Bronco Beat

Boise State football team creates a 'Weapon'; Sanford on staff: 'We're just getting started'

Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols fights off Wyoming safety Tim Kamana during the Broncos’ win Saturday in Laramie, Wyo.
Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols fights off Wyoming safety Tim Kamana during the Broncos’ win Saturday in Laramie, Wyo. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

The Boise State football coaches have put a name to the position occupied by true freshman tailback/wide receiver Jeremy McNichols.

The Weapon.

It’s a potential model for young playmakers of the future but not a permanent home. McNichols is expected to compete full time at tailback in the spring, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said.

McNichols does position drills and spends meeting time with the tailbacks and wide receivers right now. He was nicknamed the “McWeapon” in Boise State’s weekly game notes.

“We cater his role week to week and really have a menu for him where we almost have his own mini-playbook,” Sanford said. “It changes week to week. He averages 10.3 yards per touch. That’s a dynamic player. That’s a guy we’ve got to do a better job — I’ve got to do a better job — getting him the ball. It’s just hard to take some of those touches away from No. 27 (tailback Jay Ajayi).”

The Broncos are 8-0 since inserting McNichols into the lineup Oct. 4 at Nevada. He has 15 rushes for 155 yards and one touchdown (10.3 yards per carry) and a matching 15 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown (10.3 yards per catch).

He also is the primary kickoff returner, averaging 20.9 yards per return.

McNichols is the only “Weapon” on the team but he could be a trendsetter.

“The thing that’s fun about it, you have a chance in recruiting to talk about a potential role as a true freshman that’s really catered to their skill set and then you can see where that may lead their career,” Sanford said. “And I think Jeremy has shown he can potentially be a really, really good tailback here. But then you’ve already cross-trained him a little bit as a receiver and now you can utilize that skill set out on the perimeter.”

McNichols’ emergence was a direct response to the loss of senior wide receiver Matt Miller. The Broncos should have better depth at wide receiver next year and might have to replace Ajayi, an All-American who could leave early for the NFL.

“(McNichols) has earned the right to be a guy going into spring that’s right there in the thick of the position battle there to be getting a lot of touches,” Sanford said.

Other notes from Sanford:

— On Arizona’s defense: “Really good defense. The first game against Oregon, what they did slowing down probably the most lethal and most talented attack in all of college football, and even in that second game, it was tough sledding there for a while and then the Heisman Trophy winner (quarterback Marcus Mariota) won the Heisman Trophy that night it’s our greatest challenge of the season, there’s no doubt about that.”

— On Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright: “It seems like he’s always in the right place at the right time in those critical moments. He’s had a lot of signature moments on the season. I would attribute that to his nature of being a student of the game. He gets very quick reads on run/pass conflict. He does a great job identifying what you’re trying to do and being in the right place at the right time, and when he gets there, he’s an extremely physical player.”

— On his decision not to pursue the offensive coordinator job at Vanderbilt: “The biggest thing is we’re just getting started. Like I’ve said before, this has been a place I’ve dreamed about coaching at since I got done playing here and a little bit before that. It’s only year one. We all — as a staff, myself as a play caller — we’re all improving every week. We’ve had our ups and our downs, but when you think where this program can be and where we can take this thing with player development, with recruiting, this is a very exciting time for the program. And what a great time to be here. Also, you have loyalty to the kids who are part of this program, you have loyalty to coach (Bryan) Harsin for bringing me here. That’s the most important thing is what we have a chance to do going forward, which I think can be outstanding. I think we have tremendous potential. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

We’ll do a live chat at 8 p.m. today.

I’ve tentatively scheduled another for 8 p.m. Dec. 29, but that could change.

Live Blog Boise State bowl prep chat

LINKS

Our annual bowl guide

Ajayi, Harsin collect more honors

Boise State’s payout increases

Linebackers become focal point of Broncos’ defense

Boise State has $480,000 worth of tickets to sell

Darian Thompson getting noticed this postseason

Broncos focused on winning, not fun

Jake Roh heads home for bowl game

‘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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