Boise State football: ‘Twas the week before Christmas

In the two years since the NCAA created December’s early signing period, Boise State football has fared well. Commitments grow as the fall progresses, and almost all of them sign when that third Wednesday of the month comes. The Broncos had 13 verbals for the 2020 recruiting class 24 hours ago, and they picked up two more silent commits during the day on Tuesday. “HUGE GET!!” tweeted Darren Uscher, Boise State’s Director of Recruiting. Coach Bryan Harsin told B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press he expects to sign “12-13 players (today), potentially more if things go right.” Is one of the silent commits a quarterback? The Broncos are unwrapping their gifts today.

LAST GO-ROUND FOR THIS OLD BRONCO TIE?

Everybody’s been treading softly around the former Boise State players and coaches on the Washington coaching staff since the Las Vegas Bowl matchup was announced. All those guys in Seattle are generally beloved here, including Washington offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan. It was Hamdan who started in place of Kellen Moore on Senior Night on the blue turf in 2008–then suffered a heartbreaking pick-six before giving way to Moore. The Huskies offense has felt similarly unsettling this year, ranked 74th in the country with an average of 395 yards per game. They don’t tread softly in Seattle. Dave “Softy” Mahler of KJR said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk he expects newly-promoted coach Jimmy Lake to let Hamdan go. UW watchers think Lake needs to make a statement on the future of the offense.

EASON’S TELL-TALE AUDITION

Jacob Eason’s day in the Las Vegas Bowl Saturday should be fairly intriguing. That may determine whether or not the Washington quarterback leaves early for the NFL Draft. Eason, the transfer from Georgia who was National Gatorade Player of the Year four years ago, a five-star prospect and the No. 1 recruit in the country, has been maddeningly inconsistent this season. Eason threw for just 162 yards in a September loss to Cal, while the capper was a stunning defeat at Stanford in October: 16-of-36 for 206 yards and one touchdown with one interception. On the other hand, he was 23-of-30 for 289 yards and three TDs in the Huskies’ near-upset of Oregon and also had a monster game in UW’s win at BYU. Which Eason will Boise State get?

SPORTING NEWS NOTICED THE SACKS

Curtis Weaver strikes again. The Boise State star is a first-team Sporting News All-American. It’s his third first-team All-America nod. ESPN Insider Todd McShay’s first 2020 mock draft is out, and Weaver is not only projected as a first-rounder, he’s all the way up at No. 20 overall, going to the Miami Dolphins. Writes McShay: “It makes the most sense, considering the range, value and need, to go with an edge rusher here for Miami’s second pick. Weaver is extremely productive—13.5 sacks this season—and one of the more underrated talents in the class. Stacking him next to 2019 top pick Christian Wilkins is certainly a good place to start in rebuilding the defensive line.” One game left for Weaver.

LOGICAL CHOICE IN THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

He was the odds-on favorite, and now he’s Fresno State’s new head coach. After one year as offensive coordinator at Indiana, Kalen DeBoer is returning to the Bulldogs. DeBoer was productive for the Hoosiers, who have won eight games this season for the first time in 26 years. The Fresno State staff probably had a hunch this was going to happen, and it’s been out recruiting as normal ahead of today’s early-signing day. DeBoer was offensive coordinator when Jeff Tedford resurrected the program in 2017-18. Now that Tedford has retired, this choice gives the Bulldogs some much-desired stability. We can only assume DeBoer wants to keep former Boise State standout Kirby Moore as his wide receivers coach.

ANOTHER JOB FILLED, ANOTHER TRANSFER PORTAL ENTRY

Fresno State’s recruiting class will survive the late hiring of DeBoer today. As for New Mexico, which doesn’t have strong recruiting classes to start with, it’ll be Arizona State defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales trying to hold things together. Gonzales takes over for Bob Davie, who left the Lobos at an all-time low in fan support. But Gonzales is a respected DC and a UNM alum. There’ll definitely be a new starting quarterback at Wyoming next year, as Tyler Vander Waal has entered the transfer portal. Presumably he saw the writing on the wall with the return of sophomore-to-be Sean Chambers from his November knee injury. And will Jordan Love really play for Utah State Friday night in the Frisco Bowl? Love and three other Aggies were charged with marijuana possession on the USU campus Saturday night.

HEAT TEMPORARILY OFF IN ‘BIG D’

Dallas fans are generally backing off the Kellen Moore barbs this week after the Cowboys dominated the L.A. Rams Sunday 44-21. Moore is getting high marks for going back to a run-heavy attack, as Dallas rushed for 263 yards, including 131 from Tony Pollard and 117 from Ezekiel Elliott. But the Cowboys defense was just as resurgent as it continues to operate without former Boise State star Tyrone Crawford, who’s been out for 2½ months. ESPN tweeted this update: “Defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford is two weeks out from his second surgery on both hips to repair labral tears and he said he should be back for the offseason program. The hope was rest and rehab in the offseason would alleviate the issue, but Crawford said he never felt right in the four games he played before going on injured reserve.”

KIGAB FINALLY IN THE CLEAR

Bronco Nation can get to know Abu Kigab now that he’s finally eligible to play for Boise State. Kigab will make his debut Sunday when the Broncos open the Diamond Head Classic against Georgia Tech in Honolulu. The transfer from Oregon has a year and a half of eligibility remaining. Kigab was a four-star recruit coming out of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, making the Canadian national team that played at the 2017 U19 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt, and helping Canada to its first FIBA U19 World Cup gold medal. But Kigab never gained much traction at Oregon, averaging just 15 minutes, 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10 games for the Ducks last season before deciding to transfer.

SPORTS SHORTS

The Boise State women stay in tune with an exhibition today. It’s a 2 p.m. matinee against Western Oregon in ExtraMile Arena. The Broncos are making a subtle push to get senior Jayde Christopher’s name added to the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard. Christopher leads the nation with 97 total assists and has been in double-digits in seven of Boise State’s nine games this season. And the Idaho Steelheads are on the other side of the country to face the Norfolk Admirals for the first time in two years in a three-game series starting tonight. These will be the Steelheads’ first road games in more than a month.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by HARMON TRAVEL…go bowling with the Broncos!

December 18, 1981: A year after a last-second victory over SMU, Brigham Young holds off Washington State 38-36 to secure back-to-back wins at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Tom Holmoe (current BYU athletic director) intercepted a WSU pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to give BYU a comfortable 31-7 advantage in the third quarter, but a revitalized Wazzu scored 29 points in the second half to close the gap. BYU’s Jim McMahon, the nation’s leading passer, threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns to help stymie the WSU comeback.

(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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