The last time Boise State sophomore quarterback Hank Bachmeier started back-to-back weeks was in early October 2019, when he was emerging as a young star.
He’s expected to do that again Saturday — 13 months later — and against the same opponent that derailed his 2019 season: Hawaii.
Bachmeier missed the Air Force win and BYU loss this season after testing positive for COVID-19, he told the media Tuesday. He returned last week to help the Broncos (3-1 overall, 3-0 Mountain West) beat Colorado State.
“I can’t control injuries. I can’t control a global pandemic,” Bachmeier said. “They’re all things that are kind of out of my sphere of control. It stinks, but they’re things that I can’t control. But I can control how prepared I am.”
Bachmeier went 6-0 as the starter last season before he was injured in the regular-season win against Hawaii. He missed the loss to BYU, returned to beat San Jose State and got injured again, then missed the final four regular-season games and the Mountain West title game against Hawaii.
He was back in the lineup for the bowl loss to Washington — then didn’t get to play for 10 months as the Broncos waited for a green light to compete during the pandemic.
In all, Bachmeier is 9-1 as a starter, and the Broncos are 6-2 without him.
Bachmeier is 36-for-56 for 470 yards and four touchdowns without an interception this season. In his two starts, the Broncos outscored the opponents 94-34.
“Having him out there, his sense of urgency, his operation, that helps our offense,” coach Bryan Harsin said after Saturday’s win.
Bachmeier watched one game this season from home ( Air Force, when backup Jack Sears was terrific in a win) and another from the sideline (BYU, a loss in which Sears was knocked out with a potential head injury).
Bachmeier learned that he tested positive before practice early in the Air Force game week, he said. He was asymptomatic, he said, and completed isolation in time to watch the BYU game from the field. He wasn’t cleared to return to action until the day after the BYU game, he said, because of cardiac and other required tests.
He participated in quarterback meetings and stayed in touch with the game plan during his isolation to keep his mind sharp and assist his teammates.
“It was definitely frustrating,” he said.
His 4-month-old, 70-pound puppy — a Great Pyrenees/Maremma mix — kept him company. He also spent more time watching Netflix than usual, he said.
Physical activity in a two-bedroom apartment was difficult to find.
“I tried to channel my inner Bruce Lee and do some pushups and things along those lines,” he said.
Bachmeier was the first Bronco to miss a game because of a positive test this season. He was among four who were out with positive tests against BYU. That number rose to nine players out with positive tests last week, plus five out because they were close contacts of positive cases.
Bachmeier said he doesn’t know how he contracted the virus. The team, he said, is following the advice they’ve been given to stay healthy.
“This team is very responsible,” he said. “We’re not going out and doing parties. We have a goal, and we’re trying to accomplish that goal by any means necessary. And if that’s to stay home on a Friday night, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Cripe writes for the Idaho Statesman