The Future of Bryan Harsin And Boise State

Lack Of Experience

Something is going to be said that is terribly cliché. “Wait till next year.”

The Loss to BYU has brought out the ‘Debbie Downers’ in droves. Indeed, it is easy to do. It is a knee jerk reaction to reality. What is the reality?

Personally, I never thought the Broncos would have an undefeated season. My reasons were simple, no experience in the backfield. There are no proven standards of excellence.


Starting with the end of last year it was known Chase Cord would be a bit behind the curve because of his ACL injury. Chase went out last October and wasn’t cleared to take snaps until fall camp. That’s a lot of lost time. Especially when not having a lot of reps beforehand.

Before this season, Chase Cord had only thrown 9 D1 passes. That’s not experience.

Jaylon Henderson had even less experience. He tossed only one pass last year. That was his only D1 collegiate pass.

Henderson had an impressive season in JUCO in 2017. That’s a good foundation but it’s a long way from JUCO to D1.

That’s it.

Enter Hank Bachmeier. He’s a gamer and tough as a Waffle House steak but he’s not yet a polished product.

A redshirt could have paid rich dividends but the Broncos did not have that luxury. Cord hampered by the ACL and not enough time with Henderson to fully develop his potential.

Running Backs

Alexander Mattison left his senior year behind and went pro. He is doing quite nicely. Imagine for a moment the impact his presence may have had on the Bronco’s this season.

Going into the Spring camp the Broncos had only two semi-proven quantities at running back; Robert Mahone and Andrew Van Buren. Neither had a butt load of experience.

With neither of these commodities possessing blinding speed or crushing power, the only skill remaining to acquire is smarts. That means finding alternative spaces to run through and better able to know when a hole opens and when it’s not there.

Mahone has had flashes of real promise. Last year at times he burst through openings before the defense had a chance to react. It was the same against Florida State. Now he appears injured. In fact, I suspect he was injured late in the FSU game and has bravely pressed ahead.

Andrew Van Buren has not come along as fast as some have expected. He runs and works hard. Good games are in his future.

Freshman George Holani is impressive. For a guy under 200 pounds, he hits tacklers like a wrecking ball. Yet, he is inexperienced.

Rembrandt Or Picasso?

It’s better to have a quarterback who is smart rather than good. A case in point is Kellen Moore—the speed of a 45-year-old and the arm of a noodle—the brain of an Einstein. He used his quick feet, knowledge of the game, and rapid decision making; turning it into a 50 and 3 college career. Nobody gonna touch that.

Let’s face something about the past—meaning the Moore years. Boise was blessed with an unusual number of really good coaches. And not to be dismissed, players who responded.

This is not to say the current cadre of coaches is deficient—far from it. For most of those years, it was Chris Petersen, Bryan Harsin, and Justin Wilcox—talk about a staff!

A winning program is a conglomeration of a bunch of pieces to a puzzle. Not everyone can make them fit. When finished, some look like a Picasso, others a Rembrandt. In case your wondering, a Rembrandt looks like the picture on the puzzle’s box and Picasso looks like what has been dumped on the floor. We want Rembrandt’s.

Harsin Is Building A Juggernaut

It is incredibly difficult for a team to go undefeated. It takes plenty of prolate spheroids (footballs) bouncing in the right direction, refs missing an obvious hold, and a divine wind guiding a ball through the uprights. Most of all it takes hard work, more hard work, and more and more hard work.

Some have said Bryan Harsin has one surprise loss built into each year. That’s balderdash! Nobody wants to win more than Hars and his staff. To them, it’s their future. If they don’t win at Boise they go nowhere.

Harsin’s best teams are in front of him. The recruiting classes are better. Last year was the best year in Boise’s history. Wait until they come of age.

What will the Broncos look like when Hank Bachmeier is a junior or senior or for that fact a sophomore?

How will Robert Mahone finish out his senior season next year? George Holani is on a trajectory to have a great college career. And wait until Andrew Van Buren finds his sea legs.

For sure, there is a lot of in-between. Look for Bryan Harsin to find the sinews that will bond muscle to bone.

Thus, the next three years will be good years to be a Boise State Bronco fan. And may I add, this season is not over.


About Kenton Lewis

Kenton lives in Boise. He is the former publisher of the Boise State sports site, Smurf Turf; writing exclusively about Broncos football and basketball. He is also a novelist and short story writer.

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