Losing a starting quarterback—a second-year starter no less—can derail many teams’ season if there is no depth in the run game.
Fortunately for head coach Chris Peterson, the Broncos have a plethora of running to compensate for the loss of redshirt senior Joe Southwick.
Southwick missed his third straight game Saturday night after breaking his ankle on the first offensive play in a 34-17 win over Nevada on Oct. 19.
Boise State has gone 2-1 in that span after routing Wyoming 48-7 on Saturday.
Taking some of the pressure off of Southwick’s replacement, redshirt junior Grant Hedrick, are running backs Jay Ajayi and Devan Demas.
“I like to believe that I can carry that weight and pressure,” Ajayi said. “I’m just trying to come out and help my team win.”
Ajayi continued to show improvements in his first year as the starter with a 70 yard, three touchdown performance against Wyoming on 11 carries—putting him at 1,078 yards and 15 touchdowns for the season.
Ajayi, however, was outgained by redshirt freshman Devan Demas. Demas, seeing extended action for the first time, finished with 73 yards on 12 carries. He gives the Broncos a change of pace back opposite of a battering ram like Ajayi.
“He’s definitely a change of pace guy,” Peterson said. “He’s kind of slithery and has good speed. It’s nice to get him in there for some extended reps.”
After seeing Demas move back and forth from the scout team despite solid performances in practice, Ajayi was proud to see Demas perform well in a game situation.
“Devan’s a great guy and he’s easy to root for,” Ajayi said. “He’s doing a lot of great things in practice and I was excited once he got in the game.”
The Broncos are also seeing solid showings from redshirt freshman Charles Bertoli—a walk-on from St. Helena, Calif.
Bertoli has averaged 7.3 yards a carry in mop-up duty for the Broncos. He offers yet another running threat for Peterson to utilize.
“Charles has done a nice job every time we’ve put him in,” Petersons said. “He does a great job on special teams and I think he has a bright future.”
Hedrick’s ability to also make plays with his feet makes Boise State one of the nation’s biggest threats on the ground—ranking them 23rd in the nation in rushing yards per game.