Fiesta Notebook: It's No Party for Freshman Facing TCU's Hughes
But for a freshman making just the second start of his career and first at right tackle, it almost doesn't seem fair. Yet, that is the reality of Boise State redshirt freshman Brenel Myers, who will be matched up against Hughes for most of the night when the the third-ranked Horned Frogs meet the No. 6 Broncos during Monday's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Myers earned the job after starter Garrett Pendergast went down with an ankle injury during last week's practice and isn't available.
"Obviously he's playing one of the best players in college football," said Boise State right guard Kevin Sapien. "It's going to be a huge job to block him, a huge responsibility."
But it's a job Boise State coach Chris Petersen believes Myers is up for even if he's only made one career start at right guard and has never played right tackle in a game. Myers has seen action in five games this season but missed some considerable time with injuries after starting Oct. 3 against UC Davis.
"We've been very high on Brenel Myers since he's been here," Petersen said of the 6-foot-2, 267-pound player from Houston. "He's probably a true guard, but he's athletic enough to play either position. He just hasn't played enough because of some injuries, but he's finally healthy enough at the right time."
Myers beat out freshman Michael Ames, who had backed Pendergast this season, during last week's practice. His prize? An even tougher assignment trying to slow Hughes, who has 26.5 sacks in the last two seasons.
"Yeah it concerns us," Petersen said. "All of our guys going against [Hughes] is a concern. But Brenel is an athletic as anybody we have and that will help, but there is no substitute for experience and that's the one thing we're lacking."
Myers will be playing on an offensive line that leads the nation in fewest sacks allowed on quarterback Kellen Moore with just five. Moore is already hard to get to because of his quick release, but the Broncos may have to do more to protect him with an inexperienced player in the lineup.
"There are some things you can do to help him schematically but you've still got to be good enough to block him because the air isn't going t stop him," Sapien said.
Myers wasn't made available during Friday's media day, so that left his teammates and coaches to talk for him.
"I think he's fine with it, he's real excited to play," Sapien said. "This will be his second game to start, a big game so I'm sure he's jacked out of this world to play."
Availability of Priest
TCU senior cornerback Rafael Priest could possibly make the 51st start of his impressive career Monday against the Broncos, but then maybe he won't.
It depends on who you talk to.
TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson said he isn't sure if Priest will be able to play after injuring his left ankle in practice on Dec. 21st. But it sounds like if Priest has anything to say about it, he be out there against Boise State's high-scoring offense.
"I feel like I'm going to play," Priest said to reporters. "If the game was tomorrow, I'd be suiting up. The only way I'm playing is if I can't do anything."
If Priest isn't able to go, Patterson said he will turn to sophomore Greg McCoy to start in Priest's place.
"The biggest thing for us, through the season is when guys have gone down, other guys step up," Patterson. "We feel confident in Greg McCoy. I think Greg has more interceptions than Priest does."
In order to get a feel for what the Frogs might see from Boise State's bag of offensive tricks, Patterson said he studied film from the last five seasons.
"When you play Boise State, you'd better look back at all the guidance, all the formations, how they attack," said Patterson, whose team edged Boise State in last year's Poinsettia Bowl. "We know we probably won't see anything we saw a year ago. So we are trying to prepare for all the rest of it."
Petersen said he has looked back at only the last two seasons of the Frogs, before finding humor what in Patterson had said.
"We haven't gone back five years," he joked. "I would like to know how he got five years of tape. Isn't that cheating?"
"You know, I hope he went five years back because there is so much stuff there," Petersen continued. "Sometimes that can make it tougher on you."
Certainly, Patterson and his defensive staff couldn't have thought they would see Boise State again so soon when they invited the Broncos' defensive staff to Fort Worth, Texas, last offseason to allow the Broncos defensive staff to get some pointers on the TCU defense.
Now here the two are about to meet in the Fiesta Bowl and its conceivable the Broncos have the book on TCU's top-ranked defense does. But Patterson dismissed any talk their information exchange could hurt the Horned Frogs on Monday night.
"I seriously doubt that if we get beat that it has anything to do with what I told Boise," said Patterson, whose No.1 overall defense will be facing the nation's top scoring offense in the Fiesta Bowl. "It would be more about Boise outplayed, hit us in the mouth and scored one more point."
It's customary for football staffs to exchange coaching ideas with schools they don't normally compete with during the offseason. Patterson and Petersen's friendship goes back to their UC-Davis days in the late 1980s when Patterson was a young linebackers coach and Petersen was a receiver on the team.
"There are not very many things out there that are very different. All of us steal ideas," Patterson said. "I think the key to it is: Did it make them better? We shared ideas with Oregon and they are in the Rose Bowl, but I don't think we had that much to do with it. You are always trying to get better.
"What a lot of people don't realize is coaching is a very small fraternity and in a lot ways we take care of each other. It's always my responsibility to give back."