‘Not afraid’ to try new things, Boise State has OC call plays from sideline for a half

Boise State offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan is a coach who’s not used to being on the sideline.

But in the first half of the Broncos’ win over North Dakota last Saturday, there he stood on the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium, calling plays and talking to players.

“To be honest with you, I felt way more comfortable upstairs,” Hamdan said Monday during the coaches’ weekly press conference. “It’s the first time I’d been down there on the field, and I don’t know exactly what to equate it to, but when you’ve got that vantage point from up top — I thought the second half, being able to see things, just felt more comfortable.”

Head coach Andy Avalos said Hamdan started the game on the field to “get us going early on.”

“We’re not afraid to make adjustments,” Avalos said. “It’s whatever’s best for the team. It was nice to have him down there. Obviously, the second half he was able to go back up in the box, and we’ll move forward with what’s best for the team.”

Both Avalos and Hamdan said the sideline experiment gave Hamdan a chance to communicate face-to-face with quarterback Taylen Green and help try to create an early rhythm.

With Hamdan on the field, the Broncos turned up the creativity on their second drive of the game. They successfully completed a double pass for 17 yards and ran sophomore running back Ashton Jeanty several times out of the wildcat formation.

But correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Hamdan could have just as easily made those play calls from the box, and the statistics don’t exactly paint a clear picture of the experiment, with the Broncos scoring 21 points in each half.

However, the first half included sustained touchdown drives of 71 and 85 yards, each of those taking at least 11 plays, and Boise State got 222 of its 394 total yards in the first two quarters.

Player reaction to Hamdan’s presence on the sideline was positive.

“He’s a great guy to have out there, and I know he felt more comfortable in the box, he said, but it’s great seeing him, and he’s such a great leader and motivator for us,” tight end Riley Smith said. “Him being out there the first half honestly helped us lock in, but we have a great plan of what we’re going to do moving forward. ... So we love having him out, whichever spot he can be in.”

Where Hamdan will be Friday night at 8:30 p.m. Mountain time at San Diego State remains unclear. Avalos emphasized that it would be “whatever’s best for the team.”

“Whatever they want to do, we’re just gonna ride with it, and we know it’ll be the best process for us,” Smith said.


When: 8:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Snapdragon Stadium (35,000, grass), San Diego

TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, Aaron Taylor, Justin Walters)

Radio: KBOI 670 AM/93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

Records: Boise State 1-2; San Diego State 2-2

Series: The series is tied 4-4. Boise State won last year’s meeting 35-13 in Boise.

Vegas line: Boise State by 7

Weather: High of 71 degrees, 13% chance of rain, 11 mph wind