Rushing attack, lack of sacks show Boise State’s offensive line is ‘playing really well’

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In search of advice before beginning his college football career, Boise State offensive lineman Mason Randolph turned to a family member who spent years in the NFL.

Randolph’s uncle, Robert Coons, signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 1993. The former tight end spent two seasons in Miami and three with the Buffalo Bills. He played his college ball at Pittsburgh.

“He said, ‘Keep your head down and your ears up,’” Randolph said. “He was telling me to work hard and stay out of trouble and listen to everything I can.”

Randolph took his uncle’s words to heart, and he’s become a mainstay on the Broncos’ offensive line. The redshirt sophomore started 10 games at guard last season. This year, he’s started eight games, playing both guard and center.

“Mason is big and strong and all that, but more importantly, he’s smart and he’s consistent in trying to perfect his craft,” Boise State offensive line coach Tim Keane said. “He ... gives it his all no matter what.”

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The 6-foot-4, 300-pound native of Yorba Linda, California, was named a Freshman All-American by three organizations after not surrendering a single sack last season.

He’s part of an offensive line at Boise State that’s given up just 12 sacks this year, which is tied for No. 11 in the country. That’s an average of 1.09 sacks a game, the third-fewest the Broncos have ever given up in a season.

The Broncos’ offensive line, which also has excelled at run blocking, will try to keep quarterback Taylen Green’s jersey clean again Friday in the regular-season finale against Air Force (2 p.m., FS1) at Albertsons Stadium.

“Offensive line is a position where you don’t get a lot of praise, but they deserve all of it,” interim head coach Spencer Danielson said. “You know what you can expect every day. They’re going to show up ready to work.”

Broncos’ offensive line shines

Boise State’s offensive line played what may have been its best game of the season last weekend in a 45-10 win at Utah State. The line gave up just one sack and opened massive holes, and the Broncos racked up 352 rushing yards. It was the first time they rushed for more than 350 yards in a game since Boise State posted 400 against UConn in 2018.

Many of those lanes opened up between Randolph, who was at center, and a pair of veteran guards: Garrett Curran and Ben Dooley.

Thanks to a talented backfield and a veteran offensive line, Boise State is averaging 210 rushing yards a game, which ranks No. 8 in the country. Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said the Broncos’ quarterbacks and running backs might want to think about buying the linemen a fancy dinner as a thank you at the end of the season.

“They’ve been playing really well all season,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of those guys and what they’ve accomplished.”

Curran, a 6-5, 303-pound sixth-year senior, has been an anchor on the line since 2019. He’s played in 55 games and started 39 since his redshirt freshman year.

He’s also started games at three different positions. His first career start was at right tackle in 2019. He started 28 games at left guard between 2020 and 2022, and he’s started games at center and left guard this year.

Curran took some practice reps at center last season, but he was thrust into the starting role this year after Randolph suffered an injury that kept him out for three games. His leadership has not gone unnoticed in the locker room, Hamdan said.

“He’s a guy that embodies being a Bronco more than anybody else in this organization,” Hamdan said. “He brings his lunch pail to work every day, and his maturity has allowed him to play his best ball this past year.”

Veterans and newcomers bolster line

Boise State will celebrate senior day before Friday’s game against Air Force. It likely will be the last home game of Curran’s college career.

“I’ll obviously remember all the wins and stuff like that, but my favorite stuff is just being in the locker room hanging out with the boys,” he said.

Dooley, a 6-5, 300-pound fifth-year senior, has started 21 games since 2021. He’s dealt with some injuries the past two seasons, including an infected bone spur in his foot that kept him out of eight games last year.

He’s missed four games this year, but he’s a difference maker when he’s out there, Keane said. Dooley has one year of eligibility remaining because of the extra year the NCAA offered players in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ben is just one of those blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of guys,” Keane said. “When he’s run blocking and gets his hands on you, you’re not getting them off.”

The Broncos’ offensive line has also been bolstered this season by sixth-year senior Cade Beresford at right tackle and redshirt freshman Kage Casey, who has started all 11 games at left tackle. Texas Tech transfer Ethan Carde has seen significant snaps at left guard and tackle, and as an extra tight end in short-yardage situations.

Beresford probably will be playing the final home game of his career Friday.

“This has been one of my favorite groups to coach in my career,” Keane said. “The bond these guys have is incredible. They’re hard-working and smart, and they’re having a great year.”