Only 10 hands left to count on now

We are 50 days away from Boise State’s opener at Troy. So, as the Broncos try to ignore that outside noise, what are the other things they have to deal with going into fall camp? Numbers in the running game provide a dose of reality. Here’s the key number: 3.78 yards per carry. Boise State was held to that figure last season, the first time since 2008 it’s even been under the 4.5 mark. Alexander Mattison notched the Broncos’ ninth straight 1,000-yard season, but after his monster 242-yard night at Colorado State, he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry over the final four games. Boise State is generally deep this year—the running backs spot is one that is not. It’s unproven, anyway. Mattison needs a supporting cast that can bust off some big gains.

That uncomfortable subject has been broached in Cougarland again. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson wonders aloud if BYU’s ESPN contract, the centerpiece of the school’s football independence, has become a negative. “Providing a chance for a national audience to witness the Cougars getting beat likely isn’t what the powers that be, BYU’s board of trustees, had in mind under this model,” writes Monson. “What if BYU rejoined the Mountain West, allowing its teams in other sports to face what typically would be better, more compelling competition, some of it against more regional, traditional rivals, while football gained the advantage of playing for a league championship?” Well, pride will probably prevent that from ever happening. It would be an admission that the Utes had won the war.

There’s another story in the Deseret News this week about Tanner Mangum working hard to regain the starting quarterback spot at BYU this season. That’s not news, but the interesting thing about this latest piece by Jeff Call is a revelation about Mangum’s weight. Call says the Eagle High grad has lost 10-15 pounds as he recovers from the torn Achilles he suffered last November at Fresno State. And here’s new quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick saying, “He’s lost 22 pounds since I got hired.” Magnum was listed as 215 pounds last fall. Does that mean he’s now 205 pounds, or 200, or even 193? There have been no thoughts of using a redshirt year (which he still has available), as the Achilles has healed. Mangum turns 25 years old in November—he has said that he does not want to be a 26-year-old senior.

One other quarterback note—will Collin Hill be calling the signals for Colorado State’s showdown at Boise State October 19? Or will it be one-time Bronco commit K.J. Carta-Samuels, late of the Washington Huskies? “We’re not ruling out Game 1, but (Hill will) definitely be ready at some point this season,” CSU coach Mike Bobo said in the Coloradoan. Bobo said Hill is several weeks ahead of schedule in his recovery from a second torn ACL in his left knee suffered in a pickup basketball game in March, He redshirted last fall while recovering from his first ACL tear, suffered in October, 2016, against Utah State.

Jeff Caves and I jostled about it on IST a couple weeks ago—localizing PGA Tour stories with references to former Albertsons Boise Open champions. “What if one of them was leading the U.S. Open?” I asked the cackling Caves. Well, here’s our reach of the day. Steve Wheatcroft, the 2014 Boise Open champion, is leading after the first round of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, IL. Wheatcroft blistered the TPC Deere Run course with a nine-under 62 and is up by a stroke. It was not a good day for Troy Merritt, who came in at one-over 72. Same thing for Maddie Sheils on the LPGA Tour. The Bishop Kelly grad shot a two-over 73 at the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, OH.

Run by run, the Vancouver Canadians kept grinding away on the Boise Hawks last night, and in the end it was a 7-1 win for the visitors at Memorial Stadium. There are 11 games left in the race for the first-half South Division title and a spot in the Northwest League Playoffs In September. The Hawks currently trail the Hillsboro Hops by (four) games. One more rewind to Terrin Vavra’s walk-off grand slam for the Hawks on Wednesday. KTVB’s Jay Tust mentioned last night that the Colorado Rockies’ Director of Player Development happened to be in the stands for it. Timing is everything.

It’s been a week since Boise High grad James Hoyt was traded by Houston to the Cleveland Indians organization, landing him at Triple-A Columbus with a former high school rival, Stephen Fife out of Borah. Hoyt hasn’t pitched for the Clippers yet after going 0-3 with five saves and a 2.25 ERA in Fresno. He threw all of one inning for the Astros in a brief call-up this season. Fife was sidelined with elbow soreness at the end of May—he finally got back on the mound a week ago with a three-inning scoreless stint against Toledo. For the season in Columbus , Fife is 3-5 with a not-so-shiny 6.41 ERA.

The Chrono Kristin Armstrong this morning stirs memories of the Ore-Ida Women’s Challenge (later the HP Women’s Challenge), the international cycling event that occupied a place on the Idaho summer calendar for 19 years, from 1984-2002. It was unique in that it was the only women-only elite multi-stage race in the United States. And one that essentially launched Armstrong toward three Olympic gold medals, as she raced in the final edition of the event in 2002. The Chrono is unique in that it’s the only UCI one-day time trial in the U.S. this year. The 32nd annual Twilight Criterium rounds out an incredible cycling weekend tomorrow night in Downtown Boise. And just a few blocks away from the Twilight Criterium, of course, there’ll be a full house inside CenturyLink Arena for UFC Fight Night 133.

This Day In Sports… July 13, 2013, five years ago today:

In the midst of another mediocre season that almost had him banished to San Francisco’s bullpen, two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum spins the first no-hitter of his career in a 9-0 Giants win at San Diego. Lincecum struck out 13 batters, walked four, and threw a career-high 148 pitches. The wiry 29-year-old had won the Cy Young in 2008 and 2009 and had won two games in the 2010 World Series but had struggled off and on since.

(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.)