After about eight months of buildup, the Boise State-Washington game was over in the blink of an eye. After about eight months of buildup—the return of Coach Pete to the blue turf to face the team that went back to the Fiesta Bowl without him last year—it was over in the blink of an eye. It added up to three hours and 15 minutes of intensity that is suddenly history. Boise State’s 16-13 win over Washington last Friday couldn’t be any more in the rear view mirror now, with a crucial game at BYU now four days away. References to the victory over UW are now in the context of what they mean moving forward. There will be no more Chris Petersen angles to ponder.
What does the defensive effort that held the Huskies to 179 yards total offense mean? To defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, it means confidence. Yates compares it to the opener a year ago at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta. “I don’t think that defense thought they could win the Ole Miss game on defense,” said Yates yesterday. “ I think this year they felt like they actually could. Same players, but just a year later, just a different mentality within the group.” Coach Bryan Harsin was impressed with the unit’s intestinal fortitude. “The two turnovers and the blocked punt, that’s where I focus more on the defensive side,” Harsin said. “What’s going to happen? They put it on themselves, and they got it done.”
Last year Boise State had a one-pronged rushing attack (in the form of now-injured Miami Dolphin Jay Ajayi). This year it was looking like a two-pronged attack at the outset with Jeremy McNichols and Kelsey Young. Considering the flashes of Devan Demas we saw against Washington, I asked Harsin yesterday if there might be a third prong to the ground game. “I think Devan, to me, showed some really good ability come game time of just making things happen,” Harsin said. “Because of that, there’s probably more opportunities for him.” Demas lost two yards on his first carry but busted off a 13-yarder on his second attempt and finished with five carries for 20 yards. There were questions about his role after spring football, but he rebounded nicely in fall camp.
Unfortunately, the Mangum family did not split up Saturday. Mom and Dad were in Pocatello watching Madison Mangum, a Timberline High product, make an unbelievable one-handed touchdown catch in Idaho State’s 55-0 rout of Black Hills State. It is worth a Google. It was one of the great plays of the weekend, but it was trumped by brother Tanner in Lincoln, NE. That Mangum, of course, became a national highlight sensation with his Hail Mary touchdown pass on the final play of the BYU-Nebraska game, giving the Cougars a 33-28 win. Mangum had replaced BYU’s snakebitten star quarterback Taysom Hill, who is out for the season with what is now diagnosed as a Lisfranc injury. The reins now belong to Mangum, the Eagle High grad, who gets to face his old hometown team this Saturday night in his first collegiate start.
From Heather Dinich of ESPN.com and her column headlined, “How might the CFP committee view Week 1?” We’ll cut to the chase. “Overreaction: There’s no way a team from the Group of 5 will ever be in the playoff. Appropriate reaction: Boise State has a chance. After BYU’s Hail Mary win over Nebraska, Boise State’s road trip to BYU is even more meaningful. If the Broncos can start out 2-0 against two decent teams, they’re likely to be favored in every remaining game. If Boise State can finish the season undefeated, you’d better believe the selection committee will be giving it serious consideration for a top-4 spot. Believe it. The reality of the situation is that the Broncos’ strength of schedule would likely leave them out, but what if they’re up against two-loss conference champs? It’s a debate the committee couldn’t—and wouldn’t—ignore.”
The rest of the Mountain West weekend revealed two things: Wyoming is not yet the team ultra-successful FCS coach Craig Bohl is envisioning. And UNLV may be buying into former high school coach Tony Sanchez’s mojo. Wyoming lost to North Dakota of the Big Sky 24-13 in Laramie. That’s the “other” school in North Dakota—just two years ago, Bohl was leading North Dakota State to its third straight FCS national championship. The Cowboys were outgained on the ground a stunning 276 yards to 41. UNLV was a 23½-point underdog in Sanchez’s debut as head coach against MAC power Northern Illinois. But the Rebels led the Huskies 17-3 late in the first half before falling 38-30 on the road. There’s optimism in Las Vegas.
It was the 52nd meeting between the College of Idaho and Pacific University Saturday, but only the last two are relevant. And man are they relevant. A year ago there was the 35-34 C of I win in the opener that marked the revival of the Coyotes program after a 37-year absence. On Saturday, the tables flipped, with Pacific rallying from a 19-point 4th-quarter deficit to get past the Yotes 32-31 at Simplot Stadium. The Boxers put together a 94-yard drive for the winning touchdown. That overshadowed a monstrous performance by C of I quarterback Teejay Gordon, who was 16-of-27 for 342 yards (21 yards per completion) and three touchdowns. That was only the third 300-yard passing game in school history—and the first since the olden days of the program in 1969.
Kellen Moore, released when the Detroit Lions pared their roster to the 53-man limit, is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. Why did Dallas sign the former Boise State great? “Kellen is just a really good football player and has been, really throughout his whole life,” coach Jason Garrett said yesterday. “He knows how to win, knows how to play. Obviously, Scott (Linehan, offensive coordinator) was with him in Detroit and had a great experience there with him—someone he’s been very fond of and we’ve been fond of since he came out of school.” He has less of a chance to see the field there than he did with the Lions, unfortunately. Elsewhere, former Bronco linebacker Blake Renaud made the Minnesota Vikings practice squad as a fullback, and Austin Pettis’ future is up in the air after he was cut by the San Diego Chargers.
What could have been for Troy Merritt over the weekend. The former Boise State star bookended a superb Saturday and Sunday with a pair of 74’s and finished tied for 39th in the second leg of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs. Merritt carded a four-under 67 and a three-under 68 in the second and third rounds, respectively. Still, he earned $33,825 and moved up one spot to No. 47 in FedExCup standings (the top 70 move on to the BMW Championship in two weeks).
The Boise Hawks’ season is over, capped by a 9-1 win Sunday night over Salem-Keizer. Third baseman Kevin Padlo was easily the star of the season for the Hawks, finishing fifth in the Northwest League in batting at .294. Padlo was third in the league with nine home runs (the last one coming in the finale) and second with 46 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. It was not a banner year for the Boise pitching staff—the best of the bunch was Javier Palacios, who was 3-3 in 12 starts with a 3.26 ERA. The Hawks finished 30-46 in their first season as a Colorado Rockies affiliate.
Catching up on Idaho Steelheads stuff: the club agreed to terms last Thursday with forward Jefferson Dahl, who joined the team midway through last season and averaged nearly a point per game. And there’s a new Voice of the Steelheads to replace Will Hoenike. He’s Brian McCormick, a 26-year-old up-and-comer who comes out of the college ranks. Training camp is just four weeks away.
This Day In Sports… September 8, 2007:
One link to the undefeated season and Fiesta Bowl championship is shattered for Boise State, as Washington breaks the Broncos’ 14-game winning streak that carried over from 2006, 24-10. The 70,000 fans in Husky Stadium included 10,000 Bronco faithful, but the blue-and-orange attendees couldn’t will their team to victory against UW and its star freshman quarterback, Jake Locker. BSU outgained the Huskies but couldn’t get it done in the red zone and turned the ball over four times. The Broncos have gone 2-1 versus Washington since.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)