Bronco Beat

QB Brett Rypien speaks: ‘I have to lead this offense ... I need to be better’

Boise State true freshman quarterback Brett Rypien was made available to the media Monday for the first time since he arrived on campus in January.

Rypien has started the past seven games.

Coach Bryan Harsin said he brought Rypien to the press conference to enhance his budding leadership role on the team.

“It’s about leadership and really that’s a big part of what we need,” Harsin said of his team, which has lost two of its past four games. “This team needs leadership. ... It’s something I feel and I think our coaches feel that’s very important for us as we move forward and play in these last two games, that we have the leadership to go out there and finish the right way. ... It’s an opportunity for him to expand on his leadership role.”

Highlights from Rypien:

— On the passing game against New Mexico: “We need to be better as an offense as a whole and I need to be better. It starts with me. Whether I’m throwing a hair early or I’m just an inch off with a guy on an in-breaking route, it needs to be better, and that’s the bottom line.”

— On getting a chance to play as a true freshman when starter Ryan Finley broke an ankle: “I had to seize it. I knew that when my time was called, I was going to have to be ready. ... When Ryan went down, obviously that was a very tough thing f or our offense. But those guys looked to me and they knew I had to step up. I was just trying to do everything I could to get the offense going and get in the end zone.”

— On his first two months playing: “It’s definitely been a whirlwind. It’s definitely been up and down for sure. That’s the hardest part about college football is being consistent every single week. That’s something we have to continue to improve on, but that starts with me. I don’t care if I’m a freshman or a senior, I have to lead this offense. Whether that’s in practice or in the film room, there’s little things that we have to do out there that need to be better in order for us to get wins consistently and just be better on offense consistently.”

— On his expectation for this year: “For me, it was all about progress. Coming into fall camp, my whole goal was just to get better every single day. ... I’ve grown so much since that first day of spring ball. That’s a huge credit to our coaches. (Offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz) has done a great job, coach Harsin has done a great job. I was always prepared to play.”

— On playing as a true freshman: “I really don’t feel like I’m a true freshman because I’ve been here since spring. At the same time, I had to be ready and I knew that whether it was the first game of the year or the last game of the year, I was going to have to be ready.”

— On the QB competition in the offseason: “When I first knew that I could do some good things at this level was during our second fall scrimmage. Our second-team offense went against our first-team defense that first drive and we went down and scored. That’s when I really started to feel comfortable. During spring ball, I struggled a lot. My mechanics, I had to fix a lot of things mechanically that I had gotten into bad habits my senior year of high school. Coming into fall camp, I knew that I was just going to have to get better every single day.”

— On his preparation: “It’s just being consistent is the biggest thing. You’ve got to prepare consistently every single week with your preparation in the film room and out on the practice field. You’ve got to bring it every single day in college football because if you don’t make the plays in practice you’re not going to make the plays in the game. Our guys on offense have done an unbelievable job of getting me prepared every single week — our coaches and our players. That’s been huge for me.”

— On the New Mexico game: “Any time you have 600 yards of offense, you know you’re doing some good things, but at the end of the day we have to finish and we can’t have turnovers. That starts with me. We’ve got to get better timing with our receivers and we’ve got to work some stuff. I trust those guys to make plays. I trust anybody who’s going to get the ball to make a play. I don’t care who it is, if you’re going to come in and you get open, you’re getting the ball. That’s the mentality I have.”

— He said his best memory so far is his first start, against Virginia, with his uncle Mark Rypien in the stands. Mark is a former Super Bowl MVP. He said his favorite play so far was his touchdown catch because he hadn’t done that before.

— On how his high school experience carried over: “Definitely throwing in high school with the amount that we threw was huge for me. Being able to learn different coverages — I saw a lot of different coverages in high school. A team would have a different game plan for us every single week because of the way we played. ... At the same time, I think it’s been a struggle for me learning because obviously there’s new things to learn in college as well. Teams are just better schematically. They disguise coverages a lot better. That’s been tough.”

— On wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck: “He just has a really good understanding of the game, whether it’s adjusting a route against a certain coverage or just always has a good feel for getting open. Obviously he’s got great hands as well. You put the ball in the vicinity, he’s going to make a play. Just week by week we’ve been gaining more trust. I know he’s going to make a play in critical situations.”

— Rypien said the throw out the back of the end zone on fourth-and-1 was a bad decision on his part. He went for the touchdown instead of taking a short throw for the first down because New Mexico left the receiver in man coverage. “That play wasn’t designed to do that,” he said. “Just didn’t make the play.”

— On the final drive against New Mexico: “We practice that all the time. We practice clutch situations. That’s something I still need to improve on. If you go back to that drive, there were a couple decisions I wish I wouldn’t have made. At the same time, you just learn from it.”

— On the offense being pass-heavy: “Any time the coaches trust me to have the ball in my hand and throw it 75 times, then I better be making good decisions with it. If they instill that trust in me, then I have to make good decisions and make good plays. It’s definitely been a great learning experience this year, especially with the leadership we’ve had and the guys on offense that have just really helped me develop as a person and a player.”

— On his demeanor: “That’s one of the main keys of playing quarterback, you have to be calm back there, because there’s a lot of stuff going on. There’s stuff coming in your face, guys especially in college now they’re rolling coverages a lot better than they were in high school, so you’ve got to be able to see that and just calm your mind so you know when you watched film your preparation has told you where they’re going to be in certain situations. That’s really the biggest thing for me, the mental preparation, because if I go out there and I know what they’re going to do it’s just going to make it a whole lot easier.”

— On former offensive coordinator Mike Sanford leaving: “Coach Sanford had to do w hat he wanted to do. He had to take that job (at Notre Dame). That was his decision. I think it’s been a blessing in disguise. Coach Drink has done an unbelievable job of getting me prepared every single week. I’ve built a really good relationship with him.”

— On Mark Rypien’s advice: “I can always remember my uncle telling me this back in fifth grade: ‘You never want to be surprised by anything you’re going to see by a defense. You should always watch film to the point where you know everything that’s going to happen out there because that’s going to make your job at a quarterback a lot easier.’ ”

— On Boise State making him available to the media this week: “I think it was time now. I was just doing what they were telling me to do. Now that we’re talking to the media, that’s fine.”

— On where he needs to improve: “Just being consistent. I need to be better, I think, preparing week to week. I pride myself on my preparation. That’s one thing that I really do. But at the same time it’s not only the film room but going out to practice every day with a mentality that we need to bring it today, as an offense as a whole. That’s the mentality that we need to take every single day — I don’t care if you’re having a bad day, our motto is ‘Be the Best.’ You’ve got to be the best version of yourself every single day.”

— On his leadership style: “As a quarterback you have to be both — you have to be a guy that you can lead by example but when you need a voice you’ve got to be that voice. That’s something that you’ve just got to have. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re playing quarterback you have to be a leader and you have to get those guys to rally around you and know that you’re going to go out there and do everything you can so that they trust you and they’ll make plays for you.”

— On this year: “Especially during spring ball, I don’t think I would have pictured even playing. It’s all been about progress for me. I wanted to get better every single day. That’s the attitude I’ve taken and I feel like I’ve done that.”

— On Finley eventually returning (he has a ways to go physically, Harsin said): “I’m not really too worried about that. Ryan’s been really good to me ever since I’ve gotten here. He’s helped me a lot to learn the offense. I know we’re both going to continue to work hard and whatever’s best for the team is best for the team.”

— On that photo of his locker showing No. 11, a jersey he hasn’t worn (he’s No. 4): “There was some confusion when I first got here. I thought I was going to wear it, but it ended up not working out. I just went with No. 4. I think I wore that in hockey a few years. There’s no real story behind that number.” Boise State all but retired Kellen Moore’s old No. 11 in the spring.

— Rypien plans to major in international business with a minor in a foreign language, possibly Mandarin Chinese or French.

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Offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz also was part of Monday’s press conference. I’ll have more from him tomorrow in the Offense Report post, but here’s what he said about Rypien:

— “We’re not going to ever use him being a freshman as an excuse. He’s our quarterback.”

— “The thing is, nobody is harder on Brett Rypien than Brett Rypien. There’s a fine line between teachable moments but not hurting his confidence. He makes decisions and it’s easy for people to criticize and judge, including me, after the fact. The guy is making decisions at a 90-miles-an-hour pace. He’s got people coming on blitzes, the crowd. ... A couple decisions, had he executed, would have been fine. ... We’re not disappointed in him. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. He threw it 75 times and we needed to throw it every one of those to try to dig our way out of it.”

— On Rypien’s progression: “We’ve kind of been honest about that the whole time. He struggled in the spring trying to figure everything out. In the summer, he worked extremely hard. In fall camp he settled in. The first scrimmage was OK. The second scrimmage was a lot better. That gave us confidence that he could come in and play. He got an opportunity and he took off with it.”