Boise State football coaches said Monday that sophomore Ryan Finley remains the team's starting quarterback but must reduce his turnovers.
Finley has thrown four interceptions in his first two career starts, including three in last week's loss at BYU. The Cougars scored 14 points off those turnovers.
"He is the starter," coach Bryan Harsin said. "There's always competition and that's real, for every position. We're only game two. We still have a lot of season ahead of us."
Added offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz: "Ryan gives us the best chance to win and Ryan needs all the experience he can get."
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Finley showed improvement in his second start, the coaches said, outside of the turnovers. He handled a difficult road environment, managed the game well and led two touchdown drives to start the second half.
"At the same time," Harsin said, "we need to eliminate the turnovers. We need to be stingy with the football."
Drinkwitz took some of the blame for the interceptions. He said he can put Finley in better situations and coach him better.
"We're two weeks into the process with Ryan Finley as the starting quarterback," Drinkwitz said. "I thought he showed tremendous growth as far as managing the game, but he had three decisions that cost us."
Drinkwitz clearly was still bothered by his own performance in the BYU game. The Broncos squandered excellent field position in the second quarter and failed to close out the game when they got the ball with a little more than 5 minutes left.
Drinkwitz watched video on the bus ride to the airport.
"I didn't handle it very well, to be honest with you," he said of his reaction. "It is what it is. We're moving on. I was sick to my stomach. I felt bad for the football team, our coaches and our players and our fans because we had one that was close and didn't get it done. I put it a lot on myself. I feel like I can do better. I am going to do better.
"... We're going to let the past be a great teacher but we're not going to dwell on it. Failure is never final and it's never fatal. That's our motto this week. We failed — we didn't win the game —but that's not final and it's not fatal unless we sit here and dwell on it."
A few other quick notes (more to come):
— Senior defensive tackle Antoine Turner hasn't played this season because of an eligibility issue. The situation is regarding academics, Harsin said.
— Junior wide receiver Rick Smith "is still not able to play," Harsin said. He hasn't played this season. He was injured in a locker room incident in the offseason.
— BYU has decided on internal discipline for offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho, who punched Boise State nickel Chanceller James below the belt during last week's game. Lapuaho was flagged for the hit.
“In the heat of the battle, these young men make mistakes on both sides,” Harsin said. “I’m disappointed just from the standpoint that I think we have an unbelievable sport and there’s no place for that in the sport. I’m proud of our guys for not retaliating and handling it the right way. I’m sure they’re disappointed as well. Things happen on the field and emotions are high. That’s something you just don’t want to see.”
“He made a mistake,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters in Utah. “He knows it, I know it — I think the world knows it.”
This happened during the Boise State BYU Game http://t.co/fBF9tSxzLM— Brandon Spiegel (@BrandonSpiegel) September 13, 2015
— Boise State wide receiver commit Derrion Grim, the longest-standing commit in the 2016 class, has switched his commitment to Nebraska, he tweeted Monday.
— Boise State’s internal players of the game: wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (offense), linebacker Tanner Vallejo (defense), linebacker Darren Lee (special teams), offensive tackle Rees Odhiambo (offensive lineman) and defensive end Tyler Horn (defensive lineman).
— The Broncos will practice Tuesday-Thursday this week like normal to preserve the Monday off-day. The Friday game against Idaho State (7 p.m.) means the team loses a walk-through.
— The Broncos changed the depth chart to reflect the way they actually have lined up with senior Justin Taimatuia at three-technique tackle and senior Tutulupeatau Mataele as a backup.
Note: I have videos from the press conference but because of some technical issues they won't be posted until this evening.
— On mistakes vs. BYU: “I wouldn’t ever say sloppy. There were some plays that we didn’t make. I don’t think we go out there and play sloppy football. There were three plays that were made where the quarterback threw the ball up and we broke coverage. The one that was the biggest difference-maker was the one on third-and-19 that they hit. It wasn’t a touchdown but at that point the momentum changed. ... The disappointing part was the penalties, that we had that many in the game.”
— On losing the turnover battle again: “The key ingredient to me is the turnovers. We did not win the turnover battle in the first game either. When you do that, statistically you lose football games. We’ve got to be stingy with the football on the offensive side.”
— On losing: “Losing is no fun and nobody enjoys that. At the same time, it also brings up a lot of little things that maybe when you’re winning don’t get heard as much. And when you lose, it’s nothing big but it’s all the little things that add up. ... As disappointing as it is, it also ignites you a little bit because it’s a chance to go out there and prove that you can get it done when you didn’t the week before. That’s how I feel about it. When I’ve lost games, I didn’t sit there and cry about it. It was time to get back to work and really it lights a fire that you want to get back out there on the football field and prove it and get it done. That’s our mentality, and it needs to be.”
— On Finley: “He’s done a nice job of handling himself in the game. He’s kept his composure out there. He’s preparing week to week better. That will show up again this week. At the same time, we need to eliminate the turnovers.”
— On BYU’s pass defense: “Their safeties did a good job. They disguised. They could roam on the field pretty well. But you learn from that when you play players like that and looks like that and that needs to show up in the next game.”
— On senior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes’ big game: “Coach Drinkwitz did a great job of finding ways to get him the football and he made a lot of plays.”
— On Sunday’s practice: “Their attention to detail and their focus, it was what you wanted it to be after a game like that, a hard-fought game and a loss. ... I think they’re all eager to get back on that football field.”
— On the airplane trouble that delayed the team’s arrival in Boise until about 6 a.m. Sunday: “Our guys handled it really well. We changed planes. Nobody batted an eye. ... I told those guys I was proud of those guys how they handled it.”
— On the short week: “By the time we hit Thursday’s practice and we flip it to a (usual) Friday night, after what we just played in we’re going to be ready to play. I wish the game was bumped up a little bit earlier on Friday so we can get out there and get after it.”
— On Mataele making his debut last week: “He’s only going to get better. We expect him from this point on to be playing for us.”
— On senior tailback Kelsey Young not getting a carry: “It wasn’t anything he did. That was the flow of the game. We threw the ball more. We had a couple different guys carry the ball on sweep stuff. Week to week, things change.”
— On playing a second quarterback: “You’d love to have an opportunity for those guys to play. We have our decision depending on what happens. But we haven’t had to make that decision yet. We have a plan at the backup position but it depends on kind of what happens, but you’d love to get a guy in there and play. We just haven’t been in those games.”
Eliah Drinkwitz, offensive coordinator
— On the rush Finley faced: “Protection is an 11-man job. And it’s the coaching staff’s job. We’ve got to do a better job protecting the quarterback.”
— On Finley: “We definitely had the attack mindset early and even through the whole game. I thought Ryan had some really good moments. I thought he handled the game for the most part really well. That third quarter, he was really feeling it.”
— On Idaho State: “They use an odd front just like the previous two games (three-man line), which is good and bad for us. It’s good because it’s another opponent to see if we can do it and bad because we haven’t handled it the way we need to handle it.”
— On the run game: “We didn’t sustain blocks. Regardless of whether we won or lost, we were going to have this same conversation on that. It’s got to be corrected.”
Marcel Yates, defensive coordinator
— He said the Broncos had trouble with Tanner Mangum’s scrambling when in zone coverage. Players weren’t sure which receiver to follow when plays broke down. “We need to do a drill for that,” Yates said.
— On BYU’s handful of long passing plays: “Everything was pretty good besides that, but that’s all they needed. If you play 80 snaps and 75 snaps are good but they make five plays, to my math five times seven is points.”
— On the game-winning TD pass: “I wanted to bring some heat on him and play more man to man, so if he did scramble we had guys actually on guys. It was man free. We brought five guys. We didn’t get there. We had a post player. From what had gone on before, when he went to his right he threw to his right. We overplayed to our left (his right) and then he throws the ball back. So he made a play.”
— On Taimatuia’s penalty for playing with his helmet off: “It’s tough because his helmet was knocked off by the other team — I’m just being honest.”
— On safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner joking about his poor hands and then dropping a potential interception: “Stop joking and saying you can’t catch — you’ll end up not being good at it. We’ll do some drills to help him out. The interception he dropped, that I thought was a big play. He can catch the ball.”
— On trash talking: “We’re doing too much talking. ... It will be addressed.”
— The Cougars scored a rushing touchdown while starting cornerback Jonathan Moxey was on the bench for arguing with the official and drawing a penalty. True freshman Tyler Horton, the replacement, slipped on the play. “He hurt the team,” Yates said of Moxey.
— Idaho State coach Mike Kramer gave Yates his first coaching job. He said Kramer’s nickname at the time was “The Big Human.”