There is an old football adage: “If you have two quarterbacks, you really have none”. Well, Bryan Harsin and his Boise State Broncos are going to challenge that assumption.
Redshirt senior transfer Montell Cozart made his BSU quarterbacking debut in Saturday’s 24-13 season-opening win over Troy, and he played more than just a supporting role. Matter of fact, you could make the argument he was the co-leading man.
Harsin has been steadfast in his endorsements of Cozart’s talent, and that he in fact would contribute to the Broncos’ offense. And that wasn’t too hard to believe seeing as Brett Rypien’s 2016 backup, Tommy Stuart, had his own personnel group, and with Cozart seemingly being an even better version of the aforementioned Tommy Football, it made sense.
But Cozart wasn’t just out there in obvious running scenarios, or goal line plays. No, Cozart was out there for entire series. Important series. With what looked to be the entire Bronco playbook at his disposal.
So, what gives? Do the Broncos have two quarterbacks? Or do they have none? Is Harsin playing a dangerous game, or being smart with his talent?
In my opinion: smart.
One of the biggest criticisms of Harsin has been that he’s predictable. Well, this decision was not predictable. And most importantly, it worked.
The predictable course of action would have been to give Cozart his normally scheduled package of plays, but when it comes down to crunch time, Rypien would be the one leading the Broncos down the field.
Instead, Harsin rode the hot hand, took advantage of the opportunities Cozart’s athleticism gave them, and got out of week one with a win.
When asked if he was worried about this decision hurting Rypien’s confidence moving forward, Harsin was certain in his answer.
“No, I don’t think this has anything to do with his [Rypien’s] confidence,” Harsin said. “Confidence comes from preparation, and Brett does a great job of that.”
He also added that this is a part of being on a team.
“Guys play. Montell was doing a good job, and like a tailback sometimes you get a guy out their rolling, and you put him in there and he makes some plays,” Harsin said.
Do I think Rypien is in danger of losing his starting position for the Broncos? Absolutely not. Rypien has proven he’s the man for Boise State. On the other hand, do I think Cozart playing nearly 40 percent of the snaps, and captaining Boise late in the fourth quarter is the best recipe for BSU success throughout the season? I do not.
I think this game was an outlier. The perfect situation for Cozart was to come in and succeed as much as he did. And credit must be given to this staff for not only recognizing that, but having the intestinal fortitude to keep calling Cozart’s number.
Rypien will still be the man behind center next Saturday against Washington State. And for better or worse, the Broncos will go as far as Rypien takes them.
But heading into next week’s showdown in Pullman, you can bet that Mike Leach and his staff will be losing sleep trying to prepare for No. 3, and the problems he poses, because the Broncos have two quarterbacks, not none.