If Brett Rypien sizzles at the start of the season, there’ll be a lot of buzz about Boise State’s sophomore quarterback. Not that there isn’t already. Rypien is one of 30 players—and the only one from the Mountain West—on the watch list for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. For Rypien, it’s all about eliminating the hiccups this year, because when he’s good, he’s really good. He’s the reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Year and was the Offensive MVP in the Poinsettia Bowl. Case No. 1 in consistency is the New Mexico game last year when he threw for 506 yards. He also put up a school-record 75 passing attempts but completed 41 (a 55 percent clip), and the Broncos lost. Then there was the Poinsettia Bowl: 377 yards on 29-of-39 passing with three touchdowns. That should be the norm.
Jeremy McNichols’ latest place on a watch list isn’t as unique, but it’s still nice. The Boise State junior is on the list for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the top running back in the country. McNichols is one of seven Mountain West running backs to get the nod. A year ago, analysts didn’t know quite what to think of McNichols, as he split time between wide receiver and running back after his redshirt year was burned in 2014. Next thing you know, McNichols was leading the Mountain West and tying for second in the nation in scoring. He also rushed for 1,337 yards and led conference running backs in receiving with 51 catches. McNichols has scored a rushing touchdown in a Mountain West-record 12 consecutive games.
If all goes well, the Boise State men’s basketball team will face defending national champion Villanova the week before Thanksgiving in the Gildan Charleston Classic. Things would have to go exceedingly well, though, as the Wildcats are on the other side of the bracket and can only face the Broncos in the championship game. Boise State first has to get past the host team, College of Charleston, in the first round on November 17. The Broncos would then have to beat either Mississippi State or Central Florida. With Villanova in the other half of the bracket are Western Michigan, UTEP and Wake Forest.
James Webb III got another start for Philadelphia last night and scored 13 points in the 76ers’ 87-84 Las Vegas Summer League loss to Brooklyn. The most important column in the box score as far as Webb is concerned is three-point shooting. It seems the former Boise State star is finding his stroke—he went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc last night and is 6-for-8 from deep in the past two games.
After getting worked by Vancouver Tuesday, the Boise Hawks returned the favor last night in a 7-1 victory over the Canadians. Daniel Suero hit a solo home run and knocked in three runs, and Anthony Brito added a two-run single to key the victory. Jacob Bosiokovic singled—he has now reached base safely in all 24 games he’s played this season. Erick Julio turned in a strong start for the second straight time, going five scoreless innings and improving to 2-1 on the season. The 19-year-old Colombian has lowered his ERA from 5.68 to 3.60 over his last two outings. Cavan Biggio, the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, went 0-for-4 for the Canadians, but the fifth-round draft pick is hitting .312 for the season. Three more games remain in the Vancouver-Boise series this weekend.
Troy Merritt started strong yesterday at the Barbasol Championship in Auburn, AL. The former Boise State star carded a four-under 67, highlighted by a hole-out from 120 yards away on No. 11 for an eagle. Merritt is tied for 10th going into today’s second round. Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge played well enough, shooting a two-under 69 to tie for 40th. Graham DeLaet’s four birdies yesterday were offset by four bogeys, two of them on the final four holes. He was even at 71 and is tied for 77th.
There will be a new Idaho Women’s Amateur champion this year. The tournament unfolds today through Sunday at iconic Pinecrest in Idaho Falls, and 2015 champion Gabby Barker is not in the field. Barker, the Vallivue High grad, was the Big 12 Women’s Player of the Year as a sophomore at Texas Tech, the first Red Raider women’s golfer ever to earn that honor, and she’s competing with an international team in Europe. The player to watch according to IGA insiders is Amanda Myers. She finished second to Barker last year, and Pinecrest is her home course. Two others of note are Sierra Harr of Buhl (and Weber State), and Brooklyn Hocker Anderson of Idaho Falls (and BYU).
The first Boise Twilight Criterium had a purse of $500. Tomorrow night, it’s $30,000. The event has certainly evolved. Founder and race director Mike Cooley has moved the race for its 30th anniversary—it shifts up a couple blocks, with the start/finish line now in front of the Capitol Building. Beyond the obvious attraction of two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong appearing in the final local race of her career, there’s a strong field awaiting the 20,000-plus fans expected. Cooley suggests you keep an eye on John Murphy of United Healthcare and Ulises Castillo of KHS Maxius on the men’s side. Defending Twilight Criterium champion (and Armstrong teammate) Allie Dragoo is a favorite on the women’s side.
Once the Idaho Steelheads finally got in a groove after their slow start last season, Kyle Jean was one of the catalysts. Jean joined the Steelheads last December after starting the season in Sweden—this year he’ll begin in Boise, as he has agreed to terms with Idaho for 2015-16. He set career-highs with 16 goals and 42 points in 52 regular season games. Jean also netted two goals in the Steelies’ first-round playoff series against the eventual Kelly Cup champions, the Allen Americans. Over four pro seasons, Jean has played 126 games in the ECHL and 126 in the AHL.
Two major football activities this weekend: the sixth annual Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Football Challenge will be held today and tomorrow at the Optimist Youth Sports Complex. The event includes varsity and junior varsity 7-on-7 tournaments, a lineman challenge and a tug-of-war competition. There’ll be 24 regional high school teams represented and nearly 750 athletes. And Gridiron Dreams is back for a clinic tomorrow at Harmon Killebrew Field in Payette. Founder Alex Guerrero has an Idaho vs. Oregon thing going at this camp, with Matt Paradis the ringleader of the Idahoans and Gabe Linehan heading up the Oregonians
This Day In Sports…July 15, 2005:
Considered the greatest golfer of the 20th century, Jack Nicklaus takes a final bow as he crosses the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews. At the age of 65, Nicklaus wrapped up his final major with a birdie in the British Open, a tournament he won three times in his career. The Golden Bear won a 18 majors overall, a record that appears to be safe as Tiger Woods continues to languish.
(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.)