BOISE — Boise State’s quarterback race could be nearing a climactic conclusion.
The Broncos will hold an all-important second scrimmage at Albertsons Stadium on Friday night, and a starting quarterback for the season opener against Florida State figures to be decided based on the results.
Head coach Bryan Harsin has said he’d like to decide on a starter roughly 10 days before the season opener to give the Broncos extra time to build chemistry with the rest of the offense. That timeline ends in the middle of next week, leaving Friday night’s scrimmage as the last major chance for the candidates to prove themselves.
The favorite at this point would seem to be Chase Cord, a redshirt sophomore who was the backup to Brett Rypien last season before suffering a torn ACL midway through the season. He’s the most experienced, the most familiar with the offense and has game experience — but has been brought along slowly due to his knee.
Cord appeared in four games last year, completing 6 of 9 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown while also rushing eight times for 109 yards and another score. He had a 44-yard touchdown run against Troy in his first game last year.
The question all along with Cord has been his health, but Harsin said after the first scrimmage last week that he’s participating fully in practice and has no limitations from the training staff.
“At this point now it’s really how he feels,” Harsin said.
A healthy Cord would have made him a heavy favorite going into camp, and Harsin admitted earlier this summer that he would have had a “leg up” had he not suffered the injury last season. Now that he appears to be healthy and without limitations, it’s reasonable to assume he’ll be the choice to start against the Seminoles.
Senior Jaylon Henderson and freshman Hank Bachmeier are also competing for the spot, with the newcomer Bachmeier probably the biggest challenger to Cord. The four-star recruit arrived with plenty of hype when he enrolled in time for spring practices, and has done well during fall camp, according to Harsin.
But asking a freshman to start the opener against Florida State has always seemed like something the Broncos would hope to avoid if at all possible, and nothing appears to have changed that thought at this point.
Henderson is the steady option that doesn’t seem to get much fanfare or publicity, but was a serviceable backup last season once Rypien got hurt. The former junior college transfer has looked much better in practice than when he first arrived on campus in January 2018.
Redshirt freshman Riley Smith and freshman Kaiden Bennett likely won’t be factors at the quarterback spot this season.
Boise State could end up naming a starter but also giving playing time to one of the other quarterbacks. The most likely scenario would be for Cord to officially win the job, but Bachmeier to also play in the opener. The Broncos used two quarterbacks in 2017 when Rypien and Montell Cozart both saw action.
Bachmeier can play in up to four games while still preserving his redshirt year, which could factor into how Boise State’s coaches decide to handle the position in the early part of the season.
Boise State’s players on both sides of the ball have been watching the battle closely and will be curious to find out who is named starter. But they don’t appear to be concerned.
“For us, whoever goes on the field we know will be prepared and we can see what all these guys can do in practice and there’s not much drop off between each guy,” nickel Kekaula Kaniho said. “Whatever they can bring to the table, we know they will be prepared to be the starter and if one guy has to come in at some point in the game, he’ll be ready to go, too. We’re not really worried about it.”
The Broncos also have to sort out the depth chart at running back, where Andrew Van Buren, Robert Mahone and freshman George Holani all figure to get playing time.
Harsin will meet with the media after last Friday’s closed scrimmage, but no announcement on the starters at quarterback or running back is expected.