Broncos Still Haven’t Found What They’re Looking For

BY MIKE PRATER
THE IDAHO PRESS

BOISE — Harsin, we have a problem.

Or is it the exact opposite?

The Boise State football team is halfway through August, less than two weeks away from one of the biggest games in school history, and a shroud of questions and mysteries hover above three of the most important positions on the roster.

In football, as you know, a majority of the scoring is produced by four positions:

Quarterback.

Running back.

Wide receiver.

Kicker.

Coach Bryan Harsin can check the wide receivers box — unless he’s worried about juggling one of the most talented, deepest positions on the roster. He’s not.

But quarterback? Still working on it after Friday night’s critical scrimmage, where depth charts are made, and three players continue to battle in what has emerged as a tight race.

Running back? Five players are in the mix, only two are really needed, and a clear No. 1 has yet to stand out. At least publicly.

Kicker? The Broncos have a returning specialist who has never made a college field goal, and a couple of curious new faces. So who’s The Guy? Don’t know yet.

Harsin met with the media after Friday’s closed scrimmage, and while the focus shines on the quarterback race, and our angst to find an answer, it’s clear that competition rages all over this program as the clock continues to tick.

Translation: A lot of work to be done in a short period of time.

“We’re talking quarterbacks, but really with our other positions, too, you’ve got competitions going at other positions, so it’s no different there,’’ Harsin said. “We still got to figure out this is where we’re going at all these positions. Quarterback’s obviously the big one everybody wants to know about.’’

We all want answers — coaches, fans, media.

The waiting game is frustrating for those of us with limited patience, especially when key scoring positions are involved.

Fall camp is to find answers, and in many cases, we’re still looking. And waiting.

The quarterback race appeared to favor Chase Cord before the scrimmage, then Harsin hinted that it tightened up over those two hours. Hank Bachmeier could be charging, and Jaylon Henderson is lurking.

Harsin could make a decision this week.

Or next, he said.

Concerned?

Or competition?

There are decisions to be made at running back, too, with Robert Mahone and Andrew Van Buren the top contenders. Newcomer George Holani has worked with the No. 1 offense this fall, and Harsin keeps throwing out Keegan Duncan and Danny Smith as names who continue to show promise.

But no decisions.

Then there’s the kicker — the red-headed stepchild of the Boise State program. So much angst in the past. So many special teams question marks from last season. So much emphasis and change in the offseason.

And now — 13 days before Florida State — coaches continue to work with three kickers, hoping to find Mr. Consistent.

Joel Velazquez has been the punter and kickoff specialist, but could become the kicker this year.

Gavin Wale is the true freshman phenom from Nevada who can kick and punt.

And now meet Eric Sachse, a graduate transfer who made 29-of-36 field goals at Division III Trinity College in Connecticut. He, apparently, has made a significant impact during his short time in Boise.

Harsin said he “kicked well’’ in Friday’s scrimmage, his second straight solid scrimmage with the Broncos.

Like a grade-school class, Boise State holds storytime every fall camp, where new players introduce themselves to veteran players. Sachse called himself a “rental car’’ during his storytime — and his demeanor clicked with the team.

“He’s fun to be around, he’s got a good personality, and he also executes when he’s on the field,’’ Harsin said. “He loves to compete. … To me, I enjoy being around guys like that. They’re coachable, they can coach themselves up, he’s certainly got the experience, he’s been through this, and it’s kind of nice to be around that.’’

Harsin said Velazquez and Sachse have been going “back and forth’’ with Wale getting in a few kicks.

But no decision yet on the one position that will lead the team in scoring this season.

Harsin, who wants players to rise and separate, obviously wants his starters set in the next few days. The following week is full-on Florida State prep.

“Guys have worked hard up to this point, but we’re not there, and I really mean that,’’ Harsin said, specifically pointing out a lack of consistency. “What are we going to do over these next two weeks to prepare ourselves?’’

Typical camp coachspeak — but Harsin has an answer for that, too.

“I would say it’s typical, but, again, the expectation is greater right now.’’

Florida State looms and a potential New Year’s Six bowl season awaits. But not before season-defining decisions are made at quarterback, running back and kicker.

Cause for concern?

Or thriving with competition?

Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Bronco Game Night after every Boise State football game on KTIK and KBOI 670 AM. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at mikefprater@gmail.com.

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