Bronco Beat

Harsin: Broncos’ starters step up in scrimmage

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin, post-Aug. 19, part I

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin discusses the Broncos' closed scrimmage and his team's progress in fall camp Aug. 19, 2016.
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Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin discusses the Broncos' closed scrimmage and his team's progress in fall camp Aug. 19, 2016.

Unlike after the Boise State football team’s first scrimmage last week, coach Bryan Harsin appeared before the media sans wig Friday.

The Broncos held a scrimmage behind closed doors, and Harsin felt good about his top groups.

“I thought the majority of the starters played like starters, I thought the majority of the backups played like starters ... still too many guys playing like backups,” Harsin said. “I thought the 3s and the young guys were just OK.”

A key in fall camp has been building depth, and though the Broncos have numbers, they’re still sorting through who will be field-ready. Harsin had plenty of praise for the defense, comparing it to the 1986 movie The Best Of Times, with Robin Williams facing down a fierce defender. He said “the defense was good ... I thought the 3 offense was not very good today, I thought the defense played well.”

According to Harsin, “today was separation day,” helping the team get a better idea of where the depth chart may lie and which freshmen could play early. Among those that he praised were defensive tackle Chase Hatada, walk-on nose tackle Sonatane Lui, kicker/punter Joel Velazquez and running back Alexander Mattison. He also said the “usual suspects” like sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien and his veteran linebacker corps have performed well.

▪  Sophomore Jabril Frazier and redshirt freshman Sam Whitney have been competing for first-team snaps at STUD. Junior Gabe Perez has missed a few practices, Harsin said, but is still in the mix.

▪  Senior Will Adams and junior Archie Lewis continue to battle for the starting left tackle spot and “we’ve got to solidify that here in the next couple days.”

▪  There are no glaring issues, Harsin said, but said “we’ve absolutely overloaded with scheme,” and that the team will pull back in the next few days, start figuring out the issues as the gameplan for Louisiana is put in place.

▪  Harsin again said no major injuries of not have happened thus far in camp.

▪  Speaking to the media for the first time since the Broncos publicly acknowledged they will make a pitch to the Big 12 Conference for possible membership, Harsin said “it’s been a presidential conversation ... the document they used, there’s great stuff in there.” He said he hasn’t had many discussions about it, but President Bob Kustra and Athletic Director Curt Apsey have asked for “some advice” from Harsin, who spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons at Texas.

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Harsin said the team put redshirt junior walk-on long snapper Matt Cota on scholarship Thursday. The Eagle High graduate has also worked at Cabela’s in addition to his football and school responsibilities, Harsin said. Cota is the second walk-on put on scholarship during fall camp, joining offensive lineman Kellen Buhr, a Capital High graduate.

“It was a good moment in the team room,” Harsin said. “... there’s not very many guys on our team that’s ever had that schedule, so I think those guys appreciate that a whole lot.”

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A name that has seemingly come out of nowhere but has been mentioned quite a bit the last three weeks is junior linebacker Blake Whitlock, a walk-on transfer from Saddleback (Calif.) College. A 6-foot-1, 208-pounder, he had 59 tackles and three sacks last season for the Gauchos. Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos noted how well he ran in the offseason prior to fall camp starting, and special teams coordinator Kent Riddle said Thursday he’s stood out in the punt and kick groups.

“One of the new faces, Blake Whitlock, he’s got quite a few reps — he doesn’t know everything, but he’s actually played fairly well,” Harsin said, adding that “he’s certainly putting himself in a position to contribute.”

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In today’s Statesman, I featured the Broncos’ quarterbacks. On Saturday, we’ll look at the running backs.

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The Boise State recruiting Twitter account posted this pretty great video of the freshmen singing the fight song:

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