Bronco Beat

Boise State players focused on winning, not fun, as Fiesta Bowl prep begins

Boise State made four football players available to the media the past two days and that group left little doubt about the team’s mission for the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 in Glendale, Ariz.

Sophomore linebacker Ben Weaver was asked what he looks forward to most with this trip.

“Winning the game,” he said.

Redshirt freshman tight end Jake Roh was asked about spending bowl week in his hometown of Scottsdale (that’s where the team hotel is), where he can see his family and friends. Are teammates asking for travel advice?

“Here and there. People obviously ask a little bit,” he said. “We’re there to win a game. We’re just focused on that.”

Bowl practices begin Saturday.

There’s definitely a different feel than this time last year, when the Broncos were in the middle of a coaching transition and playing for interim coach Bob Gregory, who was on his way to Washington with most of the other assistants.

Plus, the Broncos were headed for Hawaii.

It was an obvious recipe for a loss — and the Broncos fell 38-23 to Oregon State in a game that wasn’t that close.

“Everyone was not down, but unfocused maybe a little bit,” Roh said. “Now we’re just really focused and excited for the opportunity to prove what we can do.”

Below are some highlights from Weaver and Roh. Here is a post from yesterday with comments from center Marcus Henry and safety Darian Thompson.

Ben Weaver

— On making 16 of his 54 tackles for the season in the Mountain West championship game: “I just got in a rhythm. This year has been a little different than last year. We’ve had quite a bit of depth at the linebacker position. I haven’t been playing the whole games this year as I tended to do last year. This past game, I was able to stay in for most of the game. It kind of felt like last year again.”

— His mom and sister went to Oklahoma. He remembers watching the 2007 Fiesta Bowl with them. “There was that little edge Boise State always seemed to have and I liked that. The winning tradition. They’d go into a big game and find some way to pull it out whether it was a trick play or pure resilience.” He enjoyed the 2007 game, he said. His mom and sister weren’t as happy. “I was young, but I definitely remember some tears coming down,” he said.

— Weaver is expecting 14 friends and family members at the game. Roh is expecting 25. Both said they deferred to seniors when it came to getting tickets from friends in the locker room.

Jake Roh

— Roh won two high school state championships at University of Phoenix Stadium.

— On whether family and friends could be a distraction: “They know the deal of what’s going on and what’s at stake, the opportunity we have in front of us, so I’m not too worried about that.”

— Arizona gave him his first scholarship offer, but he preferred to go out of state. Arizona was one of several schools that wanted him to play linebacker. Arizona has four players from his high school, Chaparral. “It will be cool, a little reunion,” Roh said. “It will be nice to play against those guys again.”

Boise State junior tailback Jay Ajayi was named to the third team on the Athlon Sports All-America team Friday. Junior safety Darian Thompson made the fourth team.

It’s the second honor this season for both. Ajayi was second team on USA Today’s list and Thompson was second team on the CBS Sports list.

Full Athlon list here.

Arizona senior center Steven Gurrola will be suspended for the first half of the Fiesta Bowl by NCAA rule. He was ejected for throwing a punch in the second half of the Pac-12 championship game. Gurrola was an All-Pac-12 second-team pick.

LINKS

‘Brotherhood links Harsin, Yates

Jay Ajayi named award finalist

Fiesta Bowl trips have become family traditions

Arizona 101

Bowl notebook

Broncos need a Fiesta win to be ‘back’

Murphy: Past success helped send Broncos to Fiesta

Fiesta Bowl ticket info

Notebook: Can Boise State help the Big 12?

Boise State needs to sell $1.94 million worth of tickets

Boise State to play Arizona

Broncos move up in polls

Email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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