Roh-ing through a great senior year

If we had wondered aloud in August about who would succeed Jeremy McNichols as Boise State’s team leader in touchdowns this season, we would have said Cedrick Wilson, or maybe Alexander Mattison. Now, could it possibly end up being Jake Roh? A tight end? It just gets better for the senior from Scottsdale, AZ, who now tops the Broncos with eight TDs. He made his fifth and sixth touchdown receptions Saturday night at Utah State to go with his two rushing scores out of the wildcat earlier this season. Both TDs versus the Aggies spoke to Roh’s experience. In the second quarter he ran a misdirection route and fought off a USU defender as the ball arrived from 22 yards out in the front corner of the end zone. In the fourth quarter, Roh read the safety and made an inside release to get wide open on a 35-yard strike.

Roh is getting it done with a thick brace on his left arm. “I think every week it’s gotten bigger,” joked Boise State coach Bryan Harsin. “He would tell you his arm is getting bigger.” Well, a byproduct of Roh’s performance this season is bigger stats. After an injury-sapped 2016 that saw him log just 10 receptions, Roh has 29 catches for 279 yards and the six scores this season. He is six grabs away from the career-high 35 receptions he had as a redshirt freshman. Roh is over both the 100-catch and 1,000-yard plateaus for his career. Incidentally, Roh’s first career touchdown came in Boise State’s last game against Nevada in 2014, a three-yarder from Grant Hedrick that started the scoring in the Broncos’ wild 51-46 victory.

Boise State’s defensive line depth is magnified this week with the loss of defensive end Sam Whitney for the rest of the season due to a patellar tendon tear in his knee. Whitney traveled to the Utah State game but did not suit up. Harsin said the injury occurred in practice late last week, and the staff knew Whitney’s fate (he’ll undergo surgery today). Whitney’s sophomore campaign ends with 21 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Fortunately for the Broncos, his STUD end position is also populated by Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier. Weaver leads Boise State in sacks this season with six, one better than Frazier, who’s been coming on strong during this four-game winning streak. Harsin says three players who left the USU game with injuries, David Moa, Durrant Miles and Eric Quevedo, are “fine.”

Some find it odd that Boise State hasn’t had a Mountain West Player of the Week this season outside of Avery Williams’ two special teams awards. Yeah, maybe, at least on defense. But with the Broncos spreading the wealth like they are this season, it’s tough to pick one guy out of the bunch every week. This week’s conference honorees were Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and Cowboys safety Andrew Wingard, who both had big games in the Pokes’ 42-3 rout of New Mexico. Maybe Brett Rypien should have won it on offense this week. Then again, perhaps San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny should have. Despite the Broncos’ great effort on defense at Utah State, they spread their tackles-for-loss evenly among eight players and didn’t record a sack or a turnover.

Heard this just in the nick of time this morning—former Boise State star Jay Ajayi has been traded by Miami to Philadelphia for a fourth round draft pick. The consensus is it’s a great move for the Eagles. And it’s great for Ajayi, who gets to play for the NFC East leader with the best young quarterback in the NFL, Carson Wentz. The Eagles were in immediate need of a running back after losing Darren Sproles for the season. It’s been a weird year for Ajayi. He’s rushed for 465 yards but is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry and, most remarkably, has not scored a touchdown this season. Ajayi was fourth in the NFL last season with 1,272 yards and eight TDs and played in his first Pro Bowl.

Seattle is betting the house that Duane Brown is the answer to former Boise State standout Rees Odhiambo on the offensive line. The Seahawks have traded cornerback Jeremy Lane and two future draft picks to Houston to get Brown, the Pro Bowl left tackle who, ironically, came back from a season-long holdout and played 68 snaps for the Texans in the 41-38 loss to Seattle Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Odhiambo has been hot and cold filling in at left tackle for the injured George Fant. Sunday Odhiambo was rather frigid, struggling mightily against Houston star Jadeveon Clowney. He was whistled for a false start during the Seahawks’ miracle game-winning drive with Clowney looming over him on the other side of the line.

With Boise State playing an in-state foe Thursday night, let’s talk about an in-state guy. Can Malek Harwell break though this season? The former Century High star from Pocatello was poised to make an impact last winter, but he hasn’t been seen on the Taco Bell Arena court since he played two minutes in the first half against Wyoming February 18, and that marked his first appearance in a month and a half. Harwell scored two points, his first in Mountain West play. It was the only time he played in the first half of a game all season. Harwell didn’t play again until mopup during the 98-70 rout of Air Force in the regular season finale, when he hit the last of the Broncos’ school-record 20 three-pointers. The sophomore guard has grown an inch since last season, now standing at 6-5.

Boise State women’s soccer takes the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year into the conference tournament today in Las Vegas. Raimee Sherle, the sophomore out of Rocky Mountain High, took the honor yesterday after scoring 12 goals and 28 points in conference play, a Mountain West record. Sherle’s overall season totals of 16 goals and 38 points both lead the conference, and are No. 2 and 3, respectively, in NCAA women’s soccer. The Broncos, seeded third, open the tournament today against sixth-seeded Air Force.

From the “something that will not happen to Rich Hill tonight” department as he starts the pivotal Game 6 of the World Series for the Dodgers against Houston. The former Boise Hawk is the only pitcher in Major League history to have had a perfect game broken up by a 9th inning fielding error—and the only big league pitcher ever to have a no-hitter broken up in extra innings by a walk-off home run. That happened August 23 at Pittsburgh (the homer was courtesy of ex-Hawk Josh Harrison). Odds are infinity-to-one that Hill won’t be involved in a no-hitter tonight. Nor will Houston starter Justin Verlander. The two teams have combined for a record 23 home runs in this World Series—with one…or two…games to go.

This Day In Sports…October 31, 1997, 20 years ago today:

Six-foot-ten Tim Duncan, the NBA’s top draft pick out of Wake Forest, scores 15 points in his pro debut. His mentor, veteran 7-1 center David Robinson, added 21 as San Antonio opened the season with a 107-96 win over Denver. Duncan would go on to be NBA Rookie of the Year—and the following season would help the Spurs to their first NBA title. The two-time NBA MVP played all 19 seasons of his pro career with San Antonio and is considered basketball’s greatest power forward of all-time.

(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.)