There is, of course, no guarantee that Spencer Danielson will get the permanent job at Boise State. He’s a candidate, having been interviewed Sunday by Jeramiah Dickey and the search committee. Danielson is 2-0, and that the Broncos love him unconditionally is beyond debate. What if he wins the Mountain West championship over UNLV Saturday? But there’s a lot that goes into this. And Dickey surely has several names that check all the boxes. If Danielson isn’t hired, well, I think Dickey will handle it the right way. And I think we know what kind of person Danielson is. He won’t be bitter. Certainly not outwardly. I would expect him to talk to the team, and calm their fears, and tell them everything’s going to be okay in an effort to prevent a march into the transfer portal. Something will happen within a week, one way or another.
ONE MW NO-BRAINER, ONE NATIONAL SNUB
Was there any other choice? As it turns out, no. Ashton Jeanty is the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year with his 1,109 rushing yards, 534 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. He’s the third Bronco to win the award, joining Brett Rypien in 2018 and Kellen Moore in 2011. Joining Jeanty on the All-Mountain West first team are offensive tackle Cade Beresford, defensive end Ahmed Hassanein and punter James Ferguson-Reynolds. But there was also this yesterday. Ferguson-Reynolds, the nation’s leading punter, was not one of the three finalists unveiled Tuesday for the Ray Guy Award. JFR is averaging 50.1 yards per punt, which would be the fourth-highest number in NCAA history if the season ended today. I hate to complain about awards, but in this case, holy moly.
AIR FORCE GAME WAS THE PAYOFF
Something that was almost unfathomable a month ago is now reality: Boise State in the title game at Allegiant Stadium. Let’s look at the game that got the Broncos there, the 27-19 win over Air Force last Friday. The offense had critical answers when the Falcons creeped up on the scoreboard—the beautiful 75-yard touchdown by Jeanty on the screen pass from Taylen Green on the first play after Air Force’s initial score, and Jeanty’s 50-yard TD dash to follow up the Falcons’ second score, part of a 100/100 game. On defense, you can’t take away the 68-yard run by Air Force’s Dylan Carson on the first play of the second half. But if you did, you’d have an epic performance against the Falcons’ maddening triple option: 138 yards on 44 carries, an average of just 3.2 yards per attempt.
BRONCOS’ DEFENSIVE BASICS
This week it’s back to the original issue of Boise State’s 2023 season. Can the Broncos get an A-game out of their pass defense? During this three-game winning streak, they’ve faced New Mexico, not renowned for its air attack, Utah State, which is a passing team but got whittled down to its third string quarterback by injuries, and Air Force, which hardly throws the ball (but did connect on a 38-yard gain). Now the Boise State defense has to deal with UNLV, which features quarterback Jayden Maiava, the new Mountain West Freshman of the Year. Maiava leads all FBS freshmen with a 64.1 percent completion percentage, a 152.0 pass efficiency rating, and over nine yards yards per pass attempt. In particular, we’ll see how far the Broncos secondary has come.
SACKS, BOTH FOR AND AGAINST
Sacks have been a fascinating subject at Boise State this season. On the “for” side, that category really comes into play this week against a really good passing team in the form of UNLV. The Broncos are tied for 16th in the country with 34 sacks this season, and Ahmed Hassanein is tied for sixth individually with 12 after recording a sack in his eighth straight game against Air Force the longest streak in the FBS. Now for the “sacks against” bracket, equally important this week. Boise State is 12th in the country with just 13 sacks allowed. Just five years ago, Brett Rypien’s senior year, the Broncos gave up 32 sacks. It’s a testament to the offensive line and the job position coach Tim Keane has done with it. And that doesn’t begin to tell you about the O-line’s dominance in the run game.
A SLIVER OF A MERGER
It’s looking like Oregon State and Washington State will at least be a peripheral part of the Mountain West next year. Ross Dellenger of Yahoo! Sports reports that, according to sources, OSU and Wazzu are finalizing a 2024 football scheduling agreement with the Mountain West and will pay the conference a $14 million fee. Each MW school would play either the Beavers or the Cougars, not counted in the standings. And with Oregon State already on Boise State’s schedule, there’s a chance the Broncos could play them both.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT EVERY NIGHT
Boise State hoops took its lumps on its East Coast road trip. Between a road game at Clemson and the ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando, the Broncos went 1-3. It was a little bit of everything in the losses: poor rebounding at Clemson, too many turnovers against Virginia Tech, and abysmal shooting versus Butler. Of those maladies, the shooting Sunday against the Bulldogs was the most alarming. Boise State shot just 32 percent from the field and went 5-of-30, less than 17 percent, from three-point range. The team’s two guards, Max Rice and Roddie Anderson III, are a combined 29-of-99 from the field on the season.
TWO UNDERACHIEVING TEAMS (SO FAR)
Boise State, now 3-3, has gone through some early-season adversity before—like last year, with the losses to South Dakota State and Charlotte. And two years ago, with the legendary train wreck against Cal State Bakersfield. Then the Broncos made the NCAA Tournament each season. So they’ve been here before. But getting well against Saint Mary’s Friday night at the Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls might be a tall order. The Gaels lost by only seven points to Utah Monday night, and they won by 34 last Friday over Davidson, a team that gave Clemson all sorts of trouble. But coach Randy Bennett’s team is only 3-4. It’s a bit Jekyll & Hyde, having fallen to San Diego State by 25 after topping New Mexico by 14.
THE DOME IS HOME FOR THE PLAYOFFS
It’s here this week: Idaho’s first home game in the FCS Playoffs in 30 years, as Southern Illinois comes to the Kibbie Dome on Saturday. And it’s on ESPN2 to boot. The Salukis are 8-4 and lost just 17-10 last month to South Dakota State, Vandals coach Jason Eck’s former school. The first-round bye came at a good time for Idaho, or so it hopes. Quarterback Gevani McCoy missed the regular season finale against Idaho State with an injury—but Eck says last year’s winner of the Jerry Rice Award has been a full participant in practice this week. Either way, Hayden Hatten is expected to be doing his thing for the Vandals. Hatten, the school record-holder in career touchdown receptions, is 20 yards away from a second 1,000-yard season.
COUNTING ON THE YOTES TO SCORE MORE THAN 6
There may be a few fifth-year College of Idaho Coyotes who remember the team’s first trip to the NAIA Playoffs of the modern era. That was in 2019—a frustrating 14-6 loss at Grand View University in Des Moines, IA. After their wild 49-42 win at Montana Western last week, the Yotes are back in the NAIA quarterfinals, and they’ll face Grand View on the road again Saturday. C of I couldn’t have much more momentum offensively. In Dillon, former Timberline High standout Andy Peters threw for a school-record 420 yards and two touchdowns. And how about this box score line from wide receiver and Wildcat back Jon Schofield: six carries, 15 yards, four touchdowns.
STEELIES: 2022 DÉJÀ VU
The Idaho Steelheads had an unprecedented 13 returning players from last year’s roster when the season dawned a month and a half ago. So it’s not a shock that the Steelheads are playing as well as they were last fall. It’s just that last season’s team set the bar so high. No matter. The Steelies have won seven games in a row and are now 14-2. They lead the ECHL with 81 goals in those 16 games. And the old standbys are standing up—captain A.J. White nabbed his second hat trick of the season in last Saturday’s 5-3 win at Rapid City and has been named ECHL Player of the Week. The Steelheads are back home this week, and the Newfoundland Growlers have traveled from far, far away for a three-game series beginning tonight in Idaho Central Arena.
THE A’S BECOME THE B’S
The city of Oakland is going from the American League to the Pioneer League, introducing the new Oakland Ballers. And yes, Boise Hawks general manager Mike Van Hise confirms that the Ballers will be on the schedule next year, hopefully at Memorial Stadium. It’s at least a distraction from the extremely sour process that has ripped the A’s away from Oakland. The Ballers, who will be nicknamed the B’s, certainly aren’t meant to replace Major League Baseball in the hearts of East Bay fans. But those who go will enjoy the intimate atmosphere, and they’ll root, root, root for the home team.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ROSENDAHL FOOT & SHOE CENTER…the home of happier feet!
November 29, 2010: It had only been 5½ months since Boise State had announced its move to the Mountain West, but the conference had an entirely different look as the third of its “big three” in football announces its departure. TCU planned a move to the Big East, effective in 2012, following Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independence). That effectively ended any hopes the Mountain West had of becoming a BCS conference. TCU had thought the Big East was going to remain a BCS league, but the Horned Frogs were able to escape to the Big 12 before ever playing a game in the crumbling Big East.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)