A look at the “ORs” rowing the depth chart

The word “OR” has become a prominent part of the Boise State depth chart, the first of which is out for 2015. Sometimes it keeps the opponent guessing. Sometimes it keeps the media guessing. It surely keeps the players competing. But the word “OR” has become a prominent part of the Boise State depth chart, the first of which was released yesterday for the 2015 season. There are two “ORs” involving starters, and both are mild surprises. At nose tackle, Armand Nance and Justin Taimatuia are listed as co-starters. Nance is the inspitational leader of the defense, but Taimatuia has expanded on the raw potential he showed as a junior college transfer in 2013—before an injury sidelined him for the season last year. And at linebacker, where Ben Weaver has been an absolute force, Tyler Gray gets an “OR.” Gray just won’t go away. He makes plays, the most significant of which last season was his 32-yard pick-six at Nevada.

Among the second-teamers, the “OR” at quarterback will keep the water-cooler talk going. Boise State lists the three guys behind Ryan Finley as co-backups, in order of class standing. There you have Tommy Stuart, Alex Ogle and Brett Rypien on the sheet as the showdown with Washington approaches this Friday night. Will Rypien redshirt this year? “I think that’s to be determined down the road,” said coach Bryan Harsin yesterday at his first game-week press conference of the season. “As we go through this week, if he’s prepared to play, he’s prepared to play. We’ll do what’s best for him—for this football team.”

As for who the active true freshmen will be for Boise State? There won’t be many, but cornerback Tyler Horton seems sure to play. Horton was the only player mentioned by defensive coordinator Marcel Yates yesterday, but Harsin threw in the possibility of a second cornerback, Darreon Jackson, and wide receiver Akilian Butler appearing sometime soon. “He’ll get reps this week,” Harsin said of Butler. Horton has been identified as a playmaker from the get-go, while Jackson and Butler have played their way into true freshmen consideration.

Harsin let the cat out of the bag yesterday: the Broncos are going to wear all-blue this Friday night for the return of Coach Pete. “Oh yeah,” he said. “Oh yeah.” The scene in Albertsons Stadium Friday night should be as loud as it’s ever been, the 2009 Oregon game included. Harsin expects no less. “One of the best atmospheres in college football,” he predicted. “I hope we set the bar as high as it can possibly be. I hope it’s better than it’s ever been, and I hope we’re doing things better than they’ve ever been done.”

Boise State players have voted on two senior captains for the 2015 season: safety Darian Thompson and center Marcus Henry. They’ll be joined by single-game captains week-to-week. Henry feels the love. “It meant the world,” he said. “It’s such an honor to be voted that by your teammates.” This Friday night will be unique for Henry. He grew up in Bellevue, across Lake Washington from Seattle, and the Huskies were his team growing up. But alas, he committed to Boise State and Chris Petersen before UW started showing serious interest. What a dynamic that creates now. “I’m just really excited—to see that staff on the other side of the field and see some of my friends that play for Washington.”

Petersen announced yesterday that he won’t announce his starting quarterback until gametime this Friday, but he has made his decision. “We just really don’t think it’s an advantage to us to tell you our strategy right now at that position,” Petersen said at his Sunday press conference.” Many are betting that true freshman Jake Browning has the nod over junior Jeff Limdquist and redshirt freshman K.J. Carta- Samuels. Then again, UW offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith has pointed out often that the Huskies’ offensive line is inexperienced, with five new starters this year. That’s a lot a pressure for a guy less than a year removed from high school. Keep in mind, though, that Browning graduated early from Folsom High in California and enrolled early at UW in order to participate in spring football.

Mike Moroski has been around long enough to work the system, meaning he adapts his system to his personnel. Moroski did that Saturday, finding a perfect match for his Wildcat formation, former Vallivue standout J.J. Hyde, as the College of Idaho won its season opener 40-28 over Eastern Oregon at Simplot Stadium. The victory over the Mountaineers, No. 13 in the NAIA, was the Coyotes’ first ever over a ranked team. Hyde rushed for 85 yards and three touchdowns in his first live-game action in six years (he redshirted at Utah in 2010 before going on a two-year LDS mission). The other story Saturday was the Yotes defense, which has made a quantum leap since the program’s born-again 2014 season. The C of I held Eastern Oregon to 321 yards—and limited All-America running back Jace Billingsley to just 59 yards on 16 carries.

Is the writing on the wall for Kellen Moore? Only he knows for sure. But with Matthew Stafford playing the entire first half in Detroit’s 22-17 win at Jacksonville Friday night, and with Dan Orlovsky first off the bench, the former Boise State great didn’t take the field until less than four minutes remained in the game. Moore drove the Lions to the winning touchdown after a Jaguars turnover, but he threw just one pass, completing it for six yards. Moore had a nicely-thrown two-point conversion attempt dropped after the Lions’ TD. At best, Moore is Detroit’s No. 3 quarterback…again.

The Boise Hawks have been cooled in Keizer, OR. After a five-game winning streak, the Hawks dropped a pair to Salem-Keizer over the weekend, including a 4-2 loss yesterday that saw them leave nine runners on base. The highlight of the weekend was Friday night when Colin Welmon, Matt Meier and Craig Schlepper combined on a five-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory over the Volcanoes, aided by a three-run homer off the bat of Nate Causey. The Hawks have their final day off of the season today before returning to Memorial Stadium tomorrow night to open a three-game series against Hillsboro.

Troy Merritt did just enough the past four days at The Barclays—enough to make the cut and enough to finish tied for 53rd in the first leg of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs. The former Boise State star dropped from 43rd to 48th in FedExCup standings, but that’s enough to qualify him for the Deutsche Bank Championship beginning this Friday. Ex-Bronco Graham DeLaet is out of the playoffs, though, after missing the cut at The Barclays. He’s staying positive. DeLaet had this tweet Friday: “New 3 wood cover ready for playoffs and start of college football season!” It was a blue-and-orange head cover with a Bronco logo. Hope it didn’t jinx him.

Finally, best wishes to Will Hoenike, the longtime voice and media relations guy for the Idaho Steelheads and CenturyLink Arena. Hoenike, who sometimes seems to work around the clock in the winter, is taking a day job with the United Dairymen of Idaho. He related a story about his two-year-old daughter saying one day, “I don’t want you to go any more.” Of course, Hoenike says, it came out like, “No wanna you to go more.” He enthusiastically thanked Steelheads president Eric Trapp and his staff—now he looks forward to being a fan.

This Day In Sports…August 31, 2013:

Washington revels in the celebration of the grand re-opening of Husky Stadium and gets revenge against Boise State for a loss in the Las Vegas Bowl eight months earlier, routing the Broncos 38-6. An overflow crowd of 71,963 fans watched the Huskies win the battle of new no-huddle offenses by rolling up 592 yards behind senior quarterback Keith Price. It was Boise State’s largest margin of defeat in eight years and the worst loss in the career of coach Chris Petersen, whose remarkable Bronco record dropped to 84-9. It was just over three months later that Petersen would become UW’s new coach.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)