It’s still early for George Holani, but it’s likely we’ll look back on his Boise State career in the future and embrace the way the story started. Holani’s impact was apparent immediately, when he was placed with the veterans in the first practice of fall camp last year. (By the time fall camp was over, prized Idaho recruit Keegan Duncan out of Declo had entered the transfer portal.) In the season opener at Florida State, Holani had one first-quarter carry. He re-entered the game midway through the second quarter and had four consecutive touches, three rushes for 15 yards and one catch on a screen pass that went for 22. At the end of the 36-31 comeback win, Holani had netted 70 yards on 14 carries and 33 yards on two receptions. And at the end of the season, of course, he had rushed for 1,014 yards.
RUNNING BACK IN THE BULLPEN?
Andrew Van Buren is the only other running back listed on Boise State’s depth chart and—according to coaches—is poised to become the punishing back he always promised to be. Van Buren was up and down last season, peaking with an 85-yard night at San Jose State that included a 32-yard touchdown run. But there’s one guy who’s always on standby. It’s star wide receiver Khalil Shakir, whose first touch as a Bronco in 2018 actually came on a rushing attempt at Troy. He lined up as a tailback at one point in his second game. Shakir’s first touchdown on the ground came on a pylon-pickin’ dive at Wyoming. In two seasons, he has 33 carries for 136 yards and four TDs.
DUNCAN CHANGES SIDES AFTER CHANGING SIDES
Whatever happened to the aforementioned Keegan Duncan? His departure was a jolt, as Duncan seemed ticketed to be the Broncos’ next Idahoan to go from small town to stardom (a la Leighton Vander Esch). After leaving Boise State, he transferred to Utah State last fall and redshirted there. So he’s slated to be on the blue turf for his first college game—in an Aggies uniform. Duncan is also on a different side of the ball, as he’s now an inside linebacker. It’s not unfamiliar territory for the former two-time Idaho 2A Player of the Year, as he played both ways at Declo High. As a senior, Duncan made 67 tackles and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He is not on USU’s depth chart this week.
There are no returning starters on the Boise State defensive line this season, but two of the new starters are certainly returning contributors. Now listed as a defensive end, Demitri Washington was even more impressive than Curtis Weaver at the STUD position down the stretch last season, logging four sacks in the final five games. He seems to understand the opportunity staring him in the face. “Demitri has been outstanding in so many ways,” said coach Bryan Harsin. “He is constantly in here in the film room, he is doing everything he possibly can to be the very best player he can be. Ced Wilson was that way, Demitri is that way.”
Nose tackle Scale Igiehon has shown glimpses of excellence the past two seasons. Harsin expects more. “When Scale’s going, I love Scale,” Harsin said. “When he’s on, watch out.” You can read between those lines. The Broncos need Igiehon to be all-in on every snap. Examples of Igiehon when he’s “going” include one of the biggest tackles of the year in 2018, when he helped sack BYU quarterback Zach Wilson on the final play of the game to preserve a 21-16 victory on the blue turf. And last year versus Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl, Igiehon was one of Boise State’s few bright spots, generally getting the best of Huskies center Nick Harris, a future NFL Draft pick.
SEEKING TWO FULL SETS
Is there enough depth to rotate two defensive lines, as the Broncos were so fond of doing 10 years ago (and successfully so)? According to the ol’ depth chart, the No. 2 guys are junior college transfer Shane Irwin at defensive end, Rocky Mountain grad Keeghan Freeborn at nose tackle, Utah transfer Jackson Cravens at defensive tackle, and Isaiah Bagnah or Casey Kline at the STUD. Only the coaching staff knows if they’re ready—the group has combined for one career tackle at Boise State.
THE DREADED MW PRESS RELEASE
We didn’t even make it through Tuesday of Game Week before the Mountain West announced that a game has been canceled—Saturday’s New Mexico-Colorado State game in Fort Collins—with no plans to reschedule the game. Therefore, it is a no contest. Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque is located, has what the conference describes as a “prevalence of the COVID-19 virus.” Just so you know, Bernalillo County has had 9,066 coronavirus cases compared to Ada County’s 15,215. But it’s more about state of New Mexico guidelines and cases within the Lobos football program, preventing UNM from holding full practices the past week. Notice has been served, though.
KELLEN AND TUA
KTVB’s Jay Tust dug up this Kellen Moore-oriented piece of trivia. Former Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa made his NFL debut last Sunday for Miami and went 2-of-2 for nine yards in the Dolphins’ win over the Jets. With that, Tagovailoa became the first lefthanded quarterback to throw a pass in a regular season NFL game since Moore started his final game for the Cowboys on January 3, 2016. And, of course, Tagovailoa’s going to throw a lot more, as on Tuesday he was named Miami’s starter moving forward.
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October 21, 2000, 20 years ago today: Boise State opens the final season of Big West play with a 59-0 annihilation of North Texas, the Broncos’ first shutout in 13 years. Boise State outgained the Mean Green 583 yards to 162, with freshman tailback David Mikell rushing for 122 yards and three touchdowns—and freshman quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie throwing the first of his 82 career touchdown passes. The Broncos would go unbeaten in the Big West on their way to a second straight title and Humanitarian Bowl championship.
(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.)