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Boise State Quarterbacks: Who Will Start in 2019?

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We look into the crystal ball and make our predictions for 2019

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Spring football has concluded, and those who were looking for clarity on Boise State’s quarterback situation were left disappointed. One thing is for certain; a new quarterback will take the field against Florida State in Jacksonville on August 31st. Jeremy and myself have followed the quarterback situation closely all spring, and we analyzed each quarterback and their chances of starting. When analyzing, we decided to go with who we think starts the majority of the games. Out of fairness, we are going to go by seniority.

Jaylon Henderson

Zach: Honestly, I gave Henderson a zero percent chance of starting heading into spring ball. After watching the game, I left feeling like he could be a serviceable backup. However, I would not be surprised if Henderson takes the first snap against Florida State. With that being said, he does not have the arm strength or velocity of other quarterbacks on the roster, but he does have a grasp of the system. That counts for something.

Jeremy: Henderson entered spring without much fanfare. He’s the oldest player on the roster, and as is natural with quarterback battles, the 5th year senior is unlikely to be the favorite among fans to start. Everyone wants a long term starter, not a Band-Aid. That said, Jaylon Henderson is not playing to script. Is he talented enough to be the every week starter? I’m not sure, but I think combined with Bachmeier’s youth and Cord’s injury status, Henderson might be a sneaky option to get the first snap vs. Florida State.

Chances of starting

Zach: After spring ball, I decided to bump Henderson up a little bit. Maybe the coaches will decide they want to get another year under the younger guys belts and open up the competition next spring. I’m going to give Henderson a 20% chance of starting.

Jeremy: I’ll also give him a 20% chance. Due to the circumstances surrounding the other quarterbacks, Jaylon might start a game or two or three, but I’d be a little surprised if Henderson is the every game starter of 2019.

Chase Cord

Zach: Jeremy can attest to this; I have been a Chase Cord believer for a long time. The coaches’ confidence in Cord was evident in the San Diego State game. While his performance in that contest wasn’t great, he did take critical snaps. I have heard enough about Cord to know that he exudes confidence and has a strong understanding of the system. While he didn’t take snaps in the spring game, he was jogging, and his throws in warm-ups had nice velocity. The one hold up? ACLs take time to rehab and Cord has torn his twice.

Jeremy: Cord’s assessment is simple: he has the best balance of experience, arm talent, and running ability of all the quarterbacks. He would easily be the runaway favorite for the job if it were not for his ACL injury rehab. Now, positive signs have been seen by viewers, as evidenced by his surprising participation in drills during practice, and onlookers even witnessing him jogging to practice. He might be further along than expected. If Cord is full go come August, he’s a strong favorite to start.

Chances of starting

Zach: After seeing Cord at the spring game, I left feeling like he was the leader of that unit. He looked confident in warm-ups and was signalling plays on the sideline. I still think Cord gives the Broncos the best chance to win. I’m going to give him a 50% chance to start.

Jeremy: I will echo Zach’s projection at 50%. It’s 100% about Cord’s injury status. Two ACL tears in the last three years is bad news. If Cord isn’t full go by August, it’s hard to see the staff favoring a hobbled player heading into the season. On the flip side, if he is full go, again...he has the best combination of talent and experience on the roster. I’ll get off the fence and say that after hearing about Cord’s surprising participation in camp, he’ll be the opening day starter.

Riley Smith

Zach: Smith might be the most perplexing quarterback on the roster. During the spring game, I was surprised by his mobility and arm strength. But, he was the most inaccurate quarterback on the field. With another year or two of development, I think Smith can be a very good quarterback. However, considering how the classes line up, I’m not sure he will get that chance at Boise State.

Jeremy: Smith somewhat encompasses the profile of what Kellen Moore fans have hated for years: physically unquestionable upside, but lacks the polished game to back it up. The spring game seemed to confirm that. Big dude, strong arm, but inconsistent thrower. He has room for upside the other quarterbacks don’t, but how often is that vast upside actually fulfilled?

Chances of starting

Zach: This isn’t a knock on Smith, I think he can be a very good quarterback, but he needs some time to develop. I’m not sure that can happen in Boise. However, there is a lot that can change in four months, so I am still giving him a 5% chance of starting.

Jeremy: Smith’s enemy is time. With time and development, I think he could evolve into a great player. That luxury, time, will not be afforded to him this go around. I’ll once again echo Zach’s sentiments and throw 5% Smith’s way for upside alone.

Zach Matlock

Zach: I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one. Matlock performed better than expected in the spring game, but he played in only one series. That probably tells us what we need to know about his chances of playing.

Jeremy: Rudy is a great college football movie, but Rudy made a sack at the end of a blowout win. He didn’t start for Notre Dame. Matlock will be a worthy member of the quarterback room, but considering the level Bryan Harsin has Boise State recruiting at, of course a walk-on quarterback starting is a long shot.

Chances of starting

Zach: 0%

Jeremy: 0%

Hank Bachmeier

Zach: All eyes were on #19 in the scrimmage. Bachmeier has been looked at as the next great Bronco by many Boise State fans. While watching Hank warm-up, I was impressed by his arm strength and velocity. Hank probably had the toughest task of any of the quarterbacks. He played the majority of the scrimmage against the first team defense and had the second team offensive line protecting him. I found it interesting that the coaches paired him with John Hightower, CT Thomas, and Andrew Van Buren; all three of those guys are expected to start this fall. Bachmeier did not have much time to throw the ball, so I would not read too much into his performance in one scrimmage.

Jeremy: It was unusual for Bryan Harsin to be as openly impressed with Bachmeier as he was early on in spring, even noting that Hank had received the bulk of the first team snaps. The 1A to Henderson’s 1B. The positive comments spread throughout college football outlets, even some noting Bachmeier might be the favorite for the job. It is this that led me to be skeptical of the spring game layout. Bachmeier undeniably played against the first-team defense more than any other quarterback on the team in the spring game. It was as if the coaching staff was intentionally hiding him. Hank played the spring game on All-Madden difficulty whereas the others were on Pro at best.

Chances of starting

Zach: I think Bachmeier is the second best quarterback on the roster and has the ability to pass Cord. But, he is fresh out of high school and may need some time to familiarize himself with the system and the pressures of college football. It’s going to be interesting to see how much he develops this summer. I’m giving him a 25% chance of starting.

Jeremy: I think Hank has the highest upside of any of the quarterbacks on this team, and the best arm. The timing of all of this isn’t ideal. Fans forget, Brett Rypien did not win the job as a true freshman in 2015. Ryan Finley did, and they proceeded to get hurt, enabling Rypien’s rise. I’m not sure if such a thing will happen again. Can Hank this job outright? I’ll give him a 25% chance.

Kaiden Bennett

Zach: Bennett’s skill set is very intriguing. He could be a huge asset to this offense if he sticks it out. He throws a better than expected ball and has top end speed. He would be an elite quarterback prospect for most Mountain West schools. However, he is still very raw and needs some time in the system. In the future, I could see him as a wildcat quarterback.

Jeremy: The dark horse. Bennett has a surprisingly good high school resume for being the “other” quarterback recruit enrolling early. He has the potential to be a real threat, but his constant running in the spring game suggests he isn’t totally comfortable with the offense just yet. Like Smith, Bennett can play but needs time to develop.

Chances of starting

Zach: Bennett is super talented, but he needs to redshirt this year. This has zero to do with Bennett’s skill level and more to do with a loaded quarterback room. I can’t see any scenario where he starts next year.

Jeremy: Bennett is a long shot to start, but he’s quick enough to carve out another role eventually. Will he settle for that is the real question.

Final Verdict

Zach: There are a lot of possible scenarios to weigh, but the best thing that can happen to Boise State is Chase Cord entering fall camp 100% and taking the first snaps in Florida. If he isn’t, I think Henderson will start that game, and Bachmeier will start the majority of the season. The best scenario might be a two quarterback system; I like the idea of the quarterback race going into the season and letting Cord and Bachmeier share snaps. Outside of the Florida State game, the Broncos have a manageable schedule early in the season and a defense that might be able to overcome some offensive struggles. Let’s see what these guys can do in a real game. In other words, I don’t think the coaches will decide on a true starter.

Jeremy: Look no further than the most recent Boise State quarterback battle, the 2015 battle, to illustrate that “who will win the starting job?” is a complicated question. Considering the terrifying task of the Florida State defense in the opener, starting a freshman seems unlikely. But what if Cord or Henderson are awful against Florida State? What if they pull a 2012 Southwick vs. Michigan State? Do they get a mulligan, or is that the misstep the staff needed to go with Bachmeier? Can Cord stay healthy over the course of a season? Or is the answer nobody and we see a dual-quarterback system most of the year like the 2017 Rypien-Cozart dynamic? So many possibilities. I’ll get off the fence and make a bold prediction that is surely to be wrong. Cord starts at Florida State with Henderson mixed in. Neither are effective, but that dynamic continues for a few games. Sometime in October, Cord’s playing style leads into another injury that forces him to the sideline, even if only for a game or two. Bachmeier steps in and doesn’t look back. Considering none of us can see the future, my guess is as good as any. What’s yours?

Our spring predictions are now set in stone. What do you guys think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.