Boise State sophomore starting quarterback Ryan Finley will miss about eight weeks with a broken bone in his right ankle, coach Bryan Harsin said Sunday.
He doesn’t plan to name a starting quarterback this week. He expects sophomore Tommy Stuart and true freshman Brett Rypien to play. The amount each plays will depend on the game plan, he said.
“I did like the combination of Tommy and Ryp,” Harsin said. “What type of packages we put together this week and how much each one is going to have an opportunity to go in there and run it, that’s still a work in progress. ... I feel good about the quarterback position.”
Stuart replaced Finley when the injury happened Friday against Idaho State. The former JC transfer was 9-for-13 for 69 yards and a touchdown with three sacks.
Rypien took over on the second possession of the second half, after coaches learned more about Finley’s injury. The Spokane, Wash., product was 8-for-9 for 126 yards. He led three touchdown drives in three tries with the first team and a field goal drive with the second team.
Their combined success changed Harsin’s thinking about what he would do if Finley got hurt.
“I probably wouldn’t have thought (about using both) until I saw both guys play,” Harsin said. “... Both guys played well in their debuts. That’s what earned them opportunities to play. How much, I don’t know at this point.”
Harsin and offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said the plays won’t be much different depending on the quarterback but each guy puts his own spin on certain plays. Stuart is the Broncos’ best runner at quarterback.
“We’re not going to go with two different offenses,” Harsin said. “But we may have some packages in there that complement one guy more. We really didn’t have that the last game. We had the Finley package. Those guys needed to operate it if they went in the game. This week may be a little different.”
If Finley returns after eight weeks, that would put him back on the field for the Air Force game on Nov. 20. But if he doesn’t play again this season he will be eligible to apply for a sixth year of eligibility because he was out with a shoulder injury for the entire 2013 season and hasn’t played in 30 percent of the Broncos’ games in 2015.
The full extent of Finley’s injury and recovery time won’t be known until doctors check him out Monday, Harsin said.
Also of note:
— Junior defensive end Gabe Perez is going to have shoulder surgery and redshirt, since he played as a true freshman. True freshman Durrant Miles, a returning missionary, played against Idaho State and will provide additional depth at end.
— Senior defensive end Rondell McNair is out four weeks with a knee (MCL) injury.
Other notable quotes and notes from the press conference are below:
— The players of the game against Idaho State were tight end Holden Huff (offense), linebacker Tyler Gray (defense), punt returner Donte Deayon (special teams), guard Travis Averill (offensive line) and tackle Justin Taimatuia (defensive line).
— On Virginia’s offense: “They do a lot of things that are probably similar to what we do as far as movement, personnel and a lot of different looks. The nice thing about that is our defense gets a chance to see it. The difficult thing is we also think what we do is difficult to prepare for. .. We’ve got to play more physical than we’ve played and handle the environment as well.”
— After his opening statement and before questions began, Harsin said, “You want me to just ask it myself?” Then he gave the injury update on Finley.
— He said Stuart’s stumble at the end of a 24-yard run is an example of what happens when a guy plays for the first time. “Kind of wobbly legs,” Harsin said. “We kind of laughed at it.”
— On what he told Rypien about this season: “If we get to a certain point and it’s not smart to play you because we’d waste a year, we’re not going to do that. But you need to be prepared to play because we’re planning to win when we step out there and play whoever we’re going to play.” Added Harsin: “I don’t think you go out there and play and go 3-for-3 and play with the poise he did if you’re not prepared.”
— On the run game vs. Idaho State: “Our inside zone, which is up the middle and has been the most efficient play sine we’ve been in this offense, actually hit. The line dented the defense and the backs hit the hole.”
— The Broncos will leave Wednesday afternoon, two days before the game, as they usually do for East Coast games. They’ll get to Virginia late Wednesday night.
— On Finley: “Finley’s doing fine. He’s like anybody who gets injured: disappointed. ... He’s going to help this football team. One thing about Finley is he’s very bright. He understands the game. He’s a very good leader. He’s going to help our football team. That’s part of his job. Regardless of whether he’s playing or not, he’s going to continue to be our quarterback.”
OC Eliah Drinkwitz
— On the advantages of the two-QB situation: “The advantages are I know exactly what we’re going to do for each guy and can get those guys those reps and play to their strengths and I don’t know that anybody else does. I don’t think the outside world does. We’ll have a little bit of new things for them.”
— On the disadvantages: “You just don’t know what you’re going to get from those guys yet, as far as live bullets in an away game with a hostile crowd. There’s still a lot of growing that has to happen. ... The unknown.”
— On Stuart and Rypien vs. Idaho State: “They ran a lot of the same plays. They put their own twist on it. That’s what any quarterback does. Brett did a great job finding his check down. Tommy did a great job running with his feet. Both of them were effective with doing that. ... We’re going to run our offense. We’ll play to their strengths, but it won’t be drastic.”
— On Rypien: “He did a nice job handling the whole thing. He was ready, he was prepared, he was confident. That’s the thing I saw at halftime. I guess it was as good as you hoped it could have been.”
— On the Broncos’ fast-paced offense when Rypien was in: “(Idaho State was) trying to start out with 12 on the field. We would change personnel (and they’d adjust). It actually cost them down in the red zone on third down. They had 12 on the field. ... They were trying to match a lot of personnel so we said, ‘All right, we’ll see if you can match the speed.”
— On using two QBs: “We’ll just see how it goes. If one guy gets the hot hand, kind of like running back, you usually let him get in there and keep rolling.”
— On Stuart, who arrived in January 2014: “He’s grown a whole lot, especially being a student of the game, understanding our offense. He has a great personality. People like him. Our team likes him.”
— On Stuart playing near his hometown of Baltimore: “It’s going to be exciting for him. He’s asking for a lot of tickets from all his buddies. And he’s played against a lot of these guys in high school or knows of them. I’m sure it’s going to be exciting. But you’ve got to do a good job managing your emotions.”
— He isn’t happy with the Broncos’ high numbers of sacks and penalties: “Those are the glaring issues ... and I’m really sick of it. I’m tired of costing us five yards because we can’t wait on the snap count and I’m tired of giving up sacks that aren’t exotic blitzes. It’s on everybody. (Stuart) took two bad sacks in that game, 100 percent on him. There was one where the protection wasn’t the way it needed to be. Quite frankly, it’s ticking me off. That’s got to get corrected. We’re not explosive enough to overcome those things.”
— On the inexperience at QB: “A lot has been made of Brett and Tommy being young. They have two less games than Ryan did. We’re all pretty young at this.”
DC Marcel Yates
— On the shutout: “We played hard. We played smart. We had some key stops there. The one thing I still think we need to improve on is turnovers, creating turnovers. There was one on the ground that we didn’t get and it’s still hard to believe we didn’t get it because we had it seemed like four guys there to get the ball. We haven’t hit our mark yet. Our goal is three.”
— On cornerback Jonathan Moxey: “His feet and his hips to me are a ton better. And then his eyes. He has his eyes in the right place. At cornerback, you can’t peek. He’s a guy who would peek a little.”
— On the defense. “We haven’t won a game on the road, so to me we can’t say we’ve arrived because we still have to win on the road. So to me this is a big game for us.”
— On Virginia: “They have every personnel group in the book. They use a lot of players with those groups. For us, it’s going to be tough because you only have so much time in a day. We have to have all those looks. ... They’ll be in certain personnel groups and they may not line up in that actual group you think they’re going to be in. It can be two backs and it can be a tight end and they may be in a 10 personnel set (one back, no tight ends). ... They’re trying to make you think a lot.”
Safety Darian Thompson
— On Virginia: “When I watch them, the thing that stands out the most is just the athleticism. They’re very athletic. They know how to make plays.”
— On traveling a day early: “We’re away from all the distractions. ... I like it so far, all the times I’ve traveled over there it’s been good. We’ll be ready.”
— On the QBs: “(Rypien) looked nice when he was out there on the field last week, but so did Tommy. Our quarterback situation is not a big worry for any of us. We have guys that can go out and make plays. When it’s time, they’re going to go out and play their hearts out.”