12 Observations From the Boise State Fan Scrimmage
This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Boise State fan scrimmage and since fans who weren’t there won’t be able to see highlights/watch replays – here’s the recap of what I saw. These are my 12 observations from the scrimmage.
1. No Alex Mattison. What did the run game look like without him? Will he be healthy come Week one? According to the depth chart he is listed as OR with Red-shirt Senior Ryan Wolpin, meaning they will likely be sharing the running back load. Head Coach Bryan Harsin also assures us that he will be good to go Week one. I think the run game will have a healthy competition between Wolpin and Mattison, and while they would struggle without Mattison – don’t sleep on Robert Mahone who also looks like he will be getting in the running back mix this season. In the fan scrimmage, I liked Robert Mahone the best of all the backs, but overall, they all looked good. It seemed like Wolpin ran into a wall of defenders every time he got the ball, but It might have been because he was against the #1 defense.
2. Off-season injury round up. I noted a few players sidelined from injuries, they were:
Jake Shaddox (RB) Sophomore
Blake Whitlock (LB) Senior
Austin Silsby (DT) Senior
Breydon Boyd (LB) hand in cast/Freshman
Kayode Rufai (DE) in a boot/Freshman
Ezekiel Noa (LB) Freshman
Evan Tyler (S) Sophomore
No reason to be concerned though, as most of these players will likely be playing at one point this season. The only two that have been announced as out for the season are Evan Tyler and Blake Whitlock.
3. All three Quarterbacks looked good. Junior QB Brett Rypien was accurate. Backup QB Montell Cozart threw darts. Cozart also showed he can use his legs to extend plays (Rypien attempted at scrambling to add yards too). Chase Cord looked pretty poised for a true freshman. Rypien had a pass in his first drive down the field that landed in the back of the end zone nowhere near any receivera and Afterwards he was seen having a word with a receiver/TE (likely the wrong route was run). Brett also way overthrew a receiver on a route later but once again, it was likely a miscommunication with the receiver rather than inaccuracy. Bottom line, the Quarterbacks looked accurate. The balls were thrown where receivers could make plays and no interceptions were thrown. There was a bad snap on one of Chase Cord’s drives that was recovered by Matt Locher – but it’s hard to tell if that’s on the QB or the center but that exchange will be fixed with more practice.
4. Velazquez is the next great Boise State kicker/punter. Kicker Joel Velazquez is the Roberto Aguayo in a sense at Boise State (Aguayo was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL draft). He is one of, if not the highest recruited kickers BSU has ever had (a two-star coming out of HS). The difference is, this pickup won’t be a bust on the next level. Velazquez nailed all of his kicks, minus the one he had blocked – which I wouldn’t put on him. (The punt block team did have a good return on that one though, would have been a TD returned by Safety Jalen Walker). Did I mention he punts good too? While practicing with the special teams, he had a punt that would have landed on the one yard line. Red-shirt Junior Kicker Haden Hoggarth looked good too, hitting most of his kicks, but missing one wide right in one of the team drills.
5. Robert Mahone looks solid. It was the fans first view of the Texas RB Robert Mahone as he was red-shirted last season, and he’s got a good burst to him. He flew through his holes and really got up field in the opportunities he had. I’m glad we still have four years of seeing him suit up for the Broncos, as there’s a lot left to see from Robert.
6. Octavius Evans breaks ankles. I can’t remember the route that was run but after WR Octavius Evans got the catch from a Cozart pass, he planted his foot, made a cut, and made the defender go one way while his ankles went the other. Evans looked really good in the team drills with the #2 offense. He had an awesome bullet pass from Cozart on a slant that would have been a huge catch for a touchdown (would have been like a 50-60 yard reception). With lots of uncertainty with the receivers, expect to see Evans get playing time.
7. Defensive plays. In Rypien’s first drive in team drills he had a pass intended for WR Sean Modster that Safety DeAndre Pierce made a play on and broke up the pass. The defense did a good job of coverage and were there to make tackles on run plays (they didn’t tackle in this scrimmage). We didn’t see any turnovers in the scrimmage but seeing the defense make plays gives us fans hope that the defense can take advantage of more of those opportunities this season. QB Chase Cord also had his offensive drive stopped by the defense later in the scrimmage.
8. Cedrick Wilson is going to have a monster season. In the limited time we saw in their warm ups and in the scrimmage, Wilson will continue what we saw from him last season. Rypien had a perfect pass that set up a Wilson touchdown in the team drills, and we’re going to be seeing them connect on passes a whole lot more this year. When Wilson came out for warmups, the fans at Albertsons Stadium erupted in cheers, and cheering for Cedrick Wilson will become a common theme of 2017.
9. Chase Blakley might have killed a defender with a MONSTER block. Brett Rypien had the pocket collapse on a play but managed to escape and dump off a pass to WR AJ Richardson. As Richardson took off up-field parallel to the sideline, Tight End Chase Blakley destroyed some poor defender chasing after Richardson with a HUGE BLOCK (I will save the defender’s dignity by leaving out his name…I also may or may not have missed who it was). The fans were more wowed by the block than the overall play, even though it was a good play by Rypien and Richardson.
10. The return game looks improved. Cedrick Wilson returning kickoffs is a breath of fresh air to some of the poor return games that Boise State has had the past few seasons. It’s obviously risky having your #1 receiver taking big hits in a special teams role but he looked really explosive. Avery Williams was another player they had in the return game. I wrote in my notes that he had good vision to track the ball and return a punt (I think he also had the sun directly in his face – not that you’ll have an issue with this when most Boise State games are at 10 o’clock at night).
(This is how you should feel hearing the special teams unit looks improved at BSU)
11. Bronco Nation loves Brett Rypien. The line to have the offense sign autographs was much longer than the defense (No love for the defense), and besides Cedrick Wilson, the big star at the tables was Brett. When they cut off the line due to shortage of time, there were grumbles of fans who just wanted to have Rypien sign things – quite contrary to the constant negative twitter takes on the Boise State QB. But it is refreshing to see Boise embrace a Quarterback not named Kellen.
12. Keep an eye on the Broncos defensive line. There are a lot of young players on the defensive line and many have the chance to have a breakout season this year. In the scrimmage team drills, Cozart was at QB and Nose Tackle Sonatane Lui had what would have been a sack. Defensive End Durrant Miles also applied pressure on the same drive. Boise’s defensive line can make or break a great defense this year (with three new starting LBs this season), and it will really pay dividends if them applying pressure leads to turnovers.
Overall it was really cool experience to be up and close with the players, chat with them, and see all their hard work from the off-season in the scrimmage. I’d highly recommend going in the future if you get the chance. It’s always good to have a mix of offense and defense winning in practice and although the offense probably won the scrimmage, the defense looked good (Also hard to shine as a defense when you can’t tackle).
Like what you saw? Like/comment/tweet/share and tell your grandma all about it. Did you see anything else at the scrimmage I didn’t mention? Let me know!
Photo cred: memegenerator.net, broncosports.com, imgflip.com