Bronco Beat

Boise State football’s Fall Fan Fest offers some insight into position battles

A few hundred Boise State football fans braved the hot temperatures Saturday to take in the Broncos’ open practice and post-practice autograph/photo session.

It also gave a little more insight into some position battles across the roster.

“It was cool having the fans out here,” junior linebacker Joe Martarano said. “... it kind of brings up the energy a little bit, gave us something to look forward to in practice.”

The practice had a few 11-on-11 drills, something the media has only seen a few times in fall camp. Most noteable was the absence of senior Chanceller James and sophomore Dylan Sumner-Gardner at safety on the first- or second-team defense. The pair just saw work with the scout team. Junior Cameron Hartsfield and redshirt freshman Evan Tyler were the No. 1s.

I asked coach Bryan Harsin point-blank if Sumner-Gardner would play in the opener Sept. 3, and he said “we’re still going through another week of practice and all that.” Sumner-Gardner missed most of last season with an injury, getting a redshirt once the season was complete. He faced a misdemeanor drug charge when he was pulled over in November, and pled guilty in February. He did not make the Poinsettia Bowl trip. Harsin has repeatedly been asked about his status, but has not said if he will play or not.

James did not play in the spring game, and asked afterward, Harsin said he wasn’t hurt but “wasn’t out there today.” In July at Mountain West media days, asked about the two safeties, he said “Right now, it's still in that same mode we talked about in the spring, we still have summer to finish up and we still have fall camp to finish up, then we re-evaluate from there.”

Other news and notes:

▪  Among those not participating in the practice were junior tight end Jake Roh, sophomore linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, senior offensive tackles Mario Yakoo and Will Adams and freshman receiver Julian Carter. Harsin said Thursday there have been some players hurt in fall camp, but no season-ending injuries. Roh sported a large brace on his left leg:

▪  A handful of true freshmen saw second-team snaps on both sides of the ball, including: running back Alexander Mattison, receiver Bubba Ogbebor, tight end John Bates, defensive tackle Sonatane Lui, linebacker Tyson Maeva, safety Kekoa Nawahine, cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros and defensive back DeAndre Pierce. To open team drills, the second-team safeties were Nawahine and Pierce (who has mainly played cornerback).

▪  Junior receiver Cedrick Wilson provided some highlights, as he has often done since he arrived at Boise State, hauling in a long Rypien pass that wowed the crowd, and also took a screen pass for a touchdown.

▪  Senior receiver Taylor Pope spoke with the media after the practice. He was placed on scholarship last weekend following a team hike up Table Rock. Pope has shown some toughness, playing special teams, and on his only career catch (a 7-yarder against Wyoming in 2014), he broke his collarbone on the play, but finished the series.

“It definitely still really hasn’t hit me much, it was very shocking, I didn’t see it coming but it was a true blessing,” Pope said.