The Boise State offensive line had allowed 13 sacks in four games at the end of September last year. In order to avoid that number this month, the Broncos will have to limit Wyoming to fewer than five sacks on Saturday. That will be critical to their success in Laramie. Wyo is capable of creating havoc with guys like Carl Granderson on the defensive line and Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Wingard sneaking up from the secondary. In fact, even giving up four sacks may put Boise State in jeopardy. Everything looked so rosy after the rout of UConn, as opponents had gone 134 consecutive snaps without sacking Brett Rypien. Then came the seven takedowns at Oklahoma State. The Broncos have to keep that No. 4 jersey clean against this second batch of Cowboys.
Of course, the Boise State tight ends have to be partners in this effort. The group stepped up on the receiving end at Oklahoma State, as Chase Blakley and John Bates combined for 10 catches. Matt Pistone doesn’t have a reception yet—this season nor in his career—but he’s been valuable as a fullback, occasionally serving as a lead blocker for Alexander Mattison. Maybe Pistone adds protection blocking to his duties. By all accounts, Mattison has been doing a solid job in pass protect.
You may remember that Boise State was No. 129 in the country in fourth down conversions last season, making good on only three of their 17 fourth-down tries. So perhaps this number is underappreciated amidst the frustrations of Stillwater: the Broncos were 3-for-4 on fourth down conversions at Oklahoma State. Add the successful try against UConn, the only other attempt this season, and Boise State is 4-for-5 on fourth down in 2018. Not only does that represent more conversions than all of last year, it puts the Broncos in a tie for 11th in the nation currently at 80 percent. If only that stat was a little more significant right now. Hopefully they’ll convert when it really counts.
Since it’s Wyoming week, we might as well track Josh Allen with the Buffalo Bills. Good timing. The former Wyo quarterback may be answering all those questions about his worthiness as a first-round NFL Draft pick. Allen was superb Sunday, rushing for two touchdowns and keying a 27-6 road upset of Minnesota. His best run of the day came on a third down in the middle of the field, where he vaulted right over the top of Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr to scrape out three extra yards and get a first down. Bills fans are so excited about it that they’re already creating T-shirts with that leaping image of Allen. “This is the best shot the Bills have had at an elite quarterback since Jim Kelly,” writes Matt Parrino of NewYorkUpstate.com. Just hope they’re not putting the cart before the horse.
Jalen McClesky has become the flashpoint for the NCAA’s new redshirt and transfer rules. McClesky is transferring from Oklahoma State four games into the season. He played in all of them, so he’s reached the limit for any player wanting to use a redshirt year. McClesky can use the redshirt and transfer at the end of the year. The catch is: McClesky is not a true freshman. Far from it. He’s a senior who played as a true freshman, so he has a redshirt year available. McClesky had three catches for 26 yards in OSU’s win over Boise State and has logged 15 grabs for 155 yards for the season. But the yardage is fourth on the team, and he wants the ball more, kind of like 2016 when he had 73 receptions for 812 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s a different world.
Idaho’s historic first conference game since returning to the Big Sky didn’t go so well last week at UC Davis. Now the Vandals are set for their first Big Sky game in the Kibbie Dome since 1995. What will the crowd be like for Portland State? Despite threats of a boycott by the more rabid of those fans opposed to Idaho leaving the FBS, the university has reported a five-year high in season ticket sales at almost 1,900. That represents a five percent increase over last year, the Vandals’ final one in the FBS and the Sun Belt. Attendance for the Western New Mexico game 11 days ago was announced at 10,556. That’s a decent number considering the opponent was from Division II. For perspective, there was an announced crowd of just 8,179 last Saturday in Davis.
Considering the struggles of Dak Prescott with the Dallas Cowboys this season, you knew this was coming. The acid-penned Dallas bloggers need someone to blame, and first-year quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore is an easy target. Carl Daley of SportDFW.com (yes, it’s a fan site, but it’s widely read) thinks Prescott is spinning his wheels. “Some guys are born with it, some guys just don’t have it, I feel as if Dak is in between and the only thing that will bring out his elite talent is elite coaching,” writes Daley.
“My biggest concern is who is teaching him to be better? Jason Garrett was a perennial backup, Kellen Moore was, well, Kellen Moore (enough said). How can these guys teach Dak to be great if they never were?” Fine then. If Mayer gets his wish and a change is made, I know a place that believes—make that knows—Kellen would be an outstanding leader and teacher of college players. A great football mind is a terrible thing to waste.
It ain’t over yet for former Boise State star Rees Odhiambo, who’s been signed to the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. Odhiambo was released Labor Day weekend by the Seahawks, who drafted him in the third round in 2016. Ironically, his NFL career took a turn against these very Colts a year ago, when an elbow from Indy linebacker Jabaal Sheard caught Odhiambo in the sternum. He stayed in the game, but afterward he had trouble breathing, and after being attended to by emergency personnel, he was rushed to the hospital. ESPN first reported the injury as a “cardiac contusion.” Odhiambo recovered, but he was ultimately one of the fall guys for Seattle’s underperforming offensive line.
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September 26, 2013, five years ago today: The greatest closer in baseball history pitches his final game. Mariano Rivera’s farewell appearance came at home in Yankee Stadium, wrapping up a 19-year career in the Bronx. After he had retired four Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees sent Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter, teammates of Rivera from the beginning, to take him out of the game with two outs in the ninth inning, and the emotion flowed. Rivera, the all-time saves leader with 652, was last player in the big leagues to don No. 42—players already wearing it had been grandfathered in after the majors retired Jackie Robinson’s number throughout pro baseball in 1997.
(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.)