Boise State football players and coaches met with the media Monday. The Broncos are coming off a 35-13 loss to Ole Miss on Thursday and going into their home and Mountain West opener Saturday against Colorado State at Albertsons Stadium (8:15 p.m., ESPN2).
Here are some notes and quotes from the media availability that included coach Bryan Harsin, both coordinators and two players:
—Harsin did not provide an injury update on defensive tackle Tyler Horn and cornerback Donte Deayon. He said he doesn’t have final diagnoses.
— Harsin does not know yet if tight end Connor Peters (academics) will be able to play this week. He missed last week’s game on about three days’ notice. Harsin expects to have a clearer answer on Peters’ situation this week.
— Defensive end recruit Jabril Frazier is in school at Boise State but is not eligible to practice with the team because of academics. If he does well in school this fall, he’ll be able to join the team for spring ball and play four seasons. He’s still on scholarship. “If he comes in and does well academically, then he’s good,” Harsin said. “ He’s a hell of a kid. He’s done a good job since he’s been here.” Frazier must do all football-related activities on his own but he still can receive academic support from the football program.
— A total of four walk-ons have been placed on scholarship: center Mason Hampton, long snapper Kevin Keane, tailback Charles Bertoli and tight end Jake Hardee. Hampton is the backup center. He is a redshirt freshman from Meridian High. “He’s a guy that he hasn’t been on the field but he’s out there taking all the backup reps at center and he’s doing everything we ask him to do,” Harsin said.
Coach Bryan Harsin
— Expect the team to wear all blue this week. The Bronco Walk is 2 ½ hours before the game, so about 5:45 p.m. Harsin will pull eight to 10 fans out of the crowd and invite them to tour the Bleymaier Football Center and watch the team’s hype video.
— The Broncos practiced Friday and Sunday night. They took Saturday and Monday off.
— On tailback Jay Ajayi’s workload: “Jay felt good. He looked good. He wasn’t winded. And he’s the guy we want to try to get the ball to, and that showed up. He made most of the big plays for us throughout the night and he was feeling it and it’s hard to take a guy out who’s feeling it.”
— On QB Grant Hedrick: “Grant’s a tough guy, no doubt about it. He proved that. Those are the first hits he’s taken (since December) and he’s bouncing back up.”
— On expanding the offensive options: “It’ll happen naturally. You want to have the guys that need to touch the ball touch the ball. Matt (Miller), Jay, Shane (Williams-Rhodes) — those are the guys who had the most experience making plays. Will it be like that through the entire year? No. You’ll manufacture some things for other players because eventually it’s not real hard to see as a defense what you’re going to do.”
— On red-zone failures: “Being inside the 5-yard line twice and not getting in, that’s as big as it gets in a game. We thought we could run the ball. That particular drive (when Ajayi was stopped three times), we ran power three times and got 17 yards. We thought we could do that when we got down there and it didn’t work. (Safety Cody Prewitt) from Ole Miss did something he had never done on film. He came off the backside and disrupted a play. Otherwise, we probably would have scored. He decided on his own to come off the edge. We were able to move the ball when we had a lot of space. Against a defense with a good D-line, that’s got speed, they’re going to be to the ball a lot quicker (in the red zone) so you have to be even more precise with what you’re doing.”
— The tight ends played well and get reinforcements this week with the addition of junior Holden Huff, who was suspended. “That position to me is growing in confidence with, ‘Hey, we can contribute four or five catches by one player and maybe eight total.’ That’s pretty productive.”
— On explosive plays: “If you’re doing your base stuff and doing it well and executing, you’re going to open some stuff up. Explosive plays in the past have come from just running our stuff and then opportunities have come from that.”
— Harsin said linebacker Tyler Gray’s interception was a repeat of a play from practice. “We were kind of laughing about it when he picked it,” Harsin said.
— On linebacker Tanner Vallejo: “He was (playing) as fast as anybody on the field.”
— Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Eli McCullough played a bit of tight end in the opener. He might get some snaps on the offensive line this week. “He’s right in the mix on the O-line,” Harsin said. “For a long time, guys that deserve to play, we’ll find a way to get them in the game. He’s worked really, really hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s playing somewhere on the O-line this week.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford
— On the offense: “We got into a rhythm. We got into a flow. We did some good things moving the football down the field against a very good defense. But not finishing. As an offense and as an offensive coordinator, we’re here to score points — and a lot of them — and we didn’t. But we controlled the football pretty well against a defensive team that is physically imposing. Controlling the time of possession speaks volumes about the type of physical play we’re capable of bringing. But if you combine that time of possession with four turnovers, that’s not a good recipe.” Boise State held the ball for 36 minutes, 14 seconds. The Broncos ran 85 plays to 70 for Ole Miss and gained a first down on every possession except one that ended in a quick interception.
— Sanford defines explosive plays as 12 yards rushing or 16 yards passing. The Broncos had nine in the game. “But those have got to end in touchdowns,” Sanford said.
— One of the four interceptions thrown by Hedrick was a tipped ball. The one in the end zone was a bad decision — Hedrick should have thrown the ball away. The one down the right sideline was a technique issue with Hedrick and wide receiver Dallas Burroughs. The ball was not to the sideline, where it would have been safer. And the one on the pass thrown to Matt Miller was a combination of a terrific defensive play and a ball thrown to the wrong spot.
— On the rotation: “We need to get more guys involved. We tried to at times. We need to get our backfield going. Chaz (Anderson), he flat out ran by one of their corners. We were just a little short on that throw.”
— On Ajayi playing 82 of 85 snaps: “Eighty-two is way too many plays for any tailback. We’ll do a better job of taking care of those guys. We feel good about those other backs.”
— Two of Ajayi’s snaps on the sideline were late in the fourth quarter. Both plays resulted in sacks. Ajayi came back in. However, Sanford said the breakdowns were not tailback Jack Fields’ fault. “He had a really violent block,” Sanford said.
— On Hedrick: “He’s not going to back down from any challenge.”
Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates
¬— On the performance in the opener: “Three quarters of decent football and one quarter of unacceptable football.”
— On what went wrong in the fourth quarter: “Tackling, No. 1. Technique. Doing their job. There were certain calls I could have made that could have helped out as well.”
— Defensive tackle Antoine Turner, a junior college transfer playing his first game, was one of the players who stood out to him.
— “I don’t know if mentally we thought we could play that well for four quarters. Now they believe that we can play four quarters and it’s up to me to get them to do that. I can’t wait to get them out there and see them play (this week). I do still think there’s another level we can go as a team.”
— “In the SEC, those games are four quarters and they’re dogfights. Ole Miss understood that because their defense fought for four quarters. It was a defensive game and their defense won the fourth quarter for them.”
LB Tanner Vallejo
— “The first three quarters were great. You could see our intensity, flying to the ball. The fourth quarter got away from us a little bit. It was just missed assignments.”
— “The effort was the same. It was just people missing by an inch, trying to do a little too much, trying to make a big play.”
— On the bad quarter: “It washed away the first three quarters because now everybody sees a blowout and that’s what matters.”
— “Our offense actually had our back in the fourth quarter. They brought a touchdown so we lost the game for us. If we could have held them without a score, we would have won that game.”
— On starting MW play: “This is really the start of our journey. This really is where it starts and where it really matters. If you look up above you (on the wall) — our goal is to win the conference championship. It starts on Saturday.”
— He said he doesn’t care who the team plays. “I just don’t like bye weeks. I like to play.”
— “We learned what we’re capable of but we also learned what we need to do better. We’re very well coached. We were disciplined for three quarters. We just need to be disciplined for four.”
C Marcus Henry
— On the red zone: “We just needed to finish. One more degree of effort could have gotten it done.”
— On his first game at center: “I was prepared for it. I was excited to be calling everything out. I competed well.”
Boise State released its depth chart for Saturday's Mountain West opener against Colorado State, but it wasn't updated much.
The only change was the addition of tight end Holden Huff, who was suspended for the season opener. Defensive tackle Tyler Horn, who was in a knee brace at the end of the Ole Miss game, still is listed as a starter. Tight end Connor Peters, who didn't make the trip because of an academic issue, is listed, too.
The ESPN2 broadcast crew is Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Jessica Mendoza.
Here is the depth chart.
Here are the game notes.
The Mountain West went 1-6 against FBS competition in the first week. The only win was Colorado State's against Colorado. That was reflected in the Mountain West players of the week: Colorado State running back Dee Hart (139 yards, two touchdowns), Wyoming linebacker Mark Nzeocha (12 tackles, one sack, three pass breakups) and Colorado State kicker Jared Roberts (52-yard field goal).
Here are the 56 Boise State football walk-ons who have been awarded scholarships since 1998, when Dirk Koetter took over the program. Coaches Dan Hawkins (2001-05), Chris Petersen (2006-13) and Bryan Harsin (2014) have continued the tradition.
1998 (5): OT Willy Van Gorder, WR Matt Sevieri, TE Jeb Putzier, TE Nate Colbert, DT Tony Altieri
1999 (6): FB Shay Swan, DE Jeff Copp, DE Sky Dumont, RB Brock Forsey, PK Nick Calaycay, WR Jerry Smith
2000 (1): TE Shaelan McDonough
2001 (4): LS Tom Anderson, OG Jeff Cheek, LB Kris Foster, WR Tim Gilligan
2002 (3): FB Greg Swenson, WR T.J. Acree, PK Tyler Jones
2003 (5): RB Jeff Carpenter, DT Andrew Browning, TE Trent Lundin, OL Klayton Adams, P Kyle Stringer
2004 (1): LB Colt Brooks
2005 (5): LB Ben Chuckovich, ST Ia Falo, WR Cole Clasen, WR Vinny Perretta, S Robby Jones
2006 (1): RB Brett Denton
2007 (5): FB Michael Lose, WR Tanyon Bissell, LB Tim Brady, PK Kyle Brotzman, DE Ryan Winterswyk
2008 (3): OT Matt Slater, WR Michael Choate, WR Tyler Shoemaker
2009 (4): FB Andy Silsby, S Travis Stanaway, OT Michael Ames, LB J.C. Percy
2010 (2): LS Chris Roberson, TE Sean King
2011 (1): OL Matt Paradis
2012 (4): RB Drew Wright, CB Josh Borgman, S Hazen Moss, DE Beau Martin
2013 (2): K Dan Goodale, LB Travis Saxton
2014 (4): TE Jake Hardee, LS Kevin Keane, RB Charles Bertoli, OL Mason Hampton
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