By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State football coach Chris Petersen tells young players that they’ll find success on the field if they push themselves in the weight room and the classroom.
Sophomore cornerback Bryan Douglas, a surprise starter in the season opener, has embraced that idea — and become a believer.
“Coach Pete says our guys that are doing good in academics are our best guys on the field, and it’s true,” Douglas said. “… I want to be one of those guys.”
Petersen dangled an extra carrot in front of Douglas this year. Douglas didn’t like the number he was assigned as a freshman — No. 46. Petersen told him if he dedicated himself in the strength and conditioning program and academically he would find him a new number.
“I’ve been proud of him this last year, and really in all three phases,” Petersen said. “Probably my biggest pet peeve was academics. I thought he was underachieving of what he was capable of. He’s really stepped up.”
Said Douglas: “I’ve taken a big step. I’m taking school much more seriously now.”
Douglas’ reward: the No. 1 jersey, one Petersen doesn’t give out easily. Previous owners include wide receiver Titus Young, cornerback Kyle Wilson and wide receiver Jerard Rabb.
Douglas actually wanted No. 7 (his high school number), but that has been owned by veterans since he joined the team.
“I was very surprised,” Douglas said. “When he told me I was getting No. 1, my heart dropped actually. I looked around like, ‘You sure you’re talking to me?’ It’s an honor to wear that number.”
Douglas started one game, at San Diego State, last year. He split time with senior returning starter Jerrell Gavins in this year’s opener at Michigan State and got the start.
Douglas finished with five tackles and a forced fumble. He wasn’t expecting to play so much in a secondary that features Gavins and another senior returning starter, Jamar Taylor.
“When you’re playing with two guys like that, you have no choice but to play up to their level,” he said. “They’ve been a great influence. Ever since I’ve been here, they’ve taken me under their wing. I’m kind of like their little brother. I’m just trying to latch onto them before they get out of here.”
Miami (Ohio) visits Bronco Stadium on Saturday and boasts one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks.
Senior Zac Dysert ranks second among active players in pass attempts (1,281), second in completions (823), second in completions per game (22.9), third in completion percentage (64.3), third in passing yards (9,059), third in passing yards per game (251.6) and fourth in TD passes (50). He’s also second in interceptions (41), which includes two thrown in Bronco Stadium in mop-up duty in 2009.
“This will be one of the top quarterbacks we see this year — that’s how good I think this guy is,” Petersen said. “… He’s just one of those guys that’s got ‘it.’ ”
Dysert is 6-foot-4, 219 pounds — and the Broncos say he’s a scrambler who’s difficult to tackle.
“You think you’ve got him down and … the next thing you know he throws it over your head,” Taylor said.
The RedHawks are 1-1. They lost 56-10 at Ohio State and won 30-14 against Southern Illinois.
Dysert was 31-of-53 for 303 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions against Ohio State. He was 28-of-36 for 226 yards and a touchdown against Southern Illinois.
He was 2-for-4 for 1 yard with two interceptions in his college debut in that 2009 game at Boise State, a 48-0 loss. He became the starter a couple weeks later.
Boise State has surpassed last year's record for season-ticket sales with more than 24,000, the school announced Tuesday.
Tickets remain for all games, but only singles are available for BYU.