Venue just one obstacle for Boise State’s opener at UW. ‘There’s just no tuning it out’

Having coached at the University of Washington for five seasons, Boise State offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan knows better than most what’s in store for the Broncos on Saturday when they take the field for their season opener against 10th-ranked Washington.

Husky Stadium in Seattle, which seats more than 70,000, is the largest stadium — college or professional — in the Pacific Northwest and ranks among the nation‘s top 15 largest on-campus facilities, according to the university.

It likely will be the biggest crowd many of the Broncos have ever played in front of.

“I think in my coaching career, and I think with these players, there’s just no tuning it out. There really isn’t,” Hamdan said. “I tell these guys all the time, it’s not going to be a situation you just go out there and you tune 75,000 people out, and 350 boats on the water and the city and the experience. We’ve got to be aware of it. You’ve got to take it all in.”

The Broncos know the task at hand Saturday (1:30 p.m., ABC) is a big one, and not just because of the venue.

The Huskies finished the 2022 season with an 11-2 record and a No. 8 ranking in the final Associated Press Top 25 Poll of the season. UW ranked No. 2 in the nation for total offense (516.2 yards per game), and tops in passing yards per game at 369.8. Their 39.7 points per game ranked seventh in the country.

“They’ve got one of the best wide receiver corps in the nation. It’s not just the quarterback. It’s the whole passing game altogether, and it’s going to be a huge part of the game,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “Again, they’re the No. 1 pass offense in the nation for a reason.

“They gave up some of the fewest amount of sacks last year, and all while they do pass the ball a fair amount. That tells you that they do a good job taking care of the quarterback. The quarterback does get the ball out on time, and he’s got plenty of guys to spread the ball around to.”

Washington senior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. finished the 2022 season as the national leader in passing yards per game (357.0) and was second in total passing yards to set the UW single-season record at 4,641. Penix finished eighth in Heisman Trophy voting and was named a 2022 All-Pac-12 second-team selection.

And he heads into this season with arguably two of the Pac-12’s best receivers: juniors Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan.

Odunze led the Huskies last season with 1,144 receiving yards and was second in receptions (75). He also led the Pac-12 in reception yards on his way to being named All-Pac-12 first-team and AP All-America third-team selections. McMillan finished with 1,098 receiving yards, the seventh-most in program history.

The Huskies’ third starting receiver, sophomore Ja’Lynn Polk, has plenty of experience, too. He played in all 13 of the Huskies’ games last season, with 41 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns.

Several true freshmen make depth chart

Avalos released the first depth chart of the 2023 season on Monday, and four true freshmen made an appearance.

On offense, Prince Strachan, from Freeport, Grand Bahama, will back up redshirt sophomore Erik McCalister at the X receiver position. Temecula, California, offensive lineman Jason Steele will be No. 2 at left guard behind redshirt senior Ben Dooley.

On defense, Germany native Max Stege will see playing time at defensive tackle, while Ty Benefield, from Irvine, California, will be Rodney Robinson’s backup at free safety.


When: 1:30 p.m. Mountain time Saturday

Where: Husky Stadium (70,138, AstroTurf), Seattle, Washington

TV: ABC (Bob Wischusen, Robert Griffin III, Kris Budde)

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

Records: Boise State 0-0; Washington 0-0

Series: Washington leads the all-time series 3-2, most recently defeating the Broncos 38-7 in the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl

Vegas line: Washington by 14.5

Weather: High of 79 degrees, 15% chance of rain, 7 mph winds