Bronco Beat

Boise State’s Zak Hill: offensive coordinator position, playcalling role ‘a great honor’

It is a position of glamour at times, like when Bryan Harsin was the offensive wunderkind as Boise State’s coordinator a decade ago. Or it can be one of disdain: Robert Prince nods solemnly in agreement.

Playcalling is a mixed bag, one that can make a person look like a genius, or if one little thing goes wrong, a disappointment. That is the role Zak Hill steps into this season as the Broncos’ sole offensive coordinator, and takes over full playcalling duties from Harsin, who handled the responsibility in most situations last season.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, I’m glad coach Harsin feels good with me doing that,” Hill said.

Harsin in part took over the duties when Eli Drinkwitz departed because in bringing in Hill from Hawaii as co-offensive coordinator, he was still picking up the offense. Hill joked on multiple occasions last spring he was learning just like the incoming players.

But Harsin felt comfortable enough to hand off most third-down playcalls to Hill in the fall, and it worked well, with Boise State finishing No. 13 in the nation in third-down conversions (47.6 percent).

“Right now we’re working on the DNA type stuff, part of what we do, Boise State football, that blue-collar mentality,” Hill said. “We’re going to run the football, we’re going to have some play-action stuff off it, we’ll be in open sets, we’ll be in heavy sets. We’ve got a lot of returning tight ends, which will be a big help for us, bigger bodies that can help us in the run game, but spread out and be big targets for Brett (Rypien).”

Hill, who called the new opportunity a “great honor,” is the Broncos’ third offensive coordinator in four seasons, with the previous sole OCs going to Notre Dame and North Carolina State. If one includes co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Scott Huff, who left for Washington last week, the team has had four.

Before his six-week stint at Hawaii, Hill spent seven seasons at Eastern Washington, where the Eagles finished No. 1, 2 and 4 his last three years in passing offense. He isn’t a genetic scientist, but he’s slowly been able to splice some of that prolific offense’s DNA into the Boise State makeup.

“A little here and there with some of the Eastern Washington stuff,” Hill said. “... We can add some wrinkles, things we’re talking about in the offseason, to be able to mix some things up, whether it’s screen game, whether it’s pass game, even some run stuff, we’ll get into some of the auxiliary stuff in the second half of spring.”

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Sophomore defensive lineman Chase Hatada worked at nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end last season as a true freshman. He said he is working solely at defensive end this spring. Senior running back Ryan Wolpin said redshirt freshman Avery Williams has joined the group after spending last year at cornerback. Those moves, coupled with linebacker Joe Martarano’s departure are in the updated roster below.

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2017 SPRING POSITION-BY-POSITION ROSTER

QUARTERBACK

7 Rathen Ricedorff, 6-0, 186, R-Jr.

4 Brett Rypien, 6-2, 201, Jr.

15 Jake Constantine, 6-1, 187, R-Fr.

TAILBACK

30 Ryan Wolpin, 5-8, 195, R-Sr.

39 Jake Shaddox, 5-11, 211, R-So.

22 Alexander Mattison, 5-11, 216, So.

34 Robert Mahone, 5-10, 203, R-Fr.

26 Avery Williams, 5-9, 197, R-Fr.

WIDE RECEIVER

89 Brock Barr, 6-3, 205, R-Sr.

83 David McKinzie, 6-0, 170, R-Sr.

17 Austin Cottrell, 6-2, 203, Sr.

1 Cedrick Wilson, 6-3, 188, Sr.

28 A.J. Richardson, 6-0, 205, R-Jr.

8 Sean Modster, 5-11, 190, R-Jr.

81 Akilian Butler, 5-10, 187, Jr.

9 Bryan Jefferson, 5-11, 189, R-So.

18 Bubba Ogbebor, 6-0, 193, So.

2 Julian Carter, 6-2, 202, R-Fr.

80 Christian Blaser, 6-1, 176, R-Fr.

TIGHT END

87 Alec Dhaenens, 6-3, 245, R-Sr.

88 Jake Roh, 6-3, 227, R-Sr.

93 Jake Knight, 6-4, 232, R-Jr.

86 Chase Blakley, 6-4, 246, R-Jr.

47 Matt Pistone, 6-3, 249, R-So.

85 John Bates, 6-6, 245, R-Fr.

84 Nick Crabtree, 6-7, 261, R-Fr.

OFFENSIVE LINE

74 Archie Lewis, 6-3, 300, R-Sr.

52 Andrew Tercek, 6-1, 281, R-Sr.

59 Mason Hampton, 6-3, 303, R-Sr.

78 Andres Preciado, 6-6, 293, R-Jr.

65 Zachary Troughton, 6-6, 316, Jr.

67 Garrett Larson, 6-4, 296, R-So.

79 Eric Quevedo, 6-4, 290, R-So.

77 John Molchon, 6-5, 310, R-So.

75 Kole Bailey, 6-4, 272, R-Fr.

76 Ezra Cleveland, 6-6, 304, R-Fr.

69 Austin Dixon, 6-6, 290, R-Fr.

71 Donte Harrington, 6-2, 301, R-Fr.

64 Ben Vering, 6-4, 254, R-Fr.

70 John Ojukwu, 6-6, 285, Fr.

68 Jake Stetz, 6-2, 295, Fr.

DEFENSIVE END

97 Austin Silsby, 6-3, 256, R-Sr.

91 Durrant Miles, 6-5, 255, Jr.

93 Chase Hatada, 6-3, 267, So.

45 Kayode Rufai, 6-4, 263, R-Fr.

40 Jabari Watson, 6-1, 261, R-Fr.

56 Dane Kordopatis, 6-2, 263, R-Fr.

STUD END

33 Gabe Perez, 6-4, 236, R-Sr.

8 Jabril Frazier, 6-4, 237, R-Jr.

53 Sam Whitney, 6-2, 232, R-So.

99 Curtis Weaver, 6-3, 255, R-Fr.

35 Derriyon Shaw, 6-2, 227, R-Fr.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

90 Daniel Auelua, 6-2, 292, Sr.

48 David Moa, 6-3, 262, R-Jr.

92 Paul Semons, 6-3, 271, R-Jr.

54 Matt Locher, 6-2, 268, R-So.

98 Sonatane Lui, 6-1, 298, So.

57 Emmanuel Fesili, 6-2, 309, So.

LINEBACKER

36 Blake Whitlock, 6-1, 221, Sr.

43 Joe Provenzano, 5-11, 216, R-Jr.

38 Leighton Vander Esch, 6-4, 242, R-Jr.

5 Garrett Collingham, 6-4, 225, R-So.

41 Will Heffner, 6-2, 219, R-So.

58 Tyson Maeva, 6-0, 221, So.

9 Desmond Williams, 5-11, 203, R-Fr.

95 Nick Provenzano, 5-11, 212, R-Fr.

48 Bruno DeRose, 5-11, 214, R-Fr.

34 Solo Taylor, 6-2, 216, R-Fr.

25 Benton Wickersham, 6-2, 228, R-Fr.

42 Clayton Bowler, 6-0, 196, Fr.

Returning from mission this summer:

Riley Whimpey, 6-2, 205, Fr.

CORNERBACK

6 Michael Young, 6-0, 209, R-Jr.

14 Tyler Horton, 5-11, 183, Jr.

27 Reid Harrison-Ducros, 5-10, 172, So.

30 Robert Lewis, 5-10, 177, R-Fr.

13 Marques Evans, 5-11, 172, Fr.

SAFETY

37 Cameron Hartsfield, 5-10, 199, R-Sr.

31 Skyler Seibold, 6-1, 209, R-Jr.

15 Evan Tyler, 6-2, 188, R-So.

23 Damion Wright, 6-0, 190, R-So.

4 DeAndre Pierce, 5-11, 168, So.

10 Kekoa Nawahine, 6-2, 200, So.

32 Jordan Happle, 5-11, 191, R-Fr.

17 Jalen Walker, 6-0, 170, R-Fr.

47 Ma'a Tanuvasa, 6-1, 195, R-Fr.

KICKER

46 Joel Velazquez, 6-0, 220, R-Fr.

PUNTER

49 Brandon Heicklen, 6-0, 180, R-So.

LONG SNAPPER

50 Nicholai Pitman, 5-11, 220, So.

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