When you see Eli Drinkwitz, he looks like that kid from science class—in a Kellen Moore kind of way. When you see Eli Drinkwitz, he looks like that kid from science class—in a Kellen Moore kind of way. Drinkwitz is now tasked with being Boise State’s mad scientist, as he becomes the Broncos’ fifth offensive coordinator in the past six years, replacing one-year wonder Mike Sanford Jr. Drinkwitz was promoted from within, doubly-within. He came from Arkansas State with Bryan Harsin, who entrusted Drinkwitz with play-calling midway through his one season in Jonesboro in 2013. The Red Wolves went 5-1 during that stretch, including a 23-20 win over Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl after Harsin had departed for Boise. In Drinkwitz, the Broncos have broken the mold, as he never played college football. But they hired his mind—one that has been honed by his time under Harsin and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
With that said, what happens to the Boise State offense? Evolution, as usual. Drinkwitz was promoted not for overhaul but for continuity. Any changes will be driven by the guys the Broncos put on the field, especially at the most important position. And Drinkwitz has known that since Day 1. “There’s a certain DNA of our offense, and we’ll direct the offense based on the strengths of our quarterback,” said Drinkwitz this spring. Added Harsin at the outset of fall camp, “We have new things we’re going to do, even schematically. We need to get our quarterback rotation figured out.”
If numbers are goals (which they’re not, unless you’re talking about the win column), here’s the act Drinkwitz has to follow. Under Sanford last season, Boise State averaged 39.7 points and 494.3 yards per game. That was a far cry from what the Broncos did under offensive coordinator Robert Prince the year before in Chris Petersen’s final season, right? Well, no. They rung up 476 yards and 37.5 points per game in 2013. It’s just that the points didn’t come at crucial times that season. Once things got rolling last year, Boise State had the hammer down, putting up 50 or more points in five of its last seven regular season games.
I’ve been around long enough to make my share of mistakes, and, uh, I need some closure on this one. A week ago I wrote about Sports Illustrated’s College Football Preview, and how, despite getting a lot of ink, Boise State wasn’t ranked. Well, my son finally read the issue yesterday and remarked about how amazing it was that SI had the Broncos at No. 16. No. 16? I boneheadedly had opened up the preview, thumbed through the Top 25 profiles from the back, and stopped when I got down below No. 20. “Hmmm, Boise State isn’t in,” I thought. Correction. This “Opposing Coach’s Take” is right on, I think: “It’ll be interesting to see how things work with a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterback. The running back question isn’t as vital—they have plenty of those.”
Bronco Athletic Association luncheons were a staple of Boise State’s fall calendar for decades until they disappeared early in the Chris Petersen era. The BAA has announced the luncheons wil return—occasionally instead of weekly—beginning August 31 at the Jordan Ballroom. Bryan Harsin and other fall sport coaches will speak. The meetings will be spiced up by current and former Bronco athletes. It’ll be a positive connection with fans.
With the Boise State-Washington showdown just 2½ weeks away now, the Huskies offense has sustained another blow. Dexter Charles, the only returning starter on the UW offensive line, has announced his retirement from football due to a lingering knee injury. Charles is a fifth-year senior who started 30 games over the past three seasons. Then, the Seattle Times’ Adam Jude reports, junior Jake Eldrenkamp, Charles’ replacement, rolled an ankle and hobbled off the field on the last play of practice yesterday. “It didn’t necessarily appear to be a serious injury,” wrote Jude.
Colorado State has named the successor to departed quarterback Garrett Grayson, the 2014 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year. It’ll be sophomore Nick Stevens attempting to fill those shoes. It was Stevens’ job to lose, and he hasn’t let it slip from his grasp. The 6-3, 205-pounder from Murrieta, California, was 15-of-25 for 136 yards and a touchdown last year in mop-up duty. Boise State and its new QB will visit Fort Collins on Saturday, October 10, in what could be a pivotal conference tilt.
There’s a lot of togetherness in the College of Idaho athletic department—witness some of the prominent two-sport athletes on the Coyotes’ football roster. Two of the top middle linebackers double as baseball players, Troy Carr of Rathdrum and Jake Hennessey of Mountain Home (last year’s backup quarterback). One of the Yotes’ kickers is Payette’s Joe Bolin, the leading scorer from the men’s soccer team. The C of I’s season opener is just 11 days away. The Coyotes open August 29 against Eastern Oregon, and in preparation they’ll hold their second annual Purple/Gold intrasquad scrimmage Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Boise State is mourning former men’s basketball player Zach Moritz, who died last week at the age of 27. Moritz, a member of the Broncos’ 2008 WAC championship and NCAA Tournament team, passed away from Lyme disease, according to the Statesman’s Dave Southorn. Moritz finished his career in Leon Rice’s first season, averaging a career-best 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds while appearing in 33 of Boise State’s 35 games.
The Boise Hawks had to deal with a proud pitching staff as their three-game series against Eugene opened at Memorial Stadium. The Emeralds were coming off a no-hitter Sunday night, a four-pitcher, 3-0 blanking of Everett that was finished by former Hawk Trey Masek. A little bit of irony there. Eugene, of course, is the new Cubs’ affiliate in the Northwest League, replacing Boise. The Hawks have never thrown a no-hitter. Last night, the Hawks seemed to have a handle on the Ems, leading 4-2 going into the eighth inning. Five runs and a bullpen collapse later, Boise had a 7-4 loss. Kevin Padlo’s 11-game hitting streak was also snapped in the defeat.
Man, what did we see a month ago in the Basque Soccer Friendly at Albertsons Stadium? Apparently it was a team gearing up to make some history. Athletic Bilbao managed a 1-1 draw with perennial power FC Barcelona last night in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Coupled with Athletic’s 4-0 shocker over Barcelona last Friday, the aggregate score was 5-1, enabling Bilbao to hoist the trophy for the first time in 31 years. The goal differential was the largest in Spanish Super Cup history. The hero for the underdogs was once again Aritz Aduriz, who scored Athletic’s lone goal in the second half after Barca superstar Lionel Messi had tallied in the first.
This Day In Sports…August 18, 2010, five years ago today:
Just when the dust appears to be settling in conference realignment, word leaks that Brigham Young University would leave the Mountain West, going independent in football and joining the WAC for all other sports. Then came rumors that UNLV and San Diego State would bolt for the WAC in all sports, spurring the Mountain West to counter in the afternoon with invitations to Fresno State and Nevada. The Bulldogs and Wolf Pack accepted later that evening, leaving the WAC reeling just hours after it appeared the league would pull off an historic coup. Two weeks later, BYU would indeed leave the Mountain West, announcing its non-football sports would instead move to the West Coast Conference.
(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.)