Avoiding the past, embracing the future

To Boise State now, it’s all like those adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons: “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.” Mountain West champions. Fiesta Bowl champs. To Boise State now, it’s all like those adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons: “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.” The Broncos open fall camp today, and the memories of the hardware from last season are intentionally distant. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” coach Bryan Harsin said at his inaugural camp press conference. “I’ve said that, and I mean it.” That doesn’t mean there’s not excitement around the Bleymaier Football Center. “Being around today, there’s a great vibe,” said Harsin. He was asked at what stage of fall camp would the the game plan for Washington be plugged in. “About eight weeks ago,” Harsin grinned.

Harsin had some roster news. Injuries will keep center Marcus Henry and defensive tackle Armand Nance out of the beginning of fall camp, but Harsin said both will finish. Offensive tackle Eli McCullough, however, won’t be with the Broncos at all due to a medical retirement. The former Rocky Mountain High star, who started at Air Force last year and took first-team reps in the spring in Rees Odhiambo’s absence, was with the team for summer conditioning but wasn’t cleared for camp. It’s a pity we won’t be seeing his dad standing up in the stands anymore to say, “That’s my boy!”

There were no new revelations in the race to replace Grant Hedrick as Boise State’s starting quarterback this season. Harsin went through the “pecking order” he lined out at Mountain West Media Days, beginning with sophomore Ryan Finley. “They all have to take another step, because they’re all young,” said Harsin. On Tommy Stuart: “Tommy has just flipped the switch.” On Alex Ogle: “We’ll find out what he’s learned from spring to fall.” On Brett Rypien: “Because he has stats and all that, everybody assumes, ‘This is the guy.’ And he might be. But he’s got to go out there and prove that. This is a different game.”

Fall camp is a big fat moment of truth for Boise State’s incoming freshmen. Which true freshmen will play out of the gate will be determined in these next three grueling weeks. There’s one Bronco position group that may need a true freshman or two this season: the secondary. “We need to develop depth,” said Harsin. “It’s probably young guys that are going to do that.” Behind a potentially stellar starting group of Donte Deayon, Jonathan Moxey, Darian Thompson and Dylan Sumner-Gardner, there are precious few proven reinforcements.. Will any of these freshman names resonate come December? You have cornerbacks Ladarryl Blair, Donzale Roddie and Tyler Horton, and safeties Darreon Jackson, Evan Tyler and Damion Wright.

Does this warm your ol’ heart, or what? Kellen Moore took some first-team quarterback reps in practice for the Detroit Lions on Tuesday and even threw a touchdown pass during a red-zone drill to Megatron, superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson. It ain’t over yet in the race for the backup spot behind Matthew Stafford, as the former Boise State great battles Dan Orlovsky. “Johnson expressed confidence in Moore after practice—kind of,” according to ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein. “But Johnson would prefer he didn’t see him in games because it would mean an injury to Stafford. ‘Not that I don’t want good things for Kellen, but I don’t want that to happen,’ Johnson said. ‘We need Matt in there. Not that Kellen can’t come in and do the job. We are fully confident in him.’”

Jay Ajayi was known as a pretty good pass protector during his three-year stay at Boise State. That apparently has not yet panned out in Miami. A biting article yesterday by Kevin Patra at NFL.com talked about a widely-held view that Ajayi, a fifth-rounder in May, was one of the steals of the NFL Draft. He isn’t trending that way in training camp. Writes Patra, “First he has to get on the field, which according to Dolphins VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, he won’t do without vast improvements in pass protecting. ‘There are things we like about (Ajayi), but if he can’t pass protect, he will never be active,’ Tannenbaum said Tuesday, per the Miami Herald. ‘I don’t care how talented he is between the tackles. If Jay Ajayi can’t pass protect, he won’t be active.’” The message is clear, do you think?

Troy Merritt is, of course, coming off his first PGA Tour victory. But none of the experts at PGATour.com have the former Boise State star in the top four projections heading into the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational today in Akron, OH. One calls the Bridgestone a “big boy event,” another says “Firestone is a major-style golf course,” and his four picks are “major-style players.” That doesn’t mean they feel Merritt’s win was an aberration, but there will indeed be a different kind of spotlight on him now. There’s something waiting for Merritt on Sunday, as there’s no cut in the Bridgetone. Fellow former Bronco Graham DeLaet, meanwhile, is off again this week in advance of the PGA Championship.

After the All-Star Game in the majors, they talk about teams starting the “second half.” For the Boise Hawks, it’s more like the stretch run as the season resumes tonight in Hillsboro. With 31 games left in the season, Boise is 17-28, and 3-4 in second-half standings. Only 12 home games remain, thanks to the annual Western Idaho Fair road trip. The Hawks return home Sunday night—even though the season’s been disappointing on the field, it’s been great at the gate. They’re averaging 2,968 fans per game, sixth in the eight-team Northwest League but a quantum leap over where they’ve been in recent years. The Hawks drew 4,012 last Saturday night, their second crowd of 4,000-plus this season.

Former Hawk Zach Godley got caught up in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ numbers game and was optioned to Double-A Mobile yesterday. Yes, the D-Backs had to use the roster spot for a reliever, but it’s still a head-scratcher. Godley is just the second pitcher in club history to win in his first three outings after throwing six shutout innings in a 6-4 victory over Washington on Monday night. He was 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA. “We run into that situation a lot where you do what you have to do, not what you want to do,” Arizona chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.

The 2015 Summer BAM Jam is set for Saturday and Saturday around Capitol Park in Downtown Boise. Among the feature players in the 8th annual event are former Boise State standout Coby Karl and one-time Ole Miss Rebel Will Bogan. Karl is on the Walking Buckets roster alongside former Broncos Rob Heyer and Mark Sanchez and Boise State assistant coach John Rillie, a legend of sorts in Australia. Karl would be the first NBA player to participate in BAM Jam. He played for the L.A. Lakers during the 2007-08 season and with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009. Bogan was an all-state player and state champion at Vallivue High. He was at Ole Miss for three years before becoming a graduate transfer at Valparaiso, where he started 62 of 68 games. Bogan is playing for Unlimited Range.

KTVB.com Mountain West Nugget of the Day: Here’s more on the MW’s current makeup. Of the six remaining charter members of the conference, only San Diego State has won a football championship in the past 12 years. That came in 2012, when the Aztecs shared the crown with Boise State and Fresno State. Colorado State won the title in 2002 and 2000 and shared it with BYU and Utah in the Mountain West’s first year in 1999. Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV and Wyoming have never won a Mountain West football championship.

This Day In Sports…August 6, 2010, five years ago today:

Boise State lands its highest preseason ranking ever in the USA Today Coaches Poll, coming in at No. 5 behind Alabama, Ohio State, Florida and Texas. It was also the highest preseason spot in history for a non-BCS school. The Broncos had finished the previous season with their highest ranking of any kind: No. 4 after going undefeated and beating TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. Just as significant that day was where the Broncos’ season-opening opponent was ranked—Virginia Tech was No. 6.

(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.)