Boise State football: Those elusive picks

The four turnovers Boise State picked up in its win over Hawaii are looking more like an aberration than a trend after the Broncos produced exactly zero takeaways in their loss at BYU. Boise State’s prolonged interception drought is particularly perplexing. After seven games this season, there have been just four of them. And one of those was a gimme on the final play of the Hawaii game. Heck, even last year the Broncos had five at this point before finishing with only seven. It’s a far cry from the days when picks came in bunches. For example, there was 2015, Darian Thompson’s and Donte Deayon’s senior year. There were 15 picks at this point of the season—and 22 overall that year. Boise State had 15 total interceptions two years ago.


There was no press conference Monday, so there’s no update on the status of Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier. But the feeling is that Bachmeier will be back for the game at San Jose State on November 2. No doubt he would have played at BYU if he could have. “We’re never going to take a guy and just sit him and rest him if he’s available to play,” said coach Bryan Harsin after practice last Thursday. Yes, especially with starter Chase Cord having some struggles in Provo. Cougars coach Kilani Sitake was thrilled with the two inteeceotions his guys grabbed. “We should have had three more, to tell you the truth,” said Sitake in the euphoria of the Cougars locker room.


Another Boise State injury of concern is that of running back Robert Mahone, who went down with a leg injury of some sort with 12 minutes left in the first half. Mahone had four carries for 14 yards at that point. George Holani filled in admirably with 97 yards on 20 attempts, but the Broncos could use Mahone as a complement again after the bye week. No word on Mahone’s status, either. No. 3 running back Andrew Van Buren is still not getting the touches. While Holani carried the load for the rest of the game at BYU, Van Buren ran just three times for five yards. He has only 23 carries the entire season for 72 yards and a touchdown. Remember redshirt freshman Danny Smith? He has one carry for one yard this year.


College of Idaho kicker Kyle Mitchell has been named the NAIA National Special Teams Player of the Week after his amazing game-winning boot in Saturday’s 16-14 win over Montana Tech. Mitchell had tied the C of I school record with a wind-aided 45-yarder earlier. Then on the final play of the game he broke the mark by a ridiculous 13 yards as he converted a 58-yard attempt. It was the longest field goal at any level of college football in the 2019 season. Mitchell kicked three field goals on the blustery day. Meanwhile, the 6-0 Yotes climbed one spot to No. 7 in the NAIA Coaches Poll following their 12th straight victory.


All appears to be well with former Boise State star Leighton Vander Esch after he left Dallas’ 37-10 win over Philadelphia Sunday night with what is termed a “mild neck stinger.” The Cowboys were in control when LVE went down, so they didn’t bring him back. “I would’ve kept playing if it was up to me,” Vander Esch said after the game, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. He’d been playing an LVE-type game up to that point, complete with a couple of wolf howls (although he was beaten on the Eagles’ only touchdown, a 28-yard pass from Carson Wentz to tight end Dallas Goedert). Vander Esch had three tackles, one for loss, when he was injured. Dallas, now 4-3, is off this week.


As the season approaches the halfway point, perhaps Jay Ajayi is seeing his best shot yet of catching on with an NFL team this year. Ajayi is working out with the Arizona Cardinals through today as the team seeks reinforcements for hobbled running back David Johnson, who has back, knee and ankle injuries. The former Boise State standout hasn’t played in an NFL game in more than a year now after tearing his ACL in Week 5 last season. Ajayi has 2,516 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns in his four-year career and isn’t done yet.

But this may be it for fellow former Bronco Orlando Scandrick, who was released by Philadelphia on Monday. Kellen Moore’s Cowboys offense went after him a bit Sunday night in his return to Dallas, where he spent his first 10 NFL seasons. But Pro Football Focus notes that the 32-year-old Scandrick has graded out well in his three games with the Eagles.


Utah State hoops will begin the season in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 49 years. The Aggies, with a Mountain West Championship trophy in the case and a strong returning core, were No. 17 in the preseason poll released Monday. The key character is MW Preseason Player of the Year Sam Merrill. USU begins with an exhibition game a week from Wednesday against none other than College of Idaho. And in case you missed it, the schedule is out for the first Mountain West-Atlantic 10 Challenge Series in 2020. Boise State has drawn Rhode Island on the road on December 5 of next year. The series features 10 games over six days.


After posting two more shutouts over the weekend, Boise State women’s soccer goalie Sydney Smith is the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in the past four weeks. Smith broke school records with her 14th win of the season and her 11th shutout during a sweep of Wyoming and Colorado State. The Broncos have a one-game lead over San Diego State, so if they sweep Colorado College and Air Force Friday and Sunday at the Boas Complex, they’ll clinch the Mountain West regular season title and will host the MW Tournament next week.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by LIKE NU CAR WASH…Boise’s best exterior wash!

October 22, 2011: Donning gray jerseys to abide by its new conference’s ban on all-blue uniforms on the blue turf in league games, Boise State beats Air Force 37-26 in its first home appearance in a Mountain West matchup. The sellout crowd gave the Falcons a respectful welcome for the first-ever meeting between the two teams. And the Air Force option offense was more than respectable, staying with the Broncos thanks to 264 rushing yards. But the Boise State offense was classicly efficient on only 55 plays, with Kellen Moore throwing for 281 yards and three touchdowns as he tied Colt McCoy for all-time wins by a college quarterback with 45.

(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.)

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