A bunch of news and notes out of the Boise State football press conference today. A few highlights:
— Tight end Connor Peters’ academic-related suspension will run four games, coach Bryan Harsin said. He can play beginning with the Air Force game on Sept. 27.
— Starting cornerback Cleshawn Page will not play this week. He was injured in last week’s game. His status beyond that is unknown.
— Starting left tackle Rees Odhiambo is questionable. He left last week’s game with an injury. Harsin does not expect him to practice Tuesday but is hopeful he’ll be ready by Saturday. Redshirt freshman Eli McCullough was solid in his place, Harsin said, but Odhiambo was consistently winning his 1-on-1 battles. “Rees was on a roll in that game,” Harsin said.
— Cornerbacks Donte Deayon, who did not play last week, and Bryan Douglas, who left last week’s game with concussion symptoms, are expected to play this week. Deayon practiced Thursday and Friday last week and went through warm-ups, then took off his pads. He put them back on during the game when the injuries mounted but Harsin had no intention of using him. “He went straight Superman on us — from street clothes to pads in 5 seconds,” Harsin said. “I turn around and he’s high-kneeing it. In his mind, he’s ready to go play. We didn’t need to do that.”
— Quarterback Grant Hedrick has not shown any ill effects from the hit to the head he took in last week's game, Harsin said. Hedrick left the game because trainers came onto the field when he was slow to get up. He was evaluated by trainers on the sideline and cleared to return, Harsin said. “Grant’s good,” Harsin said. “Grant was in today watching some film, studying.”
— Chaz Anderson will practice at cornerback and wide receiver this week. He was a cornerback until fall camp began. He’s a contributor on offense and won’t switch full time. “He’ll get some reps this week and then we’ll see where it goes from there,” Harsin said. “We do need some depth. You need it more in practice. You’ve got to spell guys out there in practice. Chaz will still play offense. It’s not going to be an exclusive move one way or another.”
— Starting safety Darian Thompson played some cornerback late in the Colorado State game. He originally came to Boise State as a corner and will be used there if necessary, Harsin said. “We’ve got plan A through plan D,” Harsin said. “That’s what we have to do until Cleshawn gets back.”
— Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford missed Thursday’s practice to be with his wife. The Sanfords chose induced labor Thursday because it was the best day for the coach to miss. Harsin ran the offense in practice that day. Gunnar Sanford was born Thursday night. “(Harsin) really values family,” Sanford said. “It meant a lot to me. He said, ‘Go be with your wife.’ We chose for her to be induced on date night in college football. I didn’t really have to miss anything game-planning wise. Thursday is a cleanup day, polish day. Coach Harsin took over that day. We were out of the hospital by Friday.”
— The only changes on the depth chart this week are the removals of injured players Page, Tyler Horn and Mercy Maston.
— Boise State plays at Connecticut at 10 a.m. MT Saturday. The game will air regionally on ABC and on ESPN2 elsewhere. The broadcasters are Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Paul Carcaterra.
— Internal players of the week: RB Jay Ajayi, WR Matt Miller, Hedrick (offense), LB Tanner Vallejo (defense), LS Kevin Keane (special teams), C Marcus Henry (offensive line), DE Beau Martin (defensive line).
Below are some comments from coach Bryan Harsin, coordinators Mike Sanford and Marcel Yates, wide receiver Matt Miller and linebacker Ben Weaver (posting as I go, so not all are there yet):
— On 37-24 defeat of Colorado State: “We put some good yards up there. There were some numbers in there that show up but there still were some points left on the field.”
— Harsin emphasized scoring on the first drive and running after the catch/contact. He was happy with what happened there. He’d like to see improvement on the penalty front. “We’re not good enough to go out there and hurt ourselves with penalties,” he said.
— “On the defensive side, you can’t ask more than what we did in the run game. That’s exactly what the emphasis was. We shut down two really good backs and a really good O-line. The pass game, there’s a lot there we’ve got to improve on. We need to be more complete and more consistent on the defensive side.”
— On the blocked PAT: “That can’t happen. We had some penetration there. On extra points, you can go out there and get lazy and you get one blocked. It might be the difference in the game. We’ll address that. That won’t happen again.”
— On fourth-quarter defense: “I’m not happy about it. That’s a whole team, now. You’ve got to be able to sustain some more drives on offense and help the defense out. At the same time, we’ve got to get off the field. The Ole Miss game didn’t help because they came out and got on fire in the fourth quarter. That’s going to be a theme because the first game showed it. Until we go out and do something good — shut them down, sustain drives on offense — that’s part of what we have to deal with right now, till we prove otherwise.”
— “I told the guys at halftime. There’s no such thing as a great half of football. It’s a whole, entire game. We wanted to come out poised but paranoid.”
— The Broncos leave Thursday, like they did for the opener in Atlanta. They will meet at 7 a.m. Thursday, which will help the team prepare for the 10 a.m. MT kickoff. The team will get up at 7:45 a.m. — 5:45 a.m. MT — on game day. Harsin has asked players to get up at 7 a.m. all week to help train their bodies for the early start.
— Ajayi’s touchdown run that went wide right early in the game was supposed to be an interior run. “That’s why he’s the back he is,” Harsin said. “He sees things out there. It makes it kind of a hard guy to gauge when you’re watching him. He can go anywhere on the field. Everybody’s got to be ready and they weren’t on that particular play.”
— The Broncos were flagged for sideline interference against Colorado State because an official bumped into an assistant coach.
— On backup quarterback Ryan Finley: “Finley has practiced well. We have been very excited about him. We think he’s a good quarterback. He needs a chance to play to prove it.”
— On losing defensive tackle Tyler Horn for the season: “Tyler’s a big one. It’s unfortunate we don’t have him because that’s a big one for us. If something (else) happens there, we’ve got to get creative.”
— Sanford and Harsin said the Broncos’ offense will look different from week to week. They didn’t use as many shifts and motions against Colorado State because the Rams defense doesn’t shift. “The theme of that game was to play fast, play smart, play without any reservation,” Sanford said. “For the most part, we did a good job of that.”
— On tailback Jay Ajayi: “When you have a great player, you give him the football. I don’t think that’s a controversy. Jay was in a flow. We’re talking to him on the sidelines on the headsets — he sees the game really well. He wasn’t winded. He wasn’t beat up. Yesterday, it wasn’t even 12 hours afterward — he was fresh and ready to go. If he’s fresh and rolling, we’re going to play him. We only get 10 more games guaranteed. This isn’t the NFL season. We get 10 guaranteed games. Let’s get the most out of our guys for 10 more guaranteed games.”
— On Hedrick: “I thought he saw everything really well. He saw the defense well. He saw the coverages well. He made good decisions. I thought he was even quicker with his decision-making while seeing it very clearly. He put a lot of work in last week. He made a lot of progress.”
— Coaches emphasized with Hedrick that he needs to scramble vertically, not horizontally. That showed up against Colorado State. “Your money’s going to be up in the pocket,” Sanford said. “If you flush from the pocket horizontally, it really limits what you can do in the passing game and makes rushing opportunities off the passing game less expansive.”
— On why Shane Williams-Rhodes was less of a factor at wide receiver: “They played the perimeter a little more honestly than Ole Miss did. Ole Miss packed it in there a little bit more.”
— On Hedrick’s interception: “Grant threw that ball exactly where we wanted it to be thrown. Matt (Miller), he got shoved down in there a little bit. He threw it to the spot we work all the time. The defensive back made a good play. He did a good job shoving him in the back. The answer is, if it doesn’t look good, just throw a field goal with your arm. It was a bang-bang play. When he threw it, he hadn’t been jostled.” It’s a fine line. If Miller was pushed before the throw, that’s legal in college. If he was pushed when the ball was in the air, it should have been pass interference.
— Sanford gave Hedrick his own quiz on the headsets after the big hit to make sure he was OK. “He was dialed and answering everything perfect,” Sanford said. “After that shot he took, he made some of the best progression reads since he’s been here. He was extremely sharp.”
— Walk-on quarterback Anthony Upshaw, who joined the team when school started, has been filling in at safety on the scout team. He was added because Sanford wanted a fifth quarterback. “He’s just a really good kid, a good athlete,” Sanford said.
— “We just have to fix the fourth quarter. We’ve given up 42 points in the fourth quarter. That needs to be fixed. We’re going to fix it. It’s up to me and coach Harsin to find a way to get that done.”
— On what he sees in the fourth quarter: “I thought this last game it was a lack of focus, kind of like it’s over — which I don’t understand that. To me, when the fourth quarter comes, it should go the other way. It should be more of, ‘We need to go to a new level.’ I didn’t see that.”
— On sophomore safety Chanceller James, true freshman safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner and redshirt freshman cornerback Cameron Hartsfield, who played against Colorado State: “They played OK. I still think, as a group, that group needs to get better. Their eyes, at times, aren’t right. Athletically, I think they’re there. Mentally, I don’t think they are. We’re going to harp on those guys just doing their jobs. You haven’t seen too many guys who were in position get beat. Half the time it’s a guy who’s isn’t in position.”
— On true sophomore cornerback Jonathan Moxey’s second start: “He played well. They took some shots on him. He’s going to see that a lot.”
WR Matt Miller
— On Hedrick’s running: “As a wide receiver, it makes you want to block more because you’ve got to protect that guy because Grant is a vital part of this offense.”
— Miller said the key to success on the road for the Broncos this year will be their “attack” mentality. What, I asked, was the mentality last year? “Obviously not attack,” he said.
LB Ben Weaver
— On fourth-quarter woes: “We just need to stay in it for four quarters.”
— “I think we’ve been the most conditioned team these past two weeks. I don’t think it’s been a conditioning issue. I’m not sure what it is, to be honest.”
— “Last year we tended to give up points early in games. Really our whole mentality as a defense is to start fast and not give up really any points.”
Connecticut’s starting quarterback, Casey Cochran, has retired because of multiple concussions, the school announced Monday.
“A silver lining in this matter is that Casey has an interest in pursuing a career in coaching,” said UConn head coach Bob Diaco. “We can now accelerate his development in that area as he transitions from a player role to a mentor role as he continues to serve the team.”
The Huskies were 3-1 in their last four games last year with Cochran at quarterback. He was 17-for-31 for 171 yards and one interception in the season-opening loss to BYU.
Chandler Whitmer was 8-for-17 for 113 yards with three sacks against BYU. He was 12-for-27 for 142 yards and a touchdown with three sacks in the 19-16 win against Stony Brook.
Here is my earlier post on Jay Ajayi being named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week.
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