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Boise State prepares for two-sport, dual-threat UCF QB. ‘That speaks to who he is’

There are not a lot of athletes at the Division I level like UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee.

The fifth-year senior from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, proved that last spring when he played for the Knights’ football and baseball teams on the same day.

Plumlee started in center field in UCF’s 12-3 win over Memphis on April 14, going 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs. He left the game in the seventh inning and was quickly escorted by golf cart to FBC Mortgage Stadium for the Knights’ spring football game. As UCF’s starting QB, he finished 10-for-17 passing for 236 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

It will be Boise State’s turn to try to slow the versatile Plumlee this week as the UCF football team comes to town for the Broncos’ 2023 home opener at Albertsons Stadium. Kickoff is 5 p.m. Saturday, and the game will be televised on FS1.

“We see a quarterback who is very efficient through the air within their plan of attack in the pass game, and he’s one of the fastest players on the field as well,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “He’s proven to do that over the course of the last two years. He is obviously a number in the run game that you’ve got to account for and then obviously in the passing game, being able to extend or turn a pass play into a run play with his explosiveness.”

UCF is coming off a 56-6 win over Kent State in which the Knights put up 723 total yards in a balanced effort that included 334 through the air and 389 on the ground. Plumlee completed 22-of-30 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. He also carried the ball eight times for 92 yards and another score.

“When you can play two sports at the level he does, that speaks to who he is,” Boise State defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson said. “… I think the world of him as an athlete, especially seeing him over the years grow, seeing him from last season to now. I mean, he’s always been able to take off and run, but he can make all the throws.”

Plumlee began his career at Ole Miss in 2019. As a freshman, he broke the Ole Miss rushing record by a quarterback with 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns. But he was moved to receiver and chose to transfer to UCF beginning with the 2022 season.

Last season, Plumlee was UCF’s leading rusher with 159 carries for 861 yards and 11 TDs, which was more than any other FBS quarterback in 2022. He also threw for 2,586 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

After managing just one sack against Washington last week, the Boise State defense knows it must do a better job getting pressure on Plumlee this week.

“We’re working really hard to become better pass rushers and get to the QB on time,” Boise State defensive end Ahmed Hassanein said. “We’re hungry. We can’t wait for the next opportunity to show what we can do. I feel like the last game, we were a little off on our timing and giving the time to the QB. I take full responsibility. I didn’t feel like I played my best game, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people that feel the same way as me.

“This week, after that loss, we’re just going in hungry and that one game isn’t going to define who we are.”

UCF to practice on blue field

UCF coach Gus Malzahn revealed during a news conference Monday that the Knights intend to practice on a blue field at least once this week in preparation for the environment inside Albertsons Stadium.

The Master’s Academy, a K-12 Christian school in Oviedo, Florida, has a blue field similar to Boise State’s.

“It’s a new deal. You’re not used to it,” Malzahn said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta play football.”

UCF AT BOISE STATE

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise

TV: FS1 (Eric Collins, Devin Gardner)

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

Records: Boise State 0-1; UCF 1-0

Series: UCF won the only meeting between these two teams 36-31 in 2021 in Orlando, Florida

Vegas line: UCF by 3.5

Weather: High of 88 degrees, 0% chance of rain, 7 mph winds