Since the delayed Boise State season is scheduled to start a week from Saturday night against Utah State, this is my last Friday edition of Road Warriors. I hope. With 29 college football games (this just in: it’s now 31) having already been postponed or canceled by COVID-19 problems, I’ll keep the series in my back pocket. There’s no telling how the next eight weeks will go in the Mountain West. Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I won’t be reminiscing about the Broncos’ 2006 rout of Utah in Salt Lake City a week from today.
Today’s Road Warriors salute to the biggest road wins in Boise State history takes us to December 23, 2003. Yes, it was a bowl game, but it was on the opponent’s home field. Boise State’s first out-of-town postseason game as a Division I-A school was an unlikely matchup with another Top 25 team in the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl. The Broncos fell behind TCU 21-7 in the second quarter but rallied to tie it at halftime. Then Ryan Dinwiddie threw the 82nd and final touchdown pass of his Boise State career, an 18-yard fourth quarter fade to true freshman tight end Derek Schouman, to cap a 34-31 win. Dinwiddie passed for 325 yards and three TD’s to earn MVP honors, while T.J. Acree took ESPN’s Player of the Game nod with 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.
JALEN WALKER, COACHABLE SENIOR
Jalen Walker met with the media Thursday and said when he first arrived at Boise State, he thought he had it all figured out. And it looked at first like he did, getting a spot start in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon and playing well. But Walker admitted he wasn’t coachable until cornerbacks coach Jalil Brown arrived in 2019, bringing with him six seasons of NFL experience. “He was telling me certain things, and I wouldn’t listen,” Walker said. “And then the thing that he said would happen.” Brown called him on it, and Walker improved as the season progressed last year, making bigger plays and committing fewer penalties. “You’ve really got to give (Brown) all your trust—he’s seen it all.”
Walker is driven. He was second-team All-Mountain West last season. His reaction? “Thanks, I appreciate it, but that wasn’t good enough for me.” Then he wasn’t a factor in voting for the 2020 preseason all-conference team. There’s one way he can make his point this season. “I need to be a better ball-hawk this year,” said Walker. He had nine pass breakups in 2019 but only one interception. It was a big one, though, a 15-yard pick-six against Utah State, the team the Broncos open against a week from Saturday night.
ANOTHER RIVAL-WATCHING FRIDAY
It would appear that BYU’s best chance at a stumble before its November 6 visit to the blue turf would be tonight at Houston. It’s an odd scene. Lee Sterling of Paramount Sports was on KTIK’s Idaho SportsTalk Thursday and said the game “could have national championship implications.” I don’t know about that. The Houston version of the Cougars has played only one game (a win over Tulane). BYU’s Cougars are 4-0, but the resume reads Navy, Troy, Louisiana Tech and UTSA. That has led to a No. 14 AP ranking, their best in six years—and a lot of doubters. The Deseret News reports that there will be “a smattering of 10,000 or so spectators at TDECU Stadium tonight, marking the first time this season BYU will play with people in the seats.
RYPIEN’S NO. 2 – THAT’S BETTER THAN NO. 4
Denver quarterback Drew Lock was a full participant in practice Wednesday for the first time since a shoulder injury sidelined at Pittsburgh on September 20. That was a sure indication that Brett Rypien is going to be robbed of a great opportunity Sunday. The Broncos’ delayed game at New England was supposed to be played on Monday this week, in which case Rypien would have started. But it was pushed back a second time due to the coronavirus, and the writing’s on the wall: the Boise State product is headed back to the bench. The silver lining is the new role Rypien finds himself in. It’s the bench—not the practice squad. He appears to be the No. 2 QB in Denver, ahead of Jeff Driskel and Blake Bortles.
THE DEUCE MIGHT BE THE ACE ON SUNDAY
Alexander Mattison is in line for his first NFL start on Sunday, as Dalvin Cook’s groin injury is unlikely to allow him to go for Minnesota against Atlanta. Cook sees Mattison as the sequel. That’s why he calls him Deuce. “He might be me, I don’t know,” Cook said, laughing as he met with the media this week. “I try to give Deuce as many tips and everything I can. He sees the field how I see the field. It’s crazy when we come off the field how we see things so similar. He’s just a bigger version. When he comes in, he’s trying to break the home run, too.” The former Boise State star came on after Cook sustained his injury in the third quarter at Seattle on Sunday Night Football. Mattison ended up with his first career 100-yard game—112 yards on 20 carries.
TWO BETWEEN THE PIPES
The Idaho Steelheads have a second goaltender in the fold for the 2020-21 season (I guess now we just call it the 2021 campaign, since it starts in January). It’s Matt Jurusik, who joins the Steelheads after a two-year collegiate stint with Michigan Tech University, a perennial power in Division I hockey with three NCAA champiinships. In 57 games for the Huskies, Jurusik had a 2.28 GAA and a .917 save percentage. He’s the 16th player under contract for the upcoming season and second goaltender, joining Jake Kupsky.
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October 16, 2015, five years ago today: Utah State breaks a 12-game losing streak to Boise State with a 52-26 rout of the 21st-ranked Broncos in Logan. The Broncos coughed up seven first-half turnovers, the most in a half by an FBS team in 10 years, and eight for the game, the most by a Broncos team in 26 years. The Aggies scored three touchdowns in the last 1½ minutes of the first half alone and took a 45-10 lead into the break. It marked the first trek into adversity for Boise State true freshman Brett Rypien, who threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles. The Broncos haven’t lost to USU since.
(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.)