Bryan Harsin talked extensively about Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien Monday. “I think it’s a really tough challenge for him (right now),” said Harsin. “You have this plan in your head, and it doesn’t go that way.” If we had told you before the season that at the end of September (with Rypien playing three of Boise State’s four games) that he would have thrown exactly zero touchdown passes, what would you have said? Rypien is completing 60 percent of his throws for 521 yards and two interceptions. His pass efficiency rating is 114.7. A reminder on that stat: 170 is excellent, 150 is good, 130 is average and 110 is bad. But Rypien has had a lot of help in his struggles—no running game, a shaky offensive line, and dropped passes. “He can’t catch ‘em, too,” said Harsin.
Second and long has been going on for too long at Boise State. After all, a team that averages 117 yards per game rushing will face unfortunate scenarios on second down a lot. Take the loss to Virginia, for example. The Broncos snapped the ball 27 times in first down situations, and 14 times they ended up at second-and-eight or longer. That’s one thing that allowed the Cavaliers to pin their ears back against Rypien and Montell Cozart. It kills third down conversions (Boise State was 4-of-16). There’s this, though: the Broncos finally converted their first fourth down this season in mop-up time against Virginia.
Here we are in the month of October, one that used to be a bonanza for Boise State. One of the most under-the-radar streaks in college football this century was the Broncos’ 50-game October winning streak that lasted from 2001 to 2013. There were some dandies in there. In fact, the second win in that run was the landmark 2001 upset of No. 8 Fresno State. About midway through was the 69-67 quadruple overtime victory in 2007 against Nevada in Colin Kaepernick’s first start for the Wolf Pack. How did the streak end? With a 37-20 loss to BYU in Provo in Chris Petersen’s final season at Boise State.
Now, we’ve already reached the halfway point in the 12-year series between Boise State and the Cougars. The Broncos won their first two games versus BYU in 2003 and 2004. The current series that began in 2012 has Boise State up three games-to-two. The Broncos have won in the even years at Albertsons Stadium, and BYU has won in the odd years at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It’s Boise State’s turn to shoot for a road breakthrough.
Mike Price, the former Weber State, Washington State and UTEP head coach (we’re not counting Alabama), has agreed to be the interim coach for the Miners after the forced departure of one-time Boise State offensive line coach Sean Kugler. Former Bronco offensive coordinator Brent Pease had already been fired after the first three games of the season. Other local ties on the UTEP staff: the defensive coordinator is Tom Mason, who was Boise State’s interim coach in 1996 when Pokey Allen was away battling cancer, and the D-line coach is Andrew Browning, a starting defensive tackle at BSU when Kugler was on the staff for the first Fiesta Bowl win in 2006. Price’s first game will be Saturday night against Western Kentucky and coach Mike Sanford, the former Bronco offensive coordinator.
There’s a much different defensive dynamic at Idaho as the Vandals prepare to host Louisiana-Lafayette for homecoming Saturday in the Kibbie Dome. Remember all those years when defense, especially pass defense, was Idaho’s Achilles heel? Not so anymore, as the Vandals have been outstanding out of the gate. They’re allowing just 151.5 yards per game through the air, the top mark in the Sun Belt and No. 8 in the country. Idaho has held three of its four opponents to fewer than 200 passing yards and has allowed just two touchdown passes this season. The Vandals have given up just two passing plays of 30-plus yards. The only thing lacking is interceptions, as there have only been two—from linebackers Ed Hall and Christian Elliss.
College of Idaho and Carroll College have something in common beyond their records (the Coyotes are 1-4 and the Fighting Saints are 1-3). When the two teams meet Saturday in Helena, MT, there’ll be a lot of Idahoans on the field. While the Yotes’ recruiting footprint has widened since the football program was revived in 2014, they still have 35 Idaho kids on the roster. Carroll, which used to be the prime landing spot for NAIA-level players out of the Gem State, is still a force in that department. The Saints’ roster features 20 Idahoans, including starting quarterback Tanner Gustavsen out of Boise High. C of I has its own former Boise Brave at QB, Tyler Cox.
As preseason practice takes root this week, it’ll be interesting to track Justinian Jessup with the Boise State men’s basketball team through this winter. The 6-6 sophomore guard was listed at 193 pounds last season—now he’s up to 200. That may be only seven pounds, but Jessup looks thicker. That could make him scrappier out on the wing. We already knew the 2015 Colorado 4A Player of the Year could shoot. Jessup made 50 three-pointers as a true freshman, the second-most treys by a freshman in Bronco history behind Anthony Drmic’s 57 in 2011-12. Jessup also started 31 games last season, setting a Boise State freshman record.
The first of the former Boise Hawks in the postseason will suit up tonight when the Colorado Rockies go to Chase Field in Phoenix for the National League Wild Card game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. And we very well could see pitcher Chris Rusin at some point. He hasn’t thrown since last Tuesday—and he had a solid season, his best as a big-leaguer, going 5-1 with a 2.65 ERA. Rusin played for Boise in 2009 and had a hard-luck season. His ERA was a serviceable 3.48 in eight starts, but his record was 0-4.
This Day In Sports…October 4, 1955:
The Brooklyn Dodgers, behind a complete-game shutout from Johnny Podres, beat the New York Yankees 2-0 in Game 7 to finally win a World Series. Dodger leftfielder Sandy Amoros, a late-inning defensive replacement, made an incredible running, game-saving catch of Yogi Berra’s fly down the line in the sixth inning—still one of the all-time highlight reel plays in World Series history. Now the L.A. Dodgers, with the best record in baseball this season, seek their first World Series title since they beat the Oakland A’s in 1988.
(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.)