BOISE — After last week's cancellation against San Jose State because of COVID-19, the Boise State football team returned to practice Tuesday ahead of their Friday night matchup against UNLV.
“It's a short week which we’ve dealt with before; not in the same circumstances following last week, but the guys came out with really good focus today and it was a high energy practice,” said Jeff Schmedding, BSU defensive coordinator.
After the devastating news that the Broncos would not get to celebrate their seniors on the Blue for their last home game, the team is using it as fuel for this next matchup.
“For our seniors, Senior Night on the Blue, that’s a big thing for us just to celebrate with our brothers,” said Avery Williams, BSU cornerback.
“When you have something that you want so bad, and you know unfortunately the circumstances happen, and you’re sitting there at home watching other people play, I do think that locks people in so that when you have this next opportunity, you’re ready to go,” said Schmedding.
The biggest challenge heading into this week will be filling the defensive line positions. The Broncos have four defensive linemen out with season-ending injuries, and with not enough athletes to fill those specific positions last week partly due to COVID, the Broncos will have to pull from other positions.
“We have some guys that we can rotate in there for sure and this week the benefit is we get to have a little more time doing that. I expect those guys to play at a high level I can tell you that.”
But, that also brings its own set of challenges.
“You don’t want to move too many guys around cause then you are getting less confident performance out of multiple so you try to move as few as possible but certainly some guys have got to learn a couple of different positions with the defensive line,” said Schmedding.
“You never know who is going to be in there," said Williams. "We emphasize to them you really have to prepare like a starter and this is something we have always said but it has never been more real this year because you really don’t know when your number might get called.”
The Broncos have won the last six match-ups, but with the uncertainty of COVID-19, this game will test the team. Still, Schmedding said that the game will come down to execution, especially on defense.
“There’s a lot of pushing and QB run game and some RPOs, so they are going to make you cover the whole field," said Schmedding. "They are going to try and mess with your eyes a little bit with their motions.”
The game is being played in Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders, so the Broncos will get a taste of what it feels like to play in an NFL stadium, but with no fans.
You can catch it live at 7:30 p.m. MT on CBS Sports Network.