Boise State coach Bryan Harsin held his pre-Cactus Bowl press conference yesterday, and there was some stuff left hanging There was no update on the 2017 status of running back Jeremy McNichols, who is considering early entry into the NFL Draft. “We’ve had very little conversation over it right now,” said Harsin. “If he does decide to come out early, we’ll do what we did with Jay (Ajayi), we’ll support him.” Ajayi announced his decision to depart 10 days before the Fiesta Bowl two years ago, allowing everyone to digest it (and remove it from the distraction list). Then Ajayi rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-30 win over Arizona. Also, mum was the word on any contact with Oregon early this month—and on the possibility of quarterback Tommy Stuart exiting as a graduate transfer.
One of the most revealing nuggets of the week has come from Adam Grosbard of the Dallas Morning News, who covers Baylor and had this tweet: “Matt Rhule says receiver KD Cannon promised him Baylor would win the Cactus Bowl against Boise State.” Rhule, of course, will take over the Bears program after the bowl game. Does that serve as inspiration for the Broncos? “I can certainly tell you it doesn’t hurt,” grinned Harsin. “You still have to go out and play the game.” Harsin takes Cannon’s talent very seriously, though, as he heads into the December 27 clash with 73 receptions for 989 yards and 11 touchdowns. “KD Cannon (is) one of the best in the country,” said Harsin. “You just pop on the tape and you can see why.”
Cannon and his teammates on the Baylor offense are the reason this team is dangerous despite its six-game losing streak. The Bears are fifth in the country, averaging 523 yards per game, 250 of it on the ground from an attack that has the perception of pass-pass-pass. “The first thing that jumps out is speed,” said Harsin. “Speed, splits (on the offensive line), and that tempo that they play at really stand out.” The speed is tough to replicate in practice. “I brought my dad’s fuel-alcohol car down, and we tried to cover that,” quipped Harsin. His dad, Dale, is a local drag racer of regional renown.
Boise State has another add to its 2017 recruiting class, as Roman Kafentzis of Southern California power Mater Dei committed to the Broncos yesterday. Kafentzis, a 6-2, 200-pounder, is listed as a safety, but he sees a Tanner Vallejo-type fit in Boise State’s defensive scheme. “They have a SAM/OLB hybrid position that really fits me well,” Kafentzis told Scout.com. “It’s very similar to what I did at Mater Dei. I’ll be rushing the passer off the edge, containing the outside, playing in the box and dropping, a little of everything.” Kafentzis’ father, Kurt, played in the NFL in the late 1980’s and, notes the Statesman’s Dave Southorn, was a high school football teammate of Bronco hoops coach Leon Rice in Richland, WA.
So what does Rice think of his various new guard combinations? He has plenty of time to go over them, as the Boise State will have gone 13 days without playing by the time it faces Idaho State on Sunday. Justinian Jessup is off to a solid start as a true freshman, averaging 9.4 points per game and shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc. Sophomore Paris Austin, scoring 9.9 points per game, is starting alongside Jessup. James Reid is now coming off the bench as he waits for his three-point stroke to come around. It’s showing signs—Reid is 8-for-19 from deep over the past four games after a 3-for-20 start.
Can you imagine what the Western Michigan version of the Broncos is going through right now? WMU has a player charged with armed robbery and murder. Joeviair Kennedy is due to be arraigned Monday in a Kalamazoo County court in last Thursday’s fatal shooting of a fellow student in an off-campus apartment. What a wrenching, unsettling thing for a basketball program. Kennedy played 12 minutes in a 91-70 loss to Boise State in Charleston November 20, scoring two points on 1-for-6 shooting.
The Idaho Steelheads return to Boise looking to snap a three-game losing streak, their longest of the season, as they host Rapid City tonight in CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads’ sweep last week at the hands of Colorado was their first in more than a year. There’s some good special teams play ahead for fans, as Rapid City is fourth in the ECHL on the penalty kill at 89.2 percent. Something’s gotta give, as the Steelies are second in the league in the power play at 23.4 percent. Idaho hopes good goaltending is on the menu, too. Philippe Desrosiers got the pub when he returned from the AHL’s Texas Stars. But Branden Komm has allowed two goals or less in four straight appearances.
Brundage Mountain is not only open, it’s diving right into extreme skiing of sorts this weekend. Brundage is hosting a world-class mountaineering event Friday and Saturday, the “Northwest Passage Ski Mountaineering Race.” The event features uphill climbs and downhill sprints and tests both ability and stamina. That’s right, competitors on Friday are going to go up—520 meters from the bottom of 45th Parallel to the top of Engen. Oh, but then there’s the “individual race” on Saturday. Elite racers will cover 12.9 miles—uphill and downhill twice—and a total of 6,400 vertical feet. Saturday’s elite racers will be competing to qualify for the USSMA 2017 Ski Mountaineering World Championship, to be held in Transcavallo, Italy.
College of Idaho has its first-ever two-time first-team All-American, as safety Nate Moore was honored yesterday by the NAIA and the American Football Coaches’ Association. The senior out of Mountain View High set a new school record and led the Frontier Conference this season with 119 tackles. Moore added three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
This Day In Sports…December 14, 2012:
Boise State earns its first-ever basketball win over an SEC team with an 89-70 thumping of LSU before 11,210 fans in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos were led by Australian sophomore Anthony Drmic’s 34 points, and they asserted themselves on the glass, out-rebounding the previously undefeated Tigers by 17 on the night. The game was arranged with the help of one-time Tiger coach and former Bronco player Trent Johnson, who had resigned following the prior season to take over at TCU.
(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.)