Boise State jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead over Idaho State Friday night despite playing without starting quarterback Ryan Finley for much of the first half.
Finley went down with a lower right leg injury after a five-yard scramble in the first quarter. The redshirt sophomore was tackled awkwardly from behind and his right ankle got rolled up on underneath an Idaho State defender.
Finley was helped off the field and later was taken into the locker room for further examination.
With Finley out, Boise brought in redshirt sophomore Tommy Stuart for his first action at the FBS level. Stuart, a junior college transfer in his second season with the BSU program, performed well in Finley’s absence, throwing for 69 yards and a touchdown while gaining 46 yards on the ground.
Despite Stuart's solid play, Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin opted to bring in true freshman Brett Rypien, a four-star recruit, early on in the second half. And on cue, Rypien led the Broncos right down the field for touchdowns on his first five (yes, five) collegiate drives.
Overall, Rypien completed 8-of-9 passes for 126 yards in his excellent debut, which ended in a 52-0 Boise State win.
Harsin's decision to put Rypien in the game raises a few questions. For one, it could indicate that Finley's injury is a serious one (Harsin had no update after the game). Would Harsin burn Rypien's redshirt if he wasn't going to be the top quarterback moving forward? I seriously doubt it, especially after Stuart's steady performance.
Rypien, who enrolled early, reportedly contended for the starting role with Finley before Harsin eventually went with Finley. It looks like Harsin initially brought in Stuart to preserve Rypien's redshirt in case Finley's injury was one he could return from quickly.
On a side note, true freshmen don't get in the game at quarterback for Boise State all that often.
Before Brett Rypien tonight, the last true freshman to play QB for Boise State was Tony Hilde in 1993. Made his debut vs Montana, 10/2/93
— Boise State Football (@BroncoSportsFB) September 19, 2015
Before the injury, Finley completed 5-of-6 pass attempts for 59 yards.
Finley, a first-year starter, had been plagued by inconsistent play early this season. Coming into Friday night’s game, he had thrown for 426 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions in Boise's two games -- a win over Washington and a loss to BYU.
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