Bronco Beat

Harsin mum on Martarano as Broncos brace for Cougars’ challenge

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, pre-Washington State part I

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin looks back at the Broncos' season-opening win at Louisiana and ahead to the home opener against Washington State (part 1 of 3)
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Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin looks back at the Broncos' season-opening win at Louisiana and ahead to the home opener against Washington State (part 1 of 3)

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin, co-offensive coordinator Zak Hill and defensive coordinator Andy Avalos met with the media Tuesday (check out the videos above).

Harsin said Saturday’s home opener against Washington State “big game, big test.”

Harsin did not comment specifically on any injuries, particularly junior linebacker Joe Martarano, who left Saturday’s game in the first quarter and did not return, sporting a knee brace on his right leg in the second half. The third-year Boise State coach has repeatedly said he will only comment on injuries if they are long-term or season-ending.

Senior Darren Lee stepped in for Martarano, and would be the likely starter if he is out against the Cougars. The Broncos also used senior Ben Weaver inside Saturday, flanked by sophomore Leighton Vander Esch and senior Tanner Vallejo.

“Joe will be fine, I’ve got full confidence in him,” defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “D-Lee jumping in there, taking the bulk of the reps, getting some other guys mixed in there, obviously stepping up ... whatever string you might be, let’s get ready to play like we’re the first-string every week.”

▪  The team’s players of the game were: receiver Cedrick Wilson (offense), Vallejo (defense), guard Travis Averill (offensive line), defensive end Sam McCaskill (defensive line), and receiver Brock Barr earned a new honor, the Hard Hat, for special teams play. That award differs from The Hammer, which is often given to the biggest hit, frequently coming on special teams, though not always. Harsin said he will likely give out that honor later this week.

Scout team players of the week were: Barr (offense), defensive end Kayode Rufai (defense), defensive back Jalen Walker (special teams), and defensive back Avery Williams got the Blue Blood honor, which recognizes the scout team’s top workout warrior.

▪  Harsin called Cougars quarterback Luke Falk “one of the better quarterbacks in the country” and receiver Gabe Marks “a stud.”

▪  Boise State has used a drill designed to have receivers aware of incoming defenders where a large red ball is rolled toward them as soon as they make a catch and turn upfield. At Louisiana, the Broncos had a big day racking up yards after the catch. Harsin joked that he showed the skill players the movie “Dodgeball,” referencing a scene where Patches O’Houlihan teaches the team “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”

“Compliance said we couldn’t throw wrenches at them,” Harsin said.

▪  Hill spoke about freshman running back Alexander Mattison, who had team-highs with 11 carries and 61 yards Saturday at Louisiana: “He’s going to be a great ballplayer. He’s fun to watch, he’s picking things up, too. For a young being able to come in there and do what he did, he ran hard. He’s excited to be out there, having an opportunity being a young guy. We’ll expect more and more out of him as the weeks go along ... he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

▪  Avalos laughed when he thought of playing against Washington State as a freshman linebacker in Boise in 2001, a 41-20 loss: “they scored a lot of points ... we really don’t like to talk about that one very much.”

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Boise State is hoping to get back on the winning track at home after losing its last two home games last season. Cougars coach Mike Leach, naturally, had some things to say about playing on The Blue. Check out my story here.

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Boise State is just outside the top 25 in both major polls released Tuesday. The Broncos are three spots out of being ranked in the Associated Press poll, and four spots out in the Amway Coaches’ Poll. It was little movement from the preseason polls, where they were five spots out in the AP poll and tied for third among teams receiving votes in the coaches’ poll.

Check out the full AP poll here and the coaches’ poll here.

Here is my ballot:

1. Alabama

2. Florida State

3. Clemson

4. Ohio State

5. Michigan

6. Houston

7. Stanford

8. Wisconsin

9. TCU

10. Texas

11. Oklahoma

12. Georgia

13. Michigan State

14. Iowa

15. Washington

16. Notre Dame

17. Louisville

18. Tennessee

19. Miami (Fla.)

20. LSU

21. Texas A&M

22. Ole Miss

23. Oklahoma State

24. Baylor

25. San Diego State

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