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Boise State football: Deciphering the QB situation

The makeup of the Boise State backfield is very much up in the air Friday night. The good news for the Broncos: there’s a lot BYU has to prepare for.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, November 4, 2020.

Coach Bryan Harsin’s unusual 7 a.m. press conference Tuesday didn’t reveal anything unusual about Boise State’s quarterback outlook for Friday’s game versus BYU. If Hank Bachmeier is able to practice by today, he’d be able to suit up for the Cougars. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’d start over Jack Sears, the star of last Saturday’s win over Air Force. Even if he is back on the field today, Bachmeier would have some catchup to do in BYU game prep. And what if Sears puts together another monster game—this time against a top 10 team? Then what? At any rate, the Cougars have to prepare for both of them.

We still don’t know what kept Bachmeier from traveling to Colorado Springs last week, but George Holani’s leg injury at Air Force was there for all TV viewers to see. The running back spot is different as far as preparation is concerned, and if Holani can practice today, he could contribute Friday. Andrew Van Buren is standing by. And don’t count out Boise State offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau getting creative with Khalil Shakir. KTVB’s Jay Tust notes that at Air Force, Shakir lined up five times at running back, twice at wingback and once as a Wildcat quarterback.

RELATED: Boise State football: Perusing the polls

HARSIN MORE DEFINITIVE ON THESE THREE

JL Skinner and Tyreque Jones will “hopefully” be on the field Friday night, according to Harsin. Skinner was left home last week, and Jones was injured late in the Utah State game and didn’t play much at Air Force. Boise State’s starting safeties could be a critical piece of the puzzle against Zach Wilson and BYU. If they’re in, that would allow Kekaula Kaniho and Avery Williams to play nickel and cornerback, respectively. Unfortunately, there was no uncertainty regarding Demitri Washington’s status. Harsin announced that Washington’s season is over after the serious knee injury he suffered in Colorado Springs. He was the consensus best player on the Broncos defense going into the fall, and he will be missed.

HE’S ‘MR.DEEP ROUTE’ SO FAR

That abnormal CT Thomas box score line last Saturday has garnered some national recognition. Boise State’s senior wide receiver made the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award National Honor Roll for the week after his two catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns at Air Force. Thomas was already on the 2020 watch list for that award. After two games, he leads the Broncos with 30.5 yards per reception.

RELATED: Boise State football: Definition of ‘next man up’

COMPANIONS FOR CARDBOARD CUTOUTS?

Riley Whimpey’s efforts (and/or those of his mom, Barb) may yet pay off. Boise State is asking Central District Health for an exception to CDH restrictions on gatherings to allow at least the immediate family of players—and as many as 1,100 people—to attend Friday night’s game. 

Barb Whimpey has been lobbying Boise State for weeks to allow parents of players and coaches to attend games. Riley has been, well, supporting his mom. Players would be able to request two tickets apiece (three if they are married). The school is hoping for an answer by Thursday morning. Can 1,100 sound like 36,000? Not exactly. That elicits memories of the loudest crowd in Albertsons Stadium history, the Broncos’ 7-6 win over the Cougars in the debut of this 12-year series in 2012.

DOING THE RIGHT THING

When I saw this yesterday, I thought, “Y’know, that might be my favorite statement ever from Bryan Harsin. Some programs asked for waivers from the NCAA mandate that all schools take Election Day off from all athletic activity. Mississippi State coach Mike Leach was especially vocal against the rule, which was approved in June. And here’s Boise State, with a short week in preparation for a very difficult matchup against BYU Friday night. What did Harsin say? "It was important then. It's important now. Deal with it." A subtle nod to his players, like Donte Harrington, who organized a big voter registration drive for teammates and coaches.

RELATED: Boise State football: Stay in your lane

CLEVELAND’S STOCK RISING

It wasn’t a signature day for Alexander Mattison on Sunday. But his former Boise State teammate, Ezra Cleveland, is starting to make his mark. Cleveland started his second game for Minnesota in a 28-22 upset of Green Bay at Lambeau Field. His run-blocking grade was a solid 75.5 and his pass-blocking grade a stellar 83.7, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF compared Cleveland to fourth-year Vikings center Pat Elflein, who’s had only three career games better than Cleveland’s run-blocking number and just one better than his pass-blocking grade. Mattison was used sparingly against the Packers, gaining eight yards on three carries. That was because Dalvin Cook was running wild with a 163-yard day.

OPTIMIST YOUTH FOOTBALL – THEN AND NOW

I’ll include this in the recognition of Albertsons Stadium’s 50th anniversary (which basically is not being officially recognized due to the pandemic). It was 50 years ago on Halloween that Optimist Youth Football played in the stadium for the first time. Names in that day’s program included the future Boise High Dilulo brothers, Ray and Fabian, Rick Woods, Larry Alder, Dave Bieter and the inimitable John Brunelle. And props to Jerron Moore and all the OYF volunteers for getting the 2020 season in the books. It was a massive challenge, with detailed safety protocols that exceeded what you see at most high schools in the valley. And they stuck to them. It provided a slice of normalcy for 1,800 youth players and cheerleaders.

RELATED: Boise State football: Turning the corner vs. Air Force?

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…November 4, 2012:

Former Boise State star Doug Martin becomes the first player in NFL history to score three rushing touchdowns of 45 yards or more in a single game. Martin’s TDs went for 45, 67 and 70 yards as he ran for a franchise-record 251 yards, 10th best NFL mark ever, in Tampa Bay’s 42-32 win at Oakland. The Buccaneers rookie had a fourth score from one yard out to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Just 10 days earlier, Martin had recorded his first 100-yard game. The only other former Bronco ever to rush for 100 yards in an NFL contest was Brock Forsey, who had 134 for the Chicago Bears in a 2003 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.) 

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