Boise State held their second, and penultimate spring scrimmage last night ahead of this weekend’s annual Spring Game and besides being blown around by gale force winds, I was able to glean a few things...not the least of which being “don’t take too much stock in things learned at spring scrimmages”. Here’s a primer.
- Walking wounded. A LOT of no shows or at least “no plays” at the scrimmage and this is largely by design. Jordan Happle, Evan Tyler, Durrant Miles, Sam Whitney, and Alexander Mattison are just a few of the guys with the DNP tag on for spring, or at least the more contact-y portions. You could still find these guys hooting and hollering at teammates and helping coach up the young guys. None were currently in traction, so that’s a good thing, I guess.
- This secondary is GOOD. Not just good but deep. I watched Avery Williams and Jermani Brown snag interceptions and Kekaula Kaniho and Jalen Walker register pass break ups...then I watched guys like Deandre Pierce and frosh Tyreque Jones laying the wood. After the scrimmage, Coach Harsin said that on Friday night, the defense caused 8 turnovers, and Kekoa Nawahine accounted for 3 or 4 of those. The defense is always ahead of the offense in the spring, but Boise State lost very, very little from their 2017 defensive two-deep and are breaking in some guys that can flat play.
- The defense is NASTY. Not “unwashed protein shaker cup” nasty...the good kind. This is a tight-knit group and one that has a definite chip on their collective shoulders. Who knows why...they were pretty darn good last year too, but they seem to have something to prove in 2018 and are bringing an edge to the field (and sidelines). Several 2017 stalwarts did not participate, but guys like Jabril Frazier, Matt Locher, Curtis Weaver, and Benton Wickersham are already rounding into form. The group is always making noise (literally) and made things very difficult for the offense—considering they may be the best defensive unit Boise State plays in 2018, that could be okay, actually.
- Octavius Evans could be primed for a big leap. Walk-ons Justin Collins and Christian Blaser both registered long TD grabs with the 2nd and 3rd team offenses, but Octavius Evans sure looked like the guy that’s going to give opposing secondaries fits. He had a toe tap TD grab at the back of the end zone in tight coverage and just looks more imposing than the other wideouts. Some bigger bodies will arrive this fall, but Evans will have the playbook edge on the newcomers.
- Thin stable. Reinforcements will be arriving in the fall, but spring camp is running with a thin running back stable—and that’s probably a good thing. Projected starter Alexander Mattison is limited this spring, and of course Ryan Wolpin got his diploma and has moved on to greener pastures, leaving Robert Mahone, Drake Beasley, and converted-safety Skyler Seibold as the main dudes. All accounts are that Mahone has been responding well to the extra reps and Coach Harsin said that Drake Beasley (who hasn’t played in a football game now for two years) will definitely be getting his carries in 2018. Once Mattison is back and the newbloods arrive this summer, the stable will once again be fat and sassy.
- Scary ends. After the scrimmage, Brett Rypien said that Jabril Frazier has been “scary” this spring and thinks the prized recruit is in for a big senior season. Frazier has always shown flashes of dominance, and his 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 pass break ups a season ago certainly weren’t cause for concern, but there have been nagging injuries here and there and he maybe wasn’t as dominant as he could have been. If Rypien is prescient, opposing QBs should be sweating at the notion of Frazier and freshman All-American Curtis Weaver as the book ends.
- Wind-aided. Yeah...it was windy, but Joel Velazquez was mere inches from nailing a 62-yard field goal at yesterday’s scrimmage. It didn’t bounce of the crossbar either...we’re talking four feet up the upright. On a less gusty day, I’m not so sure that Harsin would call 60+ yards “field goal range”, but it was fun to watch nonetheless.
My phone decided it was out of memory during Coach Harsin’s post-scrimmage spiel, so here’s the head man laying it out via the steady hand of Dave Southorn.