BY MIKE PRATER
IDAHO PRESS & BLUE TURF SPORTS
What do we think of Hank Bachmeier, so far?
He’s no Jeff Schmedding, the new king of defense at Boise State, but the kid seems to be doing OK as the Broncos’ newest football star.
Boise State’s defensive coordinator is dominating halftime speeches and winning games, while the true freshman quarterback on the other side of the ball is winning the hearts of college football.
Kirk Herbstreit can’t stop talking about Bachmeier — and six of the next eight games are on ESPN channels.
Accolades are everywhere on social media, where you can find multiple nicknames and fan pages.
And Bronco Nation is salivating over the thought of a three- to four-year superstar who could be another game changer for a program that always seems to find its next quarterback.
Bachmeier has been signing autographs and posing with fans for three consecutive weekends, including the Fan Fest last month where he made his debut as the starting quarterback.
He was the last player off the field after the Florida State victory.
The student section was maxed out Friday night during the Broncos’ 14-7 win over Marshall. Why? It’s not always like that. Bachmaier seems to be relatable, likeable — maybe students wanted to check out their newest best friend on campus. And in typical Bachmeier fashion, he rewarded the late-staying students with a long string of postgame high-fives.
On the field, he’s undefeated after two games, and about to hit 3-0 next weekend against Portland State. He’ll lose one day, but in the meantime, head coach Bryan Harsin has called his difference-maker “tough, competitive.’’
Exactly what you want in a quarterback.
But let’s think about that for a minute.
Bachmeier definitely has warts. Not everything is rosy perfect like the record.
Bachmeier — trying to be tough and competitive — holds onto the ball too long. He hasn’t fully developed the third eye in the back of his head.
He’s been sacked an alarming eight times. His protectors don’t seem to like him sometimes. He loses his helmet more than most of us lose our keys.
He tends to throw high at times. He’s tossed two interceptions. Decision making needs some fine tuning. The offense has reached the redzone 12 times, and has produced only four touchdowns.
Exciting, at all times. Frustrating, sometimes.
I compare the 6-foot-1, 202-pound Bachmeier to 6-3, 203-pound BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, who started for the Cougars last season as a true freshman.
They have similar skill sets, and are part of a wave of true freshmen quarterbacks who are suddenly the rage in college football.
They share similar stats, based on their first two college starts:
Bachmeier (2019): 52 of 85 (61.2 percent), two TDs, two interceptions, 689 yards, one rushing TD, eight sacks.
Wilson (2018): 34 of 54 (62.9 percent), three TDs, two INTs, 402 yards, one rushing TD, eight sacks.
Both are sometimes sloppy with the ball, tough and competitive, reckless with their bodies, and face potential college careers of too much pain and torture.
Wilson, a former Boise State recruit who played two games on The Blue last year (at Boise State, at Famous Idaho Potato Bowl), had shoulder surgery in the offseason.
Boise State, which plays at BYU on Oct. 19, certainly doesn’t want that to happen to Bachmeier, though it could be inevitable based on the way he plays.
Bachmeier will play exciting football.
He will take risks … and win games.
He will take risks … and miss games.
That’s what concerns Bronco Nation the most.
Everything else, the football nit-picking stuff, is easily correctable through coaching and experience.
Imagine Bachmeier becoming the next Kellen Moore.
And, while we’re at it, imagine Schmedding becoming the next Andy Avalos.
No doubt, Bachmeier and Schmedding are the early MVPs of Boise State’s season.
Schmedding’s defense has given up 598 yards and 38 points through two games and two spectacular second halves. Bachmeier, through running and passing, is responsible for 702 yards and 18 points.
Here’s something else to think about: Bachmeier started classes at Boise State on Jan. 14. Four days later, on Jan. 18, the Broncos announced the hiring of Schmedding from Eastern Washington.
As Boise State progresses through this season, and as success continues to build with each win, think hard about that otherwise quiet, innocent week when the Broncos added two new names to their family in January.
Now think about what Bachmeier and Schmedding mean to the program in September.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.