BOISE — The intrigue surrounding Boise State’s quarterback situation became a bit clearer and a bit more confusing all at the same time Monday.
Boise State’s depth chart for Saturday’s Mountain West Conference championship was updated to list Jaylon Henderson as the starting quarterback. He had been listed as third string each of the past three weeks despite starting and winning all three games.
Coach Bryan Harsin said: “Yeah, absolutely there is” when he was asked Monday if there was reason for one to read into the change to the depth chart. Freshman Hank Bachmeier had been listed as the starter every week this season despite playing in just one of the last six games.
“I think that says it all right there without getting into too much detail,” Harsin said. “We made a change. Jaylon has been playing well. I think Jaylon has proven himself. He’s done a really good job.”
Henderson initially entered the starting lineup three weeks ago against New Mexico because of apparent injuries to both Bachmeier and Chase Cord. On the year, he’s completed 64 of 104 passes (61.5%) for 820 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception.
The last two weeks against Utah State and Colorado State, both Bachmeier and Cord have participated in pregame warmups and looked capable of being able to play, but neither have seen the field.
This is where it gets more confusing. Without elaborating, Harsin said Monday, “all those guys, like I told you before, they’re all available to play.” That leads some to think the decision to start Henderson is no longer related to the injury statuses of Bachmeier and Cord, but instead the Broncos electing to go with the hot hand. The Broncos have scored 122 points the past three games with Henderson under center.
But Henderson was the third-stringer to start the season for a reason, and Bachmeier was picked as the starter for a reason. And all Bachmeier did was go 6-0 to start the season, and then win his only other start against San Jose State. He did nothing to suggest he shouldn’t be the starter if healthy, yet it appears the Broncos are now choosing Henderson over him.
“Jaylon has certainly earned that opportunity, where we are right now, to go out there and play,” Harsin said. “I fully expect him to prepare this week and get himself ready to go.”
Harsin, who didn’t seem to be in the best of moods Monday, was asked how Bachmeier and Cord are handling effectively being benched at this point.
“How do I think they are handling it? You’d have to ask them, (but) you’re not going to get a chance to,” Harsin said. “I’d say those guys are handling it like they should. ... I would say none of those guys have been issues. They haven’t been pouting, any of that. They know how to prepare themselves to perform and right now, that’s what their responsibility is. That’s what their role is on this team.”
Harsin said the two “have to accept” the backup role at this point. “You don’t always have to like it, but you need to accept it,” he said. “That’s your role right now. Get yourself ready to play, and make sure you’re prepared so if you get your opportunity and go out there, you can execute.”
Bachmeier and Cord won’t be made available to the media this week and have talked just once all season — prior to the home game against New Mexico that Cord started. Henderson also talked that week, and he’s talked twice since, both times after games — including two weeks ago at Utah State.
“I don’t think we have a problem in that room,” Harsin said.
Bachmeier started the first six games of the season before suffering an injury against Hawaii. Cord started in his place against BYU, but Bachmeier returned the next game to start at San Jose State.
With Harsin remaining quiet and non-specific on the injury front, it’s hard to know exactly what happened next. Bachmeier apparently suffered an unknown injury against San Jose State, because Cord returned to the starting lineup against Wyoming the following week.
The next week against New Mexico it was Henderson, with no advanced warning or notice, who made the start on senior night. Both Cord and Bachmeier suited up, but neither participated in pregame warmups and both appeared unavailable to go in the game.
Henderson started again the following week against Utah State, but both Bachmeier and Cord threw during pregame warmups and looked capable of entering the game. It was the same thing last week against Colorado State as Henderson started, but the other two appeared to not have limitations during warmups.
All the while, the depth chart never changed, listing Bachmeier as the starter, Cord as the backup and Henderson as No. 3.
That changed Monday when the Broncos moved Henderson to the top spot.
“I think all those guys have done really good things throughout the season, but you get to play one guy,” Harsin said. “We’ve played multiple (quarterbacks in some games) and it doesn’t mean we can’t play multiple in (Saturday’s) game. We’ve done that before where it’s not a decision based off performance or a decision based off somebody being injured. We’ve just done it.
“I think all those guys deserve to play, so get ready. Get ready to play and go out there and perform. If it’s all three playing, it’s all three playing.”
But Henderson will at least start Saturday’s championship game. At least we think.
HARSIN COMMENTS ON PETERSEN
Harsin was asked about former Boise State coach Chris Petersen stepping down Monday as the head coach at Washington. Petersen said he wants to “recharge” while working in an advisory role within the Washington athletic department.
The two worked together for several years at Boise State, including when Harsin was the offensive coordinator from 2006-10 while Petersen was head coach. Harsin replaced Petersen as head coach at Boise State when he left for Washington after the 2013 season.
“You guys know how I feel about ‘Pete’ and you guys know the type of relationship we had here and the things we were able to do,” Harsin said. “I don’t know the whole situation. He certainly didn’t call me and tell me what he was planning on doing or didn’t ask my opinion, either. This is the world we live in sometimes. I don’t know why guys make decisions. It’s all over the country too, it’s not just exclusive to Washington or other places like that.
“I’m sure we’ll get more information as things go along, but I just got word of it before I came in here not too long ago. Our focus is what we’re trying to do this week. We’ll get into all that stuff probably down the road at some point.”
TICKETS ON SALE
Tickets for Saturday’s Mountain West title game are on sale at BroncoSports.com and the Albertsons Stadium ticket office. Prices range from $25 to $45. Harsin said Monday there was “no reason” why the stadium shouldn’t be packed with the game starting at 2 p.m.