Hey, players are people, too

Every once in a while, the horses need to be reined in. Apparently the online vitriol from fans following Boise State’s loss to San Diego State has gotten a little personal toward some Bronco players. It becomes disillusioning for players’ parents and families. One mom contributed this yesterday: “I do have to tell you all I am a bit disappointed. Part of why we sent him to Boise was the fan base. We thought you were die hard and a family atmosphere…and he couldn’t wait to be part of it. I can’t tell you all about mistakes, etc…but I can tell you from the back end of things, and from the recruiting side, (Bryan) Harsin and (Zak) Hill run a class act. Better than any other D1 school we dealt with. I have fallen absolutely in love with Boise.”

She continues: “My son eats sleeps and lives for that team and his teammates. It’s almost a 24-hour job for him. He takes it extremely seriously. They all do. I know you all get disappointed and fans are passionate…but I was told that Boise is a big town with a small town atmosphere. This is your team and these are your boys. Boise has an incredible history of winning. That hasn’t changed. Boise and Idaho have alot to be proud of.” By mid-afternoon yesterday, her post had almost 400 likes and positive comments. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of what these guys are really all about.

If there’s criticism out there, coach Bryan Harsin can take it. And when it comes to the Boise State running game, he understands it. “Right now, we’re no good at it,” Harsin said at his Monday presser. “For our standards, we’re no good at it. We have a lot of football left—it better change.” The Broncos rushed for 400 yards against UConn last month; they’ve netted just 357 yards combined in their other four games (and only 2.5 yards per carry). Harsin does not like a one-dimensional offense. “It’s not good enough, and it’s not going to get us into a position to be successful offensively.” Nevada now awaits after holding Fresno State to 271 total yards and just 30 on the ground last week.

Boise State has one of the best secondaries in the Mountain West, so here’s a baffling stat: Bronco defensive backs have only one interception this season, the pick by Avery Williams against UConn. To be fair, they haven’t faced a true passing team all season. Now they do, in the form of Nevada. Wolf Pack quarterback Ty Gangi, whose status for Saturday’s game in Mackay Stadium is uncertain, is throwing for 268 yards per game with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Boise State defense got after Gangi last November, holding him to 160 yards passing and picking him off three times.

Gangi did not practice Monday, but he did yesterday. One could argue that the absence of Gangi, who suffered a thigh contusion the previous week against Air Force, was the difference in the Wolf Pack’s 21-3 loss to Fresno State. Christian Solano was pressed into his first career start and threw three interceptions. Solano’s numbers against the Bulldogs, 22-of-43 for 195 yards, were remarkably similar to Brett Rypien’s for Boise State against San Diego State. And just like Rypien, Solano was sacked four times by the ‘Dogs. Bottom line: it’s tough to predict this matchup. The point spread is 17 in favor of the Broncos. Where have we heard that before?

Two teams from Idaho are dealing with the state of Montana on Saturday. The University of Idaho, in dire need of a bounce-back after what happened last week at Idaho State, travels to Bozeman for a Big Sky clash on ROOT Sports against Montana State, a place the Vandals haven’t been since a 16-13 defeat in 1995. They played the Bobcats twice in Moscow during their FCS era, winning in 2000 and 2016. MSU coach Jeff Choate knows all about UI—he was a Boise State assistant during the Coach Pete years. College of Idaho will be in Butte to battle Montana Tech in the second game of this year’s home-and-home series. The Orediggers defeated the Coyotes 36-16 in the Simplot Stadium home opener last month. It’s the first of three trips to the Treasure State by the Yotes over the next five weeks.

The fact that Idaho State quarterback Tanner Gueller is Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week comes as no surprise. Here’s the gravy: Gueller is also the FCS STATS Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 492 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for 81 more in the Bengals’ 62-28 rout of Idaho last Saturday. Also in that game, ISU coach Rob Phenecie evened his two-season record at 8-8, and that’s sayin’ something in Pocatello. Now the Bengals, off to their best start since the 1981 Division I-AA national championship season with a 4-1 record, go on the road to face another 4-1 team, the UC Davis Aggies and coach Dan Hawkins.

When Darian Thompson was added to the Arizona practice squad last week, he seemed destined to be activated by the Cardinals. But Dallas beat the Cards to the punch. The Cowboys have gone back to the Boise State well, signing Thompson to their active roster, about six weeks after the jolt of a release by the team that drafted him in 2016, the New York Giants. For a time it looked like Jeron Johnson might be a Dallas safety. Now Thompson is one, joining Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford on the Cowboys roster. And we must not forget wide receiver Cedrick Wilson on injured reserve. Nor Kellen Moore with his headset.

The Idaho Steelheads’ 2018-19 season opens at Wichita Friday and at Tulsa Saturday and Sunday. Coach Neil Graham enters his fourth season with a 125-66-25 career record, coming off a solid 44-20-8 campaign last season. The stickler is the Kelly Cup Playoffs—the Steelies we’re ushered out in the second round of the postseason last spring, when they were swept by Colorado in the Mountain Division Finals. The Steelheads’ home opener happens a week from Friday against the Utah Grizzlies in CenturyLink Arena.

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October 10, 1970: An oddball game during Boise State’s first year in the Big Sky, as the Broncos fall 27-14 at Long Beach State, led by eventual first-round NFL Draft pick Leon Burns. Because previously-set schedules by Big Sky opponents couldn’t accommodate the Broncos that season, the matchup against the 49ers counted as a conference game. It was a tough assignment, as Long Beach State ended up the co-champion of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, the forerunner of the Big West. Boise State officially finished 2-2 in Big Sky play.

(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.)