Harsin takes hands-on approach as Boise State football opens spring ball

By Chadd Cripe
© 2014 Idaho Statesman

First-year Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin took a hands-on approach as he began his first spring ball as the Broncos’ head coach Monday in the Caven-Williams Sports Complex.

Harsin was right in the middle of the offense during the installation period at the beginning of practice, when the group goes through the motions of many of the plays it will run that day. And during the first official practice period, Harsin ran quarterback drills while offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford worked with the holders. Sanford was a holder during his college career.

Harsin, who was the playcaller for the first half of the season last year at Arkansas State and a coordinator for seven years before that, said at his introductory press conference that he would stay involved with the quarterbacks.

(Here is our photo gallery from practice.)

“I love coaching the quarterback,” he said. “That’s the position I gravitate toward. I’ve spent time developing a process for that position.”

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Former coach Chris Petersen, also a former offensive coordinator, became less hands-on with the offense late in his eight-year tenure. He did most of his hands-on coaching with the special teams.

During the open portion of practice, the Broncos went through their installation, ran plays that were stopped after the first couple of seconds, stretched and did 10 minutes of basic, first-day drills. The quarterbacks even worked on tackling.

Junior Marcus Henry, the only returning starter on the offensive line who is practicing this spring, was at center. He played right guard last year but the Broncos lost two-year starting center Matt Paradis and backup Spencer Gerke.

The practice didn’t look much different than practices under Chris Petersen. There was a lot of energy, as you’d expect on the first day. Players seemed locked into the plays they were running but not quite as sure of what was expected in the drills their new position coaches had devised.

One minor change: the quarterbacks’ no-contact jerseys are now blue instead of red.


Defensive end Darien Barrett, a redshirt sophomore, has left the Boise State football program. That leaves just six defensive ends in spring ball with three signees on the way. The six: redshirt senior Beau Martin, redshirt freshman Austin Silsby, redshirt sophomore Sam McCaskill, sophomore Gabe Perez, sophomore Kamalei Correa and redshirt freshman Mat Boesen.


Highlights from senior quarterback Grant Hedrick’s Q&A with the media:

— On first day with new coaches: “You just want to have a good first impression. It kind of was like the first day they’ve seen us play, so guys want to go out there and do the best they can and play well, so obviously there was a little bit of an edge to everybody.”

— On the offense: “It’s a lot of what we did when coach Harsin was first here and what Stanford did a little bit. It’s just a mixture, and then what we’ve done the last couple years. So really, not a lot different terminology-wise, which is nice. … I’m not exactly sure what they’ve got in mind. It’s going to be lots of shifts and motions and we can go fast at times, too, but it’s not going to be no-huddle, go fast all the time.”

— On the bowl loss: “It kind of makes you hungry. We were so close to having that game go in a different direction. We’ve kind of got to forget about that, but it does motivate you in the offseason.”

— On Sanford: “I like him a lot. He really knows what’s going on. He’s so smart and he relates well. Being a younger guy, he relates really well to us.”

— On his spring priorities: “Taking care of the football is probably No. 1. Two is the leadership role. I need to be a big leader to this team. And just have fun and believe in what we’re doing.”

Highlights from special teams/running backs coach Kent Riddle:

— On the first day: “It was awesome to get back out there and practice. … We’ve put a lot of hard work in just to get to this one, so it’s nice to be able to get to the point.”

— More on first day: “Everybody’s trying to prove themselves, trying to feel their way around a little bit, see what everybody’s looking for. I think we got a pretty good handle on that in the offseason, so today was really about trying to dial in the details and the execution and try to improve that from where we started today.”

— On spring ball: “It’s a good chance for us to evaluate our schemes, our personnel, so when we get to fall we’re ready to roll.”

Highlights from sophomore linebacker Tanner Vallejo:

— On the coaching change in his first year: “A whirlwind, but it’s all for the better. We’re taking the next ride. The goal is to win the Mountain West championship, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

— On going from possible redshirt to starter last season: “It was cool with me. I was happy.”

— On the first day: “Just a different intensity.”


We’ll hold a live chat at 10 a.m. Tuesday. You can sign up for a reminder below:



Monday’s newspaper: Spring preview, including players and positions to watch
Saturday: Marcel Yates on the defense.
Friday: Mike Sanford on the offense.
Thursday: Bryan Harsin’s spring press conference.

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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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