Boise State may have won big in their latest contest against the Idaho State Bengals, but they also lost when starting quarterback Ryan Finley went down with an ankle injury. Head coach Bryan Harsin made the announcement Sunday afternoon, stating that Finley had broken a bone in his right ankle after it twisted awkwardly while being brought down in the first quarter. He is set to miss at least eight weeks.
The obvious question that forced itself into the conversation is who would step in and replace Finley heading into Friday's contest with the University of Virginia. Harsin announced on Monday that they are going to go with a dual-quarterback scheme between redshirt sophomore Thomas Stuart and true Freshman Brett Rypien. Both made their debut after Finley went down. Stuart was Finley's successor after heading to the locker room and did quite well. His first drive ended in a touchdown run by running back Devan Demas. He finished the game 9-for-13 for 69 yards and a touchdown while also being a threat to run going for 46 yards on 11 carries.
Rypien also shined in his debut where his only incompletion was a ball thrown out of bounds after a play broke down. Other than this incompletion, he was a perfect 8-for-8 for 126 yards. He got to showcase his big and accurate arm when he completed a pass of 46 yards to wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck. Rypien managed the offense on four separate drives, scoring on all of them (three touchdowns and one field goal).
Harsin had this to say about his decision to go with the two quarterbacks (via Idaho Statesman):
"I did like the combination of Tommy and Ryp," Harsin said. "What type of packages we put together this week and how much each one is going to have an opportunity to go in there and run it, that’s still a work in progress. ... I feel good about the quarterback position."
Harsin has good reason to like the state of his quarterback position. Whereas most teams fear their starting quarterback being taken away due to injury, the Broncos appear to have good depth after Friday's showing against the Bengals. Both Stuart and Rypien operated under a sense of calm and poise, never seeming to be in a state of duress. Stuart brings a dual threat in his ability to both throw and run the ball. Rypien on the other hand has a big and accurate arm. This combination of talent should provide for an intriguing offensive showing.
The Broncos will head east to face Virginia next, which will prove to be a very hostile environment for these two very inexperienced quarterbacks. The good news for Rypien, Stuart, and the rest of the Broncos is the Cavaliers currently rank 105th in the FBS for total defense, while ranking similarly at 104th in passing yards allowed (784). If these two can find a way to tame the nerves and fight off the adversity of their first big game, the Cavaliers defense may provide a way for them to shine once again.
Boise State kicks off against the Cavaliers at 6:00 p.m. MT on Friday September 25th.