Target practice: Quarterbacks will be on display at Boise State

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2017

Saturday’s showdown between Troy and Boise State could provide the nation with one of the top quarterback duels of the week.

The Trojans and Broncos both return experienced talent at the quarterback position. Trojan quarterback Brandon Silvers and Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien finished last season with similar numbers including yards and touchdowns.

“I think our quarterback matchup in the first game is one of the best in all of college football during opening week,” said Troy head coach Neal Brown. “Rypien, their quarterback, and Silvers is going to be a great matchup.”

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Silvers finished last season with 23 touchdown passes, good enough for fourth in the Sun Belt Conference while throwing 12 interceptions. His 63 percent completion percentage ranked him 18th in the country.

“If you look at the senior quarterbacks around the country, I like Brandon Silvers as much as anybody,” Brown said. “He is accurate, his body is in better shape and I think he has matured more off the field. He has grown as a leader. During fall camp, I think it’s the first time I can comfortably say Brandon and leader in the same sentence. He is a guy that is respected on our football team and he has proven himself.”

Like Silvers, Rypien put up lofty numbers in 2016. He finished with 3,646 passing yards with 24 touchdowns. His completion percentage fell just short of Silvers at 61.9 percent. He was named to the All-Mountain-West First Team for the second consecutive season.

Rypien enters the season on the Walter Camp Award Watch List, while Silvers sits on five watch lists including the Allstate Sugar Bowl Manning Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Maxwell Award and the Senior Bowl.

On Saturday, Silvers will have the opportunity to show up on a national stage with many eyes watching.

“He had a great season last year. He was first team all-conference,” Brown said. “I think he can continue to grow and be more consistent every day. I think he has a great opportunity. These are two high-level quarterbacks that are going to play on Saturday and he has the opportunity to make a statement on a national scene.”

Silvers has experience playing big-name schools. Last season as a junior, Silvers almost led Troy to an upset win against the eventual national champions in Clemson. In that game, Silvers completed 24 of his 42 passes for 233 yards and had two touchdowns. A week later on the road against Southern Mississippi, Silvers completed 10 of his 27 passes and had three touchdowns.

Silvers and the Trojans look to once again make national noise when they take on Rypien and the Broncos at 2:45 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.