On a night that saw four different quarterbacks utilized, the Boise State Broncos still managed to collect 598 yards of total offense, 344 of which came on the ground, as they cruised to a 52-0 drubbing of inner-state rival Idaho State.
Quarterback Ryan Finley went down in the first quarter after his right ankle twisted awkwardly while being brought down on a five yard run. He never returned to the game. Coach Bryan Harsin was not immediately aware of a diagnosis, but it doesn't sound good:
Harsin: Don’t know the status of Finley yet. I know he couldn’t come back in the game. Will know more on Sunday.— BlueTurfSports.com (@BlueTurfSports) September 19, 2015
#BoiseState OC Eliah Drinkwitz said he shared a tear w/ Ryan Finley after the game. Drink added he wants to excited about the W but cant be.— Jay Tust (@KTVBSportsGuy) September 19, 2015
Those standing behind as Finley's backups made sure to make the sudden transition nearly seamless. Redshirt sophomore Thomas Stuart promptly stepped in and went 2-for-3 for 13 yards while also running the ball three times for 37 yards on the same drive Finley was injured on, which resulted in a touchdown by Devan Demas from 13 yards out. Stuart was very calm and collected the whole way, finishing his night 9-for-13 for 69 yards and a touchdown. He also managed to gather up 46 yards on 11 carries.
Perhaps the biggest moment of the night for Bronco fans was the debut of the highly-touted, true freshman quarterback Brett Rypien. Rypien is the nephew of former Super Bowl XXVII MVP Mark Rypien. He was a four-star recruit out of Spokane, Washington where he actually shares a state record for passing touchdowns in one game (8) with former Bronco legend Kellen Moore.
Once the score had been run up to 35-0 in the third quarter, Harsin called Rypien's number and sent him into the huddle. Rypien embraced his opportunity and wound up looking like a kid who had already been on campus for a couple years by going 8-for-9 for 126 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown, but most importantly he didn't turn the ball over. He went through his progressions with patience, anticipated his receiver's routes well while also showing smarts by throwing the ball away (his only incompletion) on a broken play.
The realist would say pump the breaks on the hype-train with Rypien due to a small sample size that could very well have been inflated by a clearly over-matched defense. However, Rypien did exactly what one would expect a talented quarterback to do against a team like the Bengals. Fans should be excited and if Finley is out, Harsin should have a tough decision to make at quarterback heading into next weekend.
While plenty of headlines were made at the quarterback position, the night belonged mainly to running back Jeremy McNichols and the rest of the run game. McNichols finished his night with 69 yards on 15 carries to go along with three touchdowns. Kelsey Young also found two scores on 38 yards rushing. Young, along with Cory Young and Devan Demas combined to go for 182 yards on 20 carries. All night long it felt like the Boise State rushing attack started at the top of a very steep incline and tumbled downhill with ease, chewing up yards at will against a very tired Bengals defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals could never get anything flowing offensively. Quarterback Michael Sanders couldn't handle the nerves of playing on the blue and was constantly missing targets for the majority of the night. He finished 21-for-42 for only 169 yards (only 4 yards per completion) before Tanner Gueller replaced him in the third quarter.
Wide receiver Madison Mangum, brother of BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, still managed to haul in seven catches for 98 yards.
After two very high profile games to start the season, the Broncos were able to return home and hit the reset button. They won in the fashion that many expected them to, which should boost their confidence and help them move on from last Friday's heartbreaking loss against BYU. Next Friday they head way out east to face a Virginia team that had Notre Dame on their heels all the way to the very end. With Finley's status uncertain, Harsin faces a tough decision on who gets the nod under center when they kickoff against the Cavaliers.
Based on tonight's showing though, the depth at quarterback suggests that this problem of Harsin's is a good one to have.