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Photo via Pam Davis

Boise State being led by McNichols, strong D through six games

It’s been a crazy week in college football. The man that Chris Petersen replaced at Washington, Steve Sarkisian, was fired from USC. The ol’ ball coach himself, Steve Spurrier, resigned from his post at South Carolina after posting a 2-4 record to start the year. And in Florida, the eighth-ranked Gators will be without starting quarterback Will Grier, who was suspended for a year for a positive test for PED use.

Meanwhile, back in Boise, the Broncos (5-1, 2-0) are quietly going about business in preparation for Friday’s key Mountain West match-up  with the Utah State Aggies.

This being the halfway point of the season, I decided to write this column as the first annual (possibly last) mid season awards spectacular.

Let’s not waste anymore time and cut to the chase.

Offensive MVP: Jeremy McNichols

McNichols has been the most consistent player on the offensive side of the ball this season, hence his selection for this award. He is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games and is a threat to catch the ball as well as run it. Oh, yeah, he also leads the FBS in total touchdowns with 14. Not too shabby for a player that hasn’t even played 20 career college games.

McNichols was banged up towards the end of the Colorado State game and didn’t return after scoring his second touchdown of the night. His status for the Utah St. game is up in the air and his presence will no doubt be missed if he is unable to suit up.

Co-Defensive MVP’s: Donte Deayon and Darian Thompson

The two seniors are having a year to remember. They anchor a secondary that is making it virtually impossible for opposing quarterbacks to throw the ball downfield this year. (I say virtually because of those lapses the secondary has had on a few plays. I digress.)

Deayon has picked off four passes this year and has often been tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s best receiver.

Thompson also has four interceptions and now has 18 for his career, tying him with former Utah Ute Eric Weddle for most all-time in the Mountain West. Thompson has also been great in run support.

Boise State is tied for first in the FBS with 13 interceptions. The other players have responded to Deayon’s and Thompson’s leadership and experience, making it tough for other teams to pass on Boise State.

The Unsung Hero: Tyler Rausa

In the world of football, the kicker is often never mentioned when he’s doing good. It’s expected of him to come out to the field and do his one job of kicking extra points and field goals. It’s normally only when the kicker fails in a big moment that all the attention comes pouring down on him.

Perhaps Tyler Rausa prefers the anonymity and just wants to go about his duties. And that’s fine. It’s not often, though, that a kicker from Boise State is seen regularly attempting 50-yard field goals. (He made one from 51 yards; missed wide on a 55-yard attempt but it had the distance).

Rausa, a junior, began the year with an extra point being blocked in the Washington game but has since connected on all 29 attempts. And he’s 11 for 13 on field goal attempts, with those only two misses occurring from over 50 yards.

Rausa has by no means cemented his legacy but he should be lauded for doing his job and doing it well.

You Shall not Pass Award: The Run D

At times this year, it seems like the Boise State defense has 15 players on the field at once. The opposition’s running backs and quarterbacks have found very little room to run against the Broncos this year.

Colorado State was able to run for over 100 yards against Boise State but they did so averaging less than three yards per carry. Even with the performance by the Rams, Boise State is still second in the nation, holding opponents to 60.7 rushing yards per game and 2 yards per attempt.

The Wide Receiver Pass

This play has long been a staple of the Boise State playbook (See: 2007 Fiesta Bowl).

Thomas Sperbeck has been the main receiver to be used in this spot. The former quarterback is 1-3 on the year, with a 23-yard completion against Washington.

The MVP, though, has to be Shane Williams-Rhodes. The senior, who has over 200 career receptions, now has a 53-yard touchdown pass to his name thanks to having his name called as the quarterback in the Colorado State game.

This play won’t go away any time soon, probably leaving Chaz Anderson wondering when his number will be called upon to be the player that gets to throw the ball.

Honorable Mentions

The debut of Brett Rypien, Sperbeck’s last three games, and the depth on defense are all noteworthy items.  Even punter Sean Wale, after some first game hiccups, has been solid this year. In fact, I’m giving him the “kept us in the BYU game with his excellent punting” award. Despite the loss in that game, Wale’s repeated pinning of BYU deep in their own territory was a main reason Boise State held the lead late in that game. So, Wale gets in an award. The rest: maybe next year fellas.

Truth be told, there is a lot of good coming out of the Boise State program this year. Keep it up, finish strong, and some real awards will be coming their way. And hopefully a Mountain West championship to go along with them.


About Jason Haskins

Jason is a 2001 graduate of Boise State and has been an avid fan of Boise State Athletics since the late 90's. Originally from Spring Creek, NV, Jason grew up a fan of the Fred Gatlin era Nevada Wolf Pack, but immediately switched his allegiances while attending school at Boise State. He hasn't looked back since and remains a loyal supporter of Boise State. For more:

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