San Diego State’s lineage of running backs since Boise State has been a member of the Mountain West is mighty impressive. The Aztecs have gone from Ronnie Hillman to Adam Muema to Donnel Pumphrey to Rashaad Penny. The thing about Penny—he had to play three years behind Pumphrey before finally becoming San Diego State’s feature back. It’s not normal these days for a player as talented as Penny to sit patiently behind a star for so long. But Penny did play. He holds the Aztecs’ career record for kickoff return touchdowns with five and is a two-time MW Special Teams Player of the Year. And last season Pumphrey and Penny became the first 2,000-yard/1,000-yard rushers on the same team in NCAA history. Penny’s the best player in the conference right now.
Did you know? Rashaad Penny is the younger brother of former Idaho running back Elijhaa Penny. Elijhaa was a load for the Vandals. And, at 5-11, 220 pounds, Rashaad is for the Aztecs, too. He runs over and through the people that Pumphrey used to run around. Penny is second in the nation in rushing yards behind Stanford’s Bryce Love and will likely go over the 1,000-yard mark on San Diego State’s first drive against Boise State Saturday night (he’s currently at 993). Penny is the first Aztec to open the season with six straight 100-yard games in a quarter-century—since Marshall Faulk in 1992. He had one carry for one yard the last time the Broncos and the Aztecs met in 2014, but he had three kickoff returns for 69 yards.
During the first half of last Friday’s Boise State win at BYU, the ESPN crew continually harped on the lack of Montell Cozart sightings. The calls for Cozart decreased markedly after halftime as Brett Rypien got into a rhythm, though. For the game, Cozart rushed just four times for 16 yards and completed his only pass for 17 yards. So how will Boise State use him from now on? At the very least, Cozart can complicate opponents’ game-planning. “They’re kind of coming to their own identity of what they want to do with each guy,” San Diego State defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales said. “As long as he’s healthy, it’s going to be Rypien, with a taste of Cozart. It gives them an advantage if you execute it. I mean, you have to waste time in practice preparing for both of them as opposed to one.”
Kimo von Oelhoffen has made it to the Hall that trumpets his heritage. The former Boise State standout has been named as a Class of 2018 inductee into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, with enshrinement set for January in Honolulu. von Oelhoffen, a Hawaiian, was an All-Big Sky defensive tackle as a Bronco senior in 1993 before being drafted in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals the following spring. He then embarked on a 14-year NFL career with four teams. von Oelhoffen played in 198 games and recorded 26.5 sacks, peaking in 2005 when he earned a Super Bowl ring as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks.
Idaho’s quest to reach bowl eligibility in its final season in the FBS is touch-and-go at best. The Vandals are 2-3, so they need to go 4-3 the rest of the way to hit the standard. If you go by the Sagarin Ratings, Idaho would be favored in just one of its final six games—at home against Coastal Carolina. But right now it’s a tossup between the Vandals and Georgia State in Atlanta at the end of the season, and they’d be one-point underdogs versus Louisiana-Monroe in the Kibbie Dome (that’s a winnable game). So if those three games fell into place, Idaho would need one victory from the group that includes Appalachian State, Missouri, Troy and New Mexico State. Conclusion: Saturday’s game against App State in Moscow is huge.
Has the College of Idaho defense come of age? In this, the fourth season since the revival of the Coyotes program, there has been some new ground broken. The Yotes, who won 21-6 at Carroll College last Saturday, yielded the fewest points since a victory over Lewis & Clark by the same score in 1975. It was a particularly sweet day for Nate Moore, the former Mountain View Maverick who transferred to C of I from Carroll in 2014. Moore logged his 10th career interception on the final play of the first half while also making eight tackles and adding four pass break ups on the day. The Yotes return to Simplot Stadium Saturday to host Montana Western.
In its preseason men’s basketball prospectus, Boise State calls them a “three-headed monster.” The Broncos hope they rise as such this season from the floor of Taco Bell Arena. Last season, Boise State used the big-man rotation of David Wacker, Zach Haney and Robin Jorch, who combined to average 11.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Now all three are juniors with bigger expectations for 2017-18. The 6-11 Haney had some big moments last winter, including 19 points in a win over San Diego State, while the 6-10 Wacker posted four games in double-figures. Jorch’s season highs both came in early December at Evansville with 12 points and eight rebounds. The 6-11 Jorch averaged a foul every five minutes last season.
A year from now, the ECHL division in which the Idaho Steelheads reside, currently called the Mountain Division, will bear absolutely no resemblance to the one they played in three seasons ago. The ECHL Board of Governors has approved the Colorado Eagles’ request to withdraw from the ECHL at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season in order to move to the AHL and enter into an affiliation with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. The departure of the defending Kelly Cup champions will leave Utah as the last of the Steelies’ divisional foes remaining from the 2014-15 campaign. Bakersfield, Ontario and Stockton all moved to the AHL in 2015, and the Alaska Aces folded at the end of last season.
This Day In Sports…October 11, 1975:
The University of Idaho dedicates the Kibbie Dome with a game against rival Boise State. The arena had functioned for several years as “New Idaho Stadium” before the roof was added—it came about thanks to a donation from William Kibbie and contributions from student fees. On the field that day, the Broncos and Vandals tied, 31-31. Then on this day in 1980, Cedric Minter went over the 4,000-yard mark in career rushing and scored four touchdowns in a 44-21 Boise State win over Idaho at Bronco Stadium.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)