I saw, I was impressed,” Harsin said. “Probably more so because it wasn’t too big for him. He went in there and didn’t hesitate.”

In each of his past two seasons at San Bernardino (Calif.) High, Mattison ran for more than 2,000 yards. He quickly showed Saturday he can be a trusted back at the next level and found the end zone on his final carry, a 2-yard run that capped the scoring with 8:44 to play.

“When he first got here, we saw a guy that really wanted to play this year, wanted to contribute, was hungry to get on the field this year,” junior running back Jeremy McNichols said. “He came out here and showed it today, led us in rushing. His confidence, I’m pretty sure, is out the roof right now.”

Led by Mattison, the 45-10 win was a true freshman bonanza. Including him, eight played, which already is the most in any of the previous 10 seasons: defensive tackles Sonatane Lui, Chase Hatada and Emmanuel Fesili; defensive backs Kekoa Nawahine, Reid Harrison-Ducros and DeAndre Pierce; and linebacker Tyson Maeva.

“They came in, and they just wanted to work; they wanted to be great,” senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo said. “They’re not great by any means yet, but they’re on their way.”


Junior tight end Jake Roh made the trip to Lafayette but did not suit up. He has sported a large brace on his left leg recently at practice. The Broncos also were without senior safety Chanceller James, who did not travel because of a violation of team rules. Harsin said Roh is “week-to-week,” and he expects James to return next week against Washington State.

In Roh’s absence, junior tight end Alec Dhaenens had five catches for 40 yards. He came into the game with four career receptions for 26 yards.

“He definitely has (improved),” Boise State sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien said. “Alec’s a guy that has really good hands, really smart route runner.”

Redshirt freshman Evan Tyler started in James’ place at the Broncos’ boundary safety spot. Tyler had four tackles, 1.5 for loss in his debut.

“Evan, probably in the last week of practice, he just showed up. ... He had some big hits, some really good tackles. He was talking; he was leading,” Harsin said.


Junior linebacker Joe Martarano left the game in the first quarter with a right knee injury and did not return, spending the second half out of uniform with a brace on. Senior Darren Lee replaced him and had four tackles and a pass breakup.

“There’s concern about him, I don’t know how long. He certainly couldn’t come back into the game,” Harsin said. “Usually that could mean he might not play in the next game. We’ll found out; long plane right doesn’t always help the swelling. ... If we can get him back into Wednesday’s practice, we’ll be able to go from there. If not, we’ll be ready to adjust.”

Junior STUD Gabe Perez “kind of tweaked his shoulder a little bit,” Harsin said, and the team will be cautious as it’s the same right shoulder that he had surgery on last year and forced him to redshirt. Senior defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte left the game in the third quarter, but Harsin said it was just a leg cramp.


The temperature at the 11 a.m. CT kickoff was 85 degrees, the humidity 65 percent. ... Former WAC and current Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson was at the game. The Boise State graduate was sporting a Louisiana hat. ... Boise State won the coin toss and elected to receive. ... The Broncos wore white jerseys, white pants and white helmets, the Ragin’ Cajuns red jerseys, white pants and white helmets. ... Twenty-one players made their debuts with Boise State, from true freshmen to redshirts to transfers. ... Boise State allowed only one sack. ... Lee carried The Hammer. ... McNichols scored a rushing touchdown for a 13th straight game, extending his Mountain West record. ... Attendance was 22,661.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_BroncoBeat

Related stories from Idaho Statesman