Out from under Chuckie Keeton’s shadow

It’ll be a familiar face inside a different-colored helmet across the line from the Boise State defense Saturday, at least for the Bronco seniors. Darell Garretson transferred from Utah State to Oregon State last year, sat out due to NCAA transfer rules, and is now the starting quarterback for the Beavers. As a true freshman in 2013, he was pressed into service against Boise State in Logan. It was a week after Chuckie Keeton was lost for the season with a knee injury, and new Aggies starter Craig Harrison was pulled after going 7-of-17. Garretson burned his redshirt that night and came on to go 9-of-14 for 116 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in USU’s 34-23 loss to the Broncos. An injury ended his 2014 season before Utah State faced Boise State, but he did lead the Aggies to a 34-20 win over BYU.

Figuring he was stuck behind Keeton long-term, and Kent Myers after that, Garretson headed for Corvallis to play for the guy who first recruited him at Utah State, Gary Andersen (although current USU coach Matt Wells closed the deal). Garretson won the starter’s job in spring ball and now prepares for his third game as a Beaver. The results have been okay so far. Garretson is 40-of-70 for 400 yards with three touchdowns and one interception—he was just 15-of-30 in the Beavs’ win over Idaho State last week. Protection has been an issue, as he has been sacked seven times. But Garretson is a deft scrambler.

On the Boise State side Saturday, the Broncos hope to diversify their passing game. Coach Bryan Harsin said yesterday they just haven’t had a chance to yet. All through spring football and fall camp, we wondered if Boise State could develop a “second wave” of wide receivers behind Thomas Sperbeck, Chaz Anderson and Cedrick Wilson. The consensus was that the talent was there. Well, after two games, the starting wideouts have combined for 28 catches for 519 yards and three touchdowns. The backups have a total of one catch, A.J. Richardson’s 31-yarder from Tommy Stuart in the fourth quarter at Louisiana-Lafayette. “But,” said Harsin, “they’ll show up.”

“They probably need more opportunities,” Harsin said. When Boise State got up by five touchdowns in Louisiana, it stopped throwing the ball. Against Washington State, the Broncos ran off just 61 plays. Harsin points out that in one quarter against WSU there were only six, and that the offense isn’t yet “in a rhythm” that would allow the backups to shine. “I wouldn’t say that they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, but we need them,” said Harsin. “I’m happy with that group.” Harsin continues to extol the attributes of Akilian Butler, Sean Modster and Richardson. “We have to get out there and have an opportunity to drive a little bit,” he said.

Only five players have more than one reception for Boise State this season, but the Broncos have gotten major production out of them. The others beyond the three starting wide receivers are emerging Fruitland Grizzly Alec Dhaenens at tight end (seven catches for 47 yards) and Jeremy McNichols (six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown). McNichols’ work out of the backfield is what keeps him tagged with the “McWeapon” nickname. Last season he made 51 catches, a school record by a running back, for 460 yards and six TDs.

Harsin said yesterday he “fully expects” linebacker Joe Martarano and tight end Jake Roh to be back in the lineup Saturday for Boise State. Fans surely have their fingers crossed. Martarano would give the Broncos a physical presence at middle linebacker to combat (among other things) 6-0, 234-pound Oregon State running back Ryan Nall. Roh would create a dual receiving threat at the tight end spot to go with Dhaenens.

Coach Paul Petrino predicted before the season that Idaho had the potential to put a 40 points-per-game offense on the field. The problem with such proclamations is that fans remember. Let’s just say the Vandals are pacing behind. In three games, they’ve scored a total of 40 points. That means they’ll have to average almost 49 points a game the rest of the way. Idaho is currently tied for 124th in the country in scoring at 13.3 points per game. Things should improve Saturday night at UNLV, but the Vandals go in as 14-point underdogs.

I can count at three instances yesterday that we heard NFL coaches use the “I’m not a doctor” line. One was one-time Boise State coach Dirk Koetter at Tampa Bay. Like everyone else, he had to wait for results of Doug Martin’s MRI Tuesday before he speculated on when the former Bronco might return. Now it’s being reported that Martin will miss three weeks. The fifth-year running back injured a hamstring at Atlanta early in the first quarter last Sunday. “When you see it on the film, he did it on a cut,” Koetter said. “It was a pitch play, and when Doug planted, he said that’s when he did it. You can’t even hardly tell on tape.” In the Buccaneers’ first two games (actually less than five quarters), Martin has 25 carries for 85 yards and five receptions for 34 yards.

The Idaho Steelheads have another one-time NHL skater in the fold, as former Vancouver Canuck Kellan Lain has agreed to terms for the 2016-17 season. This will be Lain’s first season in the ECHL—he played 104 games in the AHL over the past four seasons. The 6-6 forward appeared in nine NHL games for the Canucks during the 2013-14 season, tallying one goal and 21 penalty minutes. Lain joins Bryce Van Brabant, a former Calgary Flames forward who came aboard with the Steelheads last week.

Former Boise Hawk Brandon Guyer collected the first walk-off hit of his career last night, and it had meaning in Cleveland. Guyer singled in Coco Crisp with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Indians a 2-1 win over Kansas City and reducing their magic number to win the American League Central to six. Guyer came to Cleveland in a trade deadline deal from Tampa Bay on August 1. The 30-year-old outfielder is hitting .261 for the season, but he’s batting .324 since the trade and .381 in September.

This Day In Sports…September 21, 1996, 20 years ago today:

Led by Capital High graduate Jake Plummer, Arizona State lays a totally unexpected 19-0 shutout on two-time defending national champion Nebraska in Sun Devil Stadium. Plummer directed an 80-yard touchdown drive on ASU’s first possession. Then the defense, led by the late Pat Tillman, took over—forcing an NCAA record-tying three safeties. The upset snapped the Cornhuskers’ 26-game winning streak and launched the Sun Devils’ undefeated march to the Rose Bowl.

(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.