Boise State senior backup quarterback Montell Cozart was called into offensive coordinator Zak Hill’s office after practice Tuesday. That’s when he learned he would start in place of the injured Brett Rypien in Thursday’s game against New Mexico.
Hill asked Cozart, a former starter at Kansas, whether he was ready.
“C’mon coach,” Cozart told him. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Cozart, who played about half of the season opener when Rypien was ineffective and three quarters of the second game because Rypien was injured, led the Broncos with 71 rushing yards in the 28-14 defeat of New Mexico. He added 15-for-19 passing for 137 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. His 208 total yards accounted for all but 56 of Boise State’s total.
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Cozart’s ill-advised shovel pass in the fourth quarter at Washington State helped the Cougars erase a 21-point deficit. Washington State won in three overtimes.
“I personally came into this game wanting to take care of the ball,” Cozart said.
Coach Bryan Harsin was mum on Rypien’s status but indicated he would be back in the lineup when healthy. Rypien was knocked out of the Washington State game after his head hit the turf on a sack. He helped Cozart prepare during the week, Harsin said.
Cozart is the third backup quarterback in five seasons to start because of an injury, joining Grant Hedrick (2013 for Joe Southwick) and Rypien (2015 for Ryan Finley). The Broncos had gone 11 years without starting a backup because of injury before that.
Junior tight end Chase Blakley also didn’t suit up for the Broncos. The Coeur d’Alene High graduate started the first two games of the season and had one catch for 13 yards against Troy. Blakley left the game against Washington State with what appeared to be a lower-leg injury. Meanwhile, senior right tackle Archie Lewis made his first start of the year after missing the first two games with an injury. He started all 13 games at left tackle last season. Sophomore John Molchon also saw some time at right tackle Thursday.
Camp schedule pays off
The Broncos structured their fall camp to simulate the unique first few weeks of the season, which included the turnaround from a late Saturday road game at Washington State to Thursday’s game against New Mexico. On Aug. 10, a Thursday, Harsin said the team had gone live a bit the previous Saturday.
“How do we handle going into a short week, we practiced that,” Harsin said.
It worked for Boise State against New Mexico, going from a team that was No. 3 in passing yards last season to a team that was No. 1 in rushing. Sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce said “really, this all goes back to the start of fall camp ... the coaches instilled in us a mindset.”
“We have a young defense, but I think it shows how athletic and more so how intelligent we are, how fast we can transition and get ready for the next team we play every week,” junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said.
Boise State wore orange helmets, jerseys and pants. New Mexico wore all white. … Boise State’s single-game captain was junior defensive tackle David Moa, alongside season-long captains Rypien, Leighton Vander Esch and Cedrick Wilson. … Junior safety Skyler Seibold carried the Hammer. ... New Mexico kicker Jason Sanders missed a 53-yard field goal as the first half expired. He had hit 11 straight field goals entering the game. ... Junior receiver Sean Modster had his first three receptions of the season, but they went for only 12 yards.