The Boise State quote of the day Wednesday came not from Bryan Harsin, but from Marcel Yates. The quote of the day Wednesday as Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and his coordinators met the media came not from Harsin, but from defensive coordinator Marcel Yates. “For the past month, month and a half, I’ve been hearing about how great our defense is going to be and that’s just been driving me crazy,” said Yates. “We don’t look at it that way. We weren’t a great defense last year. I don’t know where this ‘great’ came from.” You get the feeling Yates can’t get the Nevada and New Mexico games last year out of his head, and that’s a good thing. It brings the Broncos right back down to earth. Remember the Alamo, er, Albuquerque. Boise State allowed 417 rushing yards and 42 points to the Lobos—in the first half. Yates would remind you: that’s not great. There’s a long way to go.
The door is open right now for Boise State running backs Jack Fields and Devan Demas, but it won’t be open long. They have to get noticed in the first week of fall camp. The Texans came in together in 2012, with former coach Chris Petersen electing to play Fields as a true freshman while Demas redshirted. Now Fields is a senior and Demas a junior, and neither has been able to gain a foothold in the backfield. Fields has gained just 305 yards rushing in his career, with one touchdown and a three yards-per-carry average.
Demas is explosive once he breaks free—he had a 73-yard scamper last season. But, coach Bryan Harsin says, “He’s got to break free. He’s got to hang onto the football, like all the other guys.” The latter point probably refers to a couple unfortunate fumbles Demas had in the Blue & Orange Game in April. A couple of long runs has helped Demas average 6.5 yards per carry in his two seasons; he’s rushed for 298 yards. Fields and Demas are perched behind Jeremy McNichols and the Young brothers, Kelsey and Cory, on the Bronco depth chart right now.
There’s an increasing drumbeat in Seattle that points to Jake Browning starting at quarterback this season for Washington. If it happens, Browning would only be the second true freshman to do that for UW (the other was Marques Tuiasosopo in 1997). Huskies coach Chris Petersen has never played a true freshman QB in his years as a head coach. But Browning wanted a shot—hence his early graduation from high school so he could enroll in time for spring football. Petersen said at Pac-12 Media Days that Browning is “definitely in the mix” to trot out on the blue turf in four weeks as he competes with senior Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels. Browning threw 229 touchdown passes in high school in Folsom, CA, a national prep record (Kellen Moore’s state of Washington record, incidentally, was 173).
Fall camps—they’re everywhere. The College of Idaho begins its second fall camp of the modern era Sunday in Caldwell. The Coyotes have been picked to tie for sixth place in the preseason Frontier Conference Coaches’ Poll after a 4-7 season that was fairly remarkable for a school coming off a 37-year hiatus from football. The Yotes were young by definition as a start-up program, and this year they return all 11 starters on offense and nine more on defense.
Around the horn with happy campers and not-so-happy campers. Utah State begins drills today in Logan, and coach Matt Wells is just glad the summer is over. In June, he and the Aggies had to deal with the car wreck that seriously injured four USU football players and a softball player. Naturally, it made the team closer. “I don’t think we needed it to bring us together,” said Wells at Mountain West Media Days. “Anytime you have reactions to adversity, it brings you together. You love a little harder every day.” BYU begins fall camp tomorrow, and yesterday came the bombshell that star running back Jamaal Williams is using a redshirt year to deal with some personal issues. The Cougars’ storyline all during the offseason was getting Williams and quarterback Taysom Hill back full-force this year after their 2014 injuries.
Joe Martarano is immersed in football again with Boise State fall camp underway. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see the sophomore linebacker in the stands at Memorial Stadium Sunday, Monday and/or Tuesday when the Eugene Emeralds visit the Boise Hawks for the first time this season. Martarano spent a chunk of the summer with the Chicago Cubs’ Northwest League affiliate. He got into only four games, though, and went 2-for-15. As for the Hawks, they’re in Hillsboro, and they fell to the Hops 8-4 first of a three-game series last night.
Les Bois Park wraps up the 2015 season with the Idaho Cup races tonight and tomorrow. It’s by far the richest two days of the calendar, with Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses competing for more than $400,000 in purses. Here’s your checklist. Tonight’s card includes the Idaho Cup Derby, Idaho Cup Sprint, Idaho Cup Futurity, and the Idaho Cup Claiming Stakes. Tomorrow’s lineup features the John Deere Juvenile Challenge, Merial Distaff Challenge, Bank of America Challenge Championship, Idaho Cup Juvenile, Idaho Cup Distaff Derby, Idaho Cup Thoroughbred Derby, Idaho Cup Ladies Classic, and the season finale, the Au Revoir.
The Wooden Legacy bracket has been officially released by ESPN Events, and Boise State and UC Irvine will play the opening game of the tournament in Fullerton, CA, at 2 p.m. Thanksgiving afternoon on ESPNU. That’s a tough time slot. There’ll be a few eyeballs drifting over to Orlando Scandrick, Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence on another channel. The Broncos and UCI are both coming off NCAA Tournament appearances last March—for the Anteaters, it was their first ever. Michigan State and Boston College play the other first-round matchup on Boise State’s side of the bracket. The other side has Arizona against Santa Clara and Providence versus Evansville.
Wow. From first to last for Troy Merritt. After winning his first PGA Tour event last weekend, the former Boise State star imploded with a 12-over 82 yesterday in the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, OH. Incredibly, Merritt bogeyed six of his first seven holes—then double-bogeyed No. 9. Later came a triple-bogey on the back nine. Merritt recorded not a single birdie on the day and is in last place. He maintained his sense of humor on Twitter, though: “Took care of 2 firsts the past 2 weeks—got my first win and shot my first round in the 80s on Tour. Golf is a funny game…”
BAM Jam Boise, the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Idaho, uncorks tomorrow and continues Sunday with 1,100 players and 275 teams from nine states and more than 100 cities. One interesting sidebar: there’ll be a number of local coaches trying to show they’ve still got it on the court. Boise State assistants John Rillie and Jeremy Harden are both playing on two different teams, as is new Northwest Nazarene assistant coach Paul Rush, late of the Capital Eagles. Games start at 8:00 tomorrow morning, with the men’s and women’s elite games to be played at the intersection of 6th and Bannock near Capitol Park.
KTVB.com Mountain West Nugget of the Day: Whereas the Mountain West was a cradle of good quarterbacks two years ago, now it’s a landing strip for transfer QBs. The most celebrated is Max Wittek, who joins Hawaii for his senior season after departing USC. Wittek walked on with the Rainbow Warriors last year and paid his own way on road trips to get assimilated into coach Norm Chow’s program. At San Diego State there’s Kentucky expatriate Maxwell Smith, Wyoming has former Indiana Hoosier Cameron Coffman, and Fresno State hopes to include West Virginia transfer Ford Childress on its roster, though there’s some question as to whether he has enough credits to be eligible this season.
This Day In Sports…August 7, 2007:
The Giants’ Barry Bonds gets it done at home in San Francisco, the one place where most fans cheer him. Bonds launched his 756th career homer to become baseball’s Home Run King, passing Hank Aaron. It was a 435-foot shot over the right-centerfield wall at AT&T Park off Washington’s Mike Bacsik. Commissioner Bud Selig was not in attendance, nor was Aaron himself, speaking volumes about how history may judge Bonds’ accomplishment.
(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.)