Considering this is Boise State’s 10th season in the Mountain West, the fact that a 22-point loss is the Broncos’ worst ever in the conference is not bad. The fact that it happened two nights ago with what is theoretically the school’s best team ever is. With that as the backdrop, CSU aims for a sweep of Boise State tonight that would move the Rams into sole possession of first place in the Mountain West. There are matchup problems. What to do about David Roddy, who torched the Broncos with 27 points and 15 rebounds in Game 1? Could Emmanuel Akot defend Roddy if he’s healthy? Maybe. But Akot has not been practicing regularly and is unlikely to be 100 percent tonight. He played only 10 minutes and went scoreless Wednesday night.
Boise State is now halfway through the Mountain West schedule. And the challenge suddenly intensifies. Did the easy first half of league play help this team mesh, or did it merely lull the Broncos to sleep? After Wednesday night’s game, Wally Szczerbiak didn’t pull any punches on CBS Sports Network. “They didn’t look like they wanted to play,” Szczerbiak said of the Broncos. “Boise State better change its attitude and its macho for Friday night’s game.” Part of that macho would be getting back into the paint, a place the Broncos have lived so far this season. The Rams outscored the Broncos 42-28 in the paint in Game 1—guards Marcus Shaver Jr. and RayJ Dennis, in particular, just weren’t getting there. The duo combined to go 6-for-18 from the field.
FRUITION IN BRONCOS FOOTBALL
Reflections now that Andy Avalos has settled in and his Boise State coaching staff is complete. The Broncos could have gone for an outside hire. Who’s to say it couldn’t have worked with a Brian Smith or a Graham Harrell? It could have. But nothing could have energized Bronco Nation more than the way this has played out. Avalos brought in a new “bleed blue” vibe, and with every coaching hire he made, there was a little more swagger. There are instant ties to the program with the retention of Spencer Danielson, Matt Miller, Winston Venable and Kent Riddle. There are past ties with the addition of former players Jeron Johnson and Kharyee Marshall. And there are roundabout ties with Tim Plough and Tim Keane coming aboard from Dan Hawkins’ staff at UC Davis. It’s honeymoon time.
BATES’ STOCK ON THE RISE
Wearing No. 87 and his blue Boise State helmet, former Broncos tight end John Bates continues to pop up on Twitter video clips from the Senior Bowl. The game is Saturday in Mobile, AL. While wondering aloud about Bates’ lack of big stats in his Boise State career, ProFootballNetwork.com thinks he has a chance in the NFL Draft. Matthew Valdovinos writes, “Bates fits the exact mold the NFL is moving to. He’s a strong athlete who creates separation and is a mismatch to slower linebackers and smaller defensive backs. Bates can be an effective tight end, but his coaches must utilize his athletic ability correctly.”
Bates still might be a bubble guy this spring. Writes Valdovinos, “His lack of real production severely limits how high he can be drafted, and the lack of the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine prevents him from showing off his physical traits on another national stage. Ideally, his route running could be a strength given his athletic ability, but he has much-needed development before he gets there.” Yes, Bates has ground to make up.
LONG WAIT IS OVER AT IDAHO
It’s not spring football, and it’s not fall camp. You can call it “winter camp,” and it opens today for Idaho in advance of the condensed Big Sky season that starts in four weeks. UI gets to do real football things for the first time in 14 months. According to coach Paul Petrino on Idaho SportsTalk recently, graduate transfer Mike Beaudry will open camp as the Vandals’ starting quarterback. Beaudry played one season at UConn, appearing in five games in 2019 before sustaining an injury. He went 53-of-83 for 503 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Beaudry began his collegiate career at West Florida, helping to start the program and leading it to the 2017 Division II national championship. Idaho has struggled at the QB position since Matt Linehan graduated.
MERRITT PLAYS, DELAET STILL REHABS
Troy Merritt is in the gray area as he tries to make his second cut in three PGA Tour tries in January. Merritt shot a one-under 71 Thursday in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, CA. It was a very uneven day—five birdies, two bogeys and one double-bogey on the Torrey Pines South Course. Fellow Boise State star Graham DeLaet is still rehabbing his latest back injury, the one that forced him to withdraw from the Houston Open during the second round in November. You know DeLaet misses it. “It’s weeks like this that make being on the shelf the hardest,” he tweeted Thursday. “Torrey is such a special place.”
The Boise State women have the same bounce-back assignment their Broncos men counterparts have today. They were roughed up 71-51 on their home floor by Colorado State Wednesday and try to right the ship today. Boise State has now lost three in a row for the first time in five years. Elsewhere on the men’s side in the valley, College of Idaho was supposed to be home in Caldwell against Park University-Gilbert tonight and Saturday, but COVID issues within the Park program have forced the cancellation of those contests. The Northwest Nazarene men are on the road at Saint Martin’s for a pair of games.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
January 29, 1974: History would prove the Pittsburgh Steelers to be brilliant with their picks in the NFL Draft. The Steelers’ first four choices that day were wide receiver Lynn Swann, linebacker Jack Lambert, wide receiver John Stallworth, and center Mike Webster. They would become key components of the Pittsburgh dynasty that would win four of the next six Super Bowls. All four were eventually voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(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.)