Nine Boise State football players and coach Bryan Harsin addressed the media Monday morning, the eve before the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix. The Broncos face Baylor at 8:15 p.m. MT Tuesday on ESPN. Here is a rundown on what was said:
▪ Harsin confirmed that sophomore STUD Jabril Frazier will not play in the bowl game because of an injury. Frazier was part of the group that helped at a community service event Sunday, the rest were redshirting freshmen or injured players.
“He was injured after the last game, and we tried to see where he was at, if he could come back,” Harsin said. “He’s not going to play in this game. He’s actually going to have surgery a little bit sooner before everybody gets back. So he’s got a couple of things he’s got to repair. ... I know he wanted to finish the season but just not able to right now.”
▪ Backup quarterback Tommy Stuart will transfer, Harsin said. The redshirt junior will have one year to play elsewhere. Stuart appeared in nine games last season, attempting 18 passes (one touchdown) and rushing 30 times, scoring three touchdowns. He’s only played in three games this season, completing 3-of-5 passes for 50 yards and rushing once for 2 yards. The writing was on the wall when the Broncos signed JC quarterback Rathen Ricedorff two weeks ago.
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Next season, the Broncos’ scholarship quarterbacks currently are set to be junior Brett Rypien, Ricedorff (a junior), redshirt freshman Jake Constantine and incoming freshman Chase Cord.
▪ Senior linebacker Ben Weaver said he plans to train for the NFL in Boise, but has a business idea as his backup plan.
“My idea is to be in the football aspect, not necessarily coaching,” Weaver said. “I’m currently trying to start my own company actually in a type of football equipment. Some innovative things. I've been working with our engineering program and actually our venture college.”
What exactly does he plan on making? Still a secret, he said.
▪ Senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck spoke about playing at Chase Field, home of major-league baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I never played football on a baseball field, no,” Sperbeck said. “But I’m assuming the outfield’s hopefully like the grass that we get to play on. So hopefully it won’t be too much of a curveball.”
▪ Asked about players opting to not to play in bowl games to protect their potential futures, junior running back Jeremy McNichols, who declared for the NFL Draft on Monday, said he never considered missing the bowl game.
“I think there is a lot of talk of the New Year’s Six bowls and the other ones get pushed aside a little bit,” senior defensive end Sam McCaskill said. “So some of the players don’t feel it’s as big of a stage to play on.”
▪ Senior offensive tackle Mario Yakoo didn’t have a banner with his name on it two years ago at the Fiesta Bowl’s media day. He got one Monday, and he’ll be able to keep it.
“I was jealous a couple years ago ... This is good that I’ll have one of these,” Yakoo said.
▪ Rypien was a popular interview. Here is what he said about a wealth of topics:
Q. What makes you guys so different, from what you're seeing (vs. Big 12 offenses)?
BRETT RYPIEN: I think we're just always open to trying different things. And we can change personnel groups at any time. We go from a 10-personnel group to a 13-personnel group. And we'll get in 22 personnel, sometimes, too. And we just do a lot of different things and that's what makes us so unique. And it's definitely a very complicated offense, I think, to play in.
But the guys that we have taking initiative to take that extra preparation to make sure that we all know what we're doing.
Q. You guys have a history in Arizona in both games, a lot of good surprises, a lot of good trends for you guys. Is there anything you are in particular looking forward to?
BRETT RYPIEN: Yeah, it's the next game. I think we talked about that all the time. And the next game is the biggest game of the year. And you know, this is a great opportunity for us to be down here. I think this whole staff this bowl game has done an unbelievable job of taking care of us. And we're really looking forward to going out there and playing our best ball tomorrow.
Q. Give me your thoughts on Jeremy, on his decision?
BRETT RYPIEN: Jeremy is my roommate. So I've been talking to him about it for a while. And kind of got a sense of where he was going with that decision. And I couldn't be happier for him.
You know, that's something that I think he needed to do and he felt like he needed to do. And it's going to be awesome for him moving forward and I'm going to be rooting for him.
Q. I asked Coach about this, about Jeremy, what seems to be his strengths?
BRETT RYPIEN: Well, he's a very diverse player. And he can do a lot of different stuff as a running back and we can split him out as receiver as well. He actually played receiver in high school. So he has that experience with him. And I think the best thing he's done this year is taken his game to the next level. His physicality has been unbelievably consistent this year, and he's brought it every single week and I think a lot of teams will notice that.
He does a great job I think in every aspect of the game that you don't see out of a whole lot of backs coming out of college. He does it in the pass game, he does it in the run game and he does it in pass protection.
So he's a very, very diverse player and a guy that is going to be able to step into I think any offense and make a contribution.
Q. As you look at the film of Baylor ... . What concerns you?
BRETT RYPIEN: You know, you see they're big and fast for sure. Probably bigger and definitely faster than any team we've seen all year. They've got a lot of different guys that can cover in space and it's going to be a challenge for us for sure.
And we've been trying to prepare for their speed as much as we can. But obviously it's going to be a little bit different going out there. And it will be a good challenge for us but at the same time we're looking forward to it and at the end of the day comes down to executing for us.
Q. Bowl game, extra practices, how much does that mean? Is it more for the underclassman than the guys who are trying to finish up?
BRETT RYPIEN: No, I think it's beneficial for everyone. You know, with those extra practices, because you kind of get a week after the final game the season is over to kind of go back and look and see what you can improve on from last year and what you need to be working on going into this bowl game is spring forward yourself into next year, and that time is really big for me because I like to go back and self-evaluate and see what I can get better at.
And I take those into our first week of bowl practices, which are very generic, because we really don't even know who we're playing yet a lot of the times.
So we go and are working fundamentals and getting back to the basics and stuff like that. Then once we know who we're playing, we start getting into more specific game planning type of things and you get a whole extra week to game plan. You get 12 practices, 12, 13 practices to game plan and get ready for the game, and that's a huge advantage.
Q. When people think of Boise State football, what should they think?
BRETT RYPIEN: They should think of a standard of excellence that has been set over the past 10, 15 years that has a very, the fan base and the players and the coaches have a very high expectation for the program and a program that expects to win 11 games per year, and if you don't, it's a disappointing season.
Q. A couple of years ago, 8-5?
BRETT RYPIEN: And 9-4 last year.
Q. What was that like?
BRETT RYPIEN: Well, last year it was difficult. I got thrown into the fire my freshman year after the third game and had some really good moments and had some really bad moments, and you kind of learn to manage all those and take the highs and lows lightly, because you can't really ever get too high and you can't get too low. You've got to kind of stay steady throughout it all.
It was a great learning experience, but it was motivating going into last year knowing that that wasn't the standard for this program.
Q. I talked to Coach Harsin, the way college football is set up today; there's the playoff and everyone seems to focus on the semifinals championship game, and it's hard as well if you're not a Power Five school. Does that bring an automatic chip on your shoulder, Boise State already had that anyway didn't they?
BRETT RYPIEN: No, definitely. Our goal first and foremost is to win the Mountain West Conference and then win a bowl game. So we know we don't control what bowl game we go to but we can control if we win the Mountain West Conference. And we weren't able to do that this year, and that's obviously very frustrating.
So, yeah, we have a chip on our shoulder at all times. We know we would have to probably go undefeated two years in a row to even be in the conversation to make the playoff.
But at the same time, if we win our conference and we take care of business non-conference, we're looking at a New Year's Six bowl. And that's kind of the ultimate goal first is to get one of those and then you start worrying about, okay, other stuff.
Cactus Bowl: Boise State vs. Baylor
▪ Time: 8:15 p.m. Tuesday
▪ Where: Chase Field, (40,400, grass, home of baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks), Phoenix
▪ TV: ESPN (Rece Davis, Joey Galloway, David Pollack, Molly McGrath)
▪ Radio: KTIK 93.1 FM, KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
▪ Vegas line: Boise State by 7 (over/under is 67 1/2)
▪ Coaches: Boise State, Bryan Harsin (31-8, third year; 38-13, fourth year overall); Baylor, Jim Grobe (6-6, first year; 116-121-1, 20th year overall)
▪ 2016 records: Boise State 10-2, Baylor 6-6
▪ Key stats: Boise State’s two losses this season were by a combined nine points; Baylor has lost six straight games by a combined 262-157 points.
▪ Bowl records: Boise State 11-5 (won six of past seven), Baylor 11-11 (lost four of past seven)
▪ Series: First meeting
▪ What to wear: The Broncos will wear the same uniform combo they have in their previous three Phoenix bowl games, all three wins: blue helmets, white jerseys and orange pants. Fans coming to the game are asked to wear orange.
▪ Kickoff weather: Chase Field has a retractable roof, which is expected to be open for pre-game activities and closed for the game. Tuesday’s evening forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 50s and a low in the mid-40s.