Pre-Halloween ghost of Air Force games past

Air Force quarterback Isaiah Sanders has been named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, and there’s an eery irony in the numbers that got him there as the Falcons prepare for Boise State this Saturday. Sanders not only rushed for 173 yards and recorded 390 yards of total offense, the second-most in program history, he also went 9-of-11 through the air for 217 yards and a touchdown in a 41-35 win at UNLV. Those numbers rang a bell as soon as I saw them. Air Force QB Karson Roberts was 9-of-16 for 279 yards and two TDs in the 37-30 shocker over the Broncos on the blue turf in 2015. That was then and this is now, but it goes to show that the vaunted Air Force triple-option has an ambush tentacle to it. Sanders completed his first nine attempts against the Rebels.

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien wasn’t a player of the week, obviously, but he was named one of eight Manning Award “Stars of the Week” after posting his 19th career 300-yard game and logging the 10th-best single-game completion percentage in school history at 84.6. Meanwhile, cornerback Avery Williams was named to the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll for his versatility against Colorado State. Williams averaged 11.7 yards on three punt returns—the touchdown runback that was negated by a penalty would have covered 87 yards. He also had an interception that he returned 24 yards and forced a fumble recovered by the Broncos. Williams capped his night by grabbing a CSU onside kick and taking it 44 yards for a touchdown. Yep, that’s versatile.

Will the bigness of Boise State’s November home opponents offset the kickoff times? We already knew the Fresno State game had an 8:15 start on Friday the 9th. Now the homecoming tilt against BYU a week from Saturday has met the same fate. All that remains is the Utah State game on Senior Day (or Night, as the case may be) on Thanksgiving weekend. Pit in stomach. Then again, maybe there’ll be a surprise in the offing, like the San Diego State game 2½ weeks ago. The fans spoke that day—to the tune of 36,679 through the turnstiles. All three of these final blue turf events are huge. The Broncos hope that’s what takes root.

Matt Miller was always considered a wide receiver’s answer to Kellen Moore at Boise State: talented, quiet, humble and football-smart. So it wasn’t a surprise that he, like Moore did eventually, went into coaching. Miller, whose Bronco career overlapped Moore’s by one season in 2011, got his first full-time job as wide receivers coach at Montana State in 2016. Now, with the Bobcats ranked 12th in total offense in the 13-team Big Sky, Miller has been elevated to offensive coordinator and primary play-caller. Coach Jeff Choate, the former Boise State assistant, has fired play-caller Bob Cole and reduced the responsibilities of current O-coordinator Brian Armstrong. Miller is the Broncos’ all-time leading receiver with 244 catches.

Whatever happened to former Idaho head coach Nick Holt? Since being fired by the Vandals almost 13 years ago, Holt has worked as an assistant at USC, Washington, Arkansas, Western Kentucky and now Purdue. He has served as defensive coordinator at every stop except Arkansas. Well, Holt called the game of his life in Purdue’s stunning 49-20 rout of No. 2 Ohio State Saturday night. He was credited constantly by ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit for befuddling the Buckeyes. Holt’s defense held OSU to 76 rushing yards and forced quarterback Dwayne Haskins to pass a staggering 73 times. Haskins’ throws covered 470 yards, but the Boilermakers buckled down on the Buckeyes in the red zone.

We’ll probably see now how much stock the Oakland Raiders put in Doug Martin. Will the former Boise State star’s workload increase measurably now that the team has placed Marshawn Lynch on injured reserve? The Raiders have had a bye week to think about it. Lynch will be out until at least the final two weeks of the season with a groin injury. Martin has seen spot duty throughout the early part of the season, gaining 99 yards on 27 carries for a 3.9-yard average. He has played single-digit offensive snaps in each of Oakland’s last three games, gaining only 12 yards on seven totes during that stretch. Martin has been the talk of Fantasy football chatboards.

We’re not going to follow the Chicago Bulls’ Chandler Hutchison every night out during the 82-game NBA season. But it is nice to report on some numbers finally. After getting in during the final three minutes at Philadelphia last Thursday and not at all at home against Detroit on Saturday, Hutchison played 18 minutes in the Bulls’ 115-109 loss at Dallas last night. The former Boise State star scored his first three NBA points on a bucket and a free throw while making one steal and pulling down four rebounds.

It’s good for Mountain West hoops that Nevada was ranked No. 7 yesterday in the preseason AP Poll. It’s not so good that the Wolf Pack lost an “exhibition scrimmaghe” 91-73 to Washington Sunday afternoon in Lawlor Events Center. The Huskies didn’t take much of a look at their bench, as they stuck with a six-man rotation for much of the game. The Pack spread the minutes a bit more, but this is not at all what is expected of this Nevada team—exhibition or not—as it comes off a run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 last March. “I thought it was the worst home performance that we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman told Nevada SportsNet’s Chris Murray. Musselman called his team’s defense “atrocious.” I think he’ll get this fixed, though.

Raimee Sherle has not scored a goal in Boise State’s last two games (perish the thought). But the former Rocky Mountain star still leads the nation with 19 goals, two more than Evelyne Viens of South Florida. There’s one more chance to see Sherle at home this season, as the Broncos host Utah State Friday for Senior Day (Sherle is only a junior). Boise State will be playing for the outright Mountain West championship against the Aggies after earning a share of the title with Sunday ‘s 0-0 draw versus San Jose State. The Broncos accepted their Mountain West trophy on the spot anyway, though, as it represents their first MW regular season crown. Elsewhere, the Boise State baseball team will wrap up its first fall practice today. The Broncos will hold a 6-on-6 scrimmage at Fort Boise.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by POOL DOCTOR & SPA…so many ways to soak and save!

October 23, 1988, 30 years ago today: Dan Marino has the biggest day of his NFL career, but it comes in a loss for the Miami Dolphins. When the New York Jets went up 30-10 at halftime, the Dolphins were forced to go to the air. Marino threw for 521 yards—second in NFL history at the time to Norm Van Brocklin’s 554 yards in 1951—and three touchdowns. But Marino was also picked off five times in a 44-30 Miami loss.

(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.)