By Chadd Cripe
The Boise State offense moved the ball consistently and the defense stiffened near the goal line Saturday afternoon at Bronco Stadium in the team’s first scrimmage of fall camp.
The first-team offense drove inside the 10-yard line on all three of its possessions, all under the leadership of senior quarterback Taylor Tharp. The results: a fumble by Tanyon “Slash” Bissell at the goal line, a 1-yard touchdown sneak by Tharp and a missed field goal.
In all, the first-team offense ran 36 plays covering 199 yards.
The first-team defense stopped two of those drives in the end zone and stuffed star tailback Ian Johnson on three straight run plays inside the 2-yard line before Tharp sneaked across the goal line.
“There were flashes of good football,” coach Chris Petersen said. “You can tell we’re making progress. You can tell we’re going to have some good players in some areas we’re concerned about. If we can improve a bunch from right now till next week when we scrimmage, I’ll feel good about things.”
The Broncos’ next scrimmage is at 7 p.m. Friday at Bronco Stadium. Petersen hopes for a big crowd to create a game-like atmosphere for his young impact players.
About 2,000 fans showed up Saturday, though many left early on a scorching afternoon.
Tharp seized an opportunity created by the absence of junior Bush Hamdan (sore hand), who is his primary competition for the starting job. Tharp was 7-of-13 for 116 yards.
Sophomore Nick Lomax was 8-of-13 for 93 yards, while redshirt freshman Mike Coughlin was just 5-of-16 for 71 yards with an interception. True freshman Kellen Moore looked good in his public debut, completing 5-of-8 passes for 71 yards against the third-team defense.
The most exciting freshman on the field, though, was wide receiver Titus Young — one of at least four freshmen on the bubble between redshirting and playing this year.
Young made five catches for 67 yards and rushed twice for 12 yards.
“I believe I am a playmaker,” Young said, “but it’s up to the coaches to decide if they want me to make plays for them this year. If that’s the case, then I’m here for them.”
Young stayed awake until 2 a.m. Saturday studying his playbook to prepare for the scrimmage, even forcing roommate Antwon Murray — a cornerback — to quiz him.
Young fell asleep with the playbook in his hand, he said. He can look forward to more sleepless nights if he plays this year.
“We’re still trying to figure his situation out,” Petersen said. “It’s fun to figure a guy like that out because there’s a lot of potential in him and there’s going to be a lot of football in front of him. It’s just when and where, that’s what we’re trying to figure out in the next week or so.”
Johnson generated 80 total yards, including a 42-yard reception and seven carries on the first eight plays of the scrimmage. True freshman tailbacks Doug Martin (seven carries for 40 yards) and D.J. Harper (9-37) also were productive.
Sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Childs added three catches for 46 yards.
True freshman defensive end Jarrell Root of Capital High contributed two sacks. Redshirt freshman end Ryan Winterswyk made one of the biggest plays of the scrimmage when he sacked Tharp on second-and-goal at the 2, forcing the missed field goal.
-- Kickers Kyle Brotzman and Brock Jaramillo struggled. Brotzman was 3-for-5, while Jaramillo was 2-for-4. Jaramillo hit an upright twice — one kick was good, the other missed.
-- Several key players did not participate, including wide receiver Toshi Franklin, safety Marty Tadman, offensive lineman Pete Cavender and defensive end Mike T. Williams. The first three have nagging injuries. Williams is on a personal leave and should return this week.