The healing benefits of having 3½ weeks off are at least some consolation to Boise State. The healing benefits of having last week (and the next two weeks) off are at least some consolation to Boise State. The Broncos would rather have been playing through pain against San Diego State in the Mountain West championship game over the weekend, but this down time will help them in the Poinsettia Bowl against Northern Illinois. Coach Bryan Harsin said yesterday that seniors Shane Williams-Rhodes and Darian Thompson are expected to be ready to go against the Huskies. SWR has been out since early in the New Mexico game with a bad ankle. Thompson has missed the last two games due to concussion symptoms.
Wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck has sore bones, and the rest will probably bring back his vertical threat in Qualcomm Stadium. By the end of Boise State’s win at San Jose State 10 days ago, Sperbeck was peeling himself off the turf very slowly. Harsin did say, however, that quarterback Ryan Finley and safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner will not be healthy enough to play in the Poinsettia Bowl. Both are expected to receive medical redshirts. Those can be granted by the NCAA to players who are injured before they’ve played in 30 percent of their team’s games. Finley had played in three games and Sumner-Gardner four before being sidelined. Boise State notes that in DSG’s case, “30 percent of 12 games—what the NCAA classifies as a full football season—is 3.6. Since you can’t play in 3.6 football games, they round up to four.”
Of course, the layoff will help Northern Illinois, too. The Huskies won’t get first-string quarterback Drew Hare back. Hare suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in NIU’s upset of Toledo on November 3. Veteran backup Anthony Maddie had already been lost for the season in September after having back surgery. Redshirt freshman Ryan Graham was next. Graham finished the win over Toledo and led victories over Buffalo and Western Michigan before injuring his leg in a loss to Ohio on November 24. Another redshirt freshman, walk-on Tommy Fiedler, had to take over in the MAC championship game loss to Bowling Green and threw for just 152 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. But Graham is expected back for the bowl. The easiest way to evaluate Graham is in pass efficiency rating—144.0 versus 137.5 for Boise State’s Brett Rypien.
The Boise State team banquet Sunday marked a last hurrah with the program for Byron Hout and Matt Miller—at least for now. Coach Bryan Harsin announced that Hout and Miller have been hired as assistants at Montana State by new coach Jeff Choate, the former longtime Bronco staffer. MSU hasn’t announced the moves yet, but Hout will likely end up as defensive line coach. Miller, who hails from Helena and is headed home, would probably work with wide receivers (why not?), but he’d be capable of helping out at another position.
Speaking of guys returning, there’s still a lot that’s up in the air for Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Coach Matt Wells said yesterday the Aggies will have to get into practice this week before they determine the status of quarterbacks Chuckie Keeton and Kent Myers. The injury-plagued Keeton was hurt again in USU’s loss at Washington in September and didn’t return full-time until a 31-27 win over Nevada 2½ weeks ago. And he wasn’t very effective in that game—nor the 51-28 loss to BYU in the regular season finale. Myers, who started the bulk of the season, was injured against the Wolf Pack and missed the game against the Cougars.
Utah State’s opponent, Akron, professes to be uber-excited about the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl opportunity—only its second bowl game ever—if you listen to coach Terry Bowden. “This is a culmination of a really special season,” said Bowden yesterday. He’s also become a big fan of MAC football, especially after the strong season the conference had. “Football still has a regional personality to it,” Bowden said. “The MAC really is a meat-and-potatoes, blue collar conference. You have to be around it to really appreciate it.”
The clamor for former Boise State great Kellen Moore in Dallas may cool somewhat now, as Matt Cassel went the distance in the Cowboys’ 19-16 win at Washington last night. Cassel was serviceable enough to last another week as Dallas’ starting quarterback, going 16-of-29 for 222 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Moore, in his No. 17 uniform, watched from the sidelines in a stocking cap. Former Bronco standout Demarcus Lawrence had a big game for the Cowboys, logging two sacks of Washington QB Kirk Cousins. Another BSU product, Tyrone Crawford, added three tackles.
Former Boise State star Austin Pettis is hoping for another chance with the San Diego Chargers, who lost wide receiver Dontrelle Inman to a helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday. Pettis worked out with the Chargers yesterday. He spent the past four seasons with the Rams, who drafted him in the third round in 2011. After being cut loose by St. Louis late last year, Pettis joined San Diego and was with the Chargers in training camp and the preseason until the team’s final roster cutdown.
With David Wacker gone, now we’ll find out how—or if—6-11 Zach Haney and 6-10 Robin Jorch fit into Boise State’s rotation inside. Wacker, the 6-10 forward, is out indefinitely after suffering a broken bone and a strain in his left foot during practice last week. Big men and foot injuries—never a good combination. If you consider Ryan Finley’s and Dylan Sumner-Gardner’s formula above, maybe Wacker has a shot at a medical redshirt this season. Like DSG, Wacker played as a true freshman and was injured early in his sophomore year. Even without him in the Broncos’ 81-71 win at Portland Saturday night, coach Leon Rice played Haney only six minutes and Jorch five. Haney pulled down three rebounds in his brief stint. Boise State begins a five-game homestand tomorrow night against Loyola Marymount.
The “amazing game of the week” in the Mountain West was San Diego State versus San Diego outdoors Sunday at Petco Park, home of the Padres. Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune said the 2 p.m. game “was over at 1:57” when the highly-rated Aztecs “sauntered in, walking slowly, detached, like they couldn’t be bothered with a basketball game on a balmy Sunday afternoon.” The woeful Torreros proceeded to stun SDSU 53-48. Wrote Zeigler, “It’s what happens when you take entitled four- and five-star recruits that already can’t shoot and put them outdoors in the elements. They shoot 3-of-20 in the first half and score 13 points. They let an undersized, unathletic team get eight offensive rebounds in the first half (to their one).” A black eye for Mountain West hoops. The Aztecs beat NAIA Biola last night, 73-53.
Boise State men’s tennis coach Greg Patton led the U.S. team for the eighth time over the weekend at the Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate team competition in Rennes, France. The event featured eight teams composed of college players from around the world. And the Americans won, beating France 4-1 Sunday to take their sixth title in the past seven years. The U.S. survived a team match point in the semifinals against Germany before going on to defeat the French.
This Day In Sports…December 8, 2003:
Nick Holt is introduced as the 31st head football coach at the University of Idaho. Holt was linebackers coach at USC and was a Vandal assistant for eight years in the 1990’s. His assignment was to turn around a program that had lost 30 of its last 36 games under fired coach Tom Cable. Holt signed a four-year contract, yet to find out who his bosses would be in the athletic director’s and president’s chairs—and what conference his team would play in. He returned to USC a little over two years later after going 5-18.
(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.)