Boise State & Wyoming realities

Coaches like to say their goal is “to go 1-0 this week.” It was Wyoming who went 1-0 last week. Coaches like to say their goal is “to go 1-0 this week.” Boise State went 0-1 last week, and it was Wyoming who went 1-0. Try not to get sidetracked by the Cowboys’ 1-6 overall record. Through all its trials and tribulations, Wyo has been moving the ball on offense. Not only did Indiana transfer Cam Coffman go 18-of-20 for 213 yards and three touchdowns in last Saturday’s win over Nevada, Brian Hill rushed for 188 yards. Hill is fourth in the nation in rushing with 985 yards. The three guys ahead of him are good company—LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot.

Now the Pokes are re-energized, nobody more than coach Craig Bohl, the guy who won three straight FCS national championships at North Dakota State before going to Laramie. Bohl’s Wyoming experience has been, uh, enlightening. “I think sometimes when you win win win win win, you don’t appreciate how hard it is to win a football game,” Bohl told me this summer. That was at Mountain West Media Days, before the Cowboys’ losing streak eventually reach nine games this month. That’s a good message for disgruntled Boise State fans. How hard is it to win every single game? It’s nearly unthinkable to go 187-37 over a 17-year period. The Broncos are 150 games above .500. Think about that.

Turnovers usually lead to one thing. Losses. Boise State is a very strong case in point during the Bryan Harsin era. The Broncos have had just four defeats under Harsin, and in those they’ve coughed up a whopping 22 turnovers—versus just 16 in their 17 wins. One side note on the eight-turnover debacle in Logan. Following Utah State’s fifth touchdown of the night (thanks to another Bronco giveaway) late in the opening half, injured USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton excitedly approached a handful of players on the Aggie bench and shouted, “Boise State is handing out touchdowns like Costco samples tonight.”

Were Boise State’s national rankings on defense blown up by the 52-26 blowout at Utah State? Scoring defense did take a hit, with the Broncos dropping from seventh in the nation to 20th. They’re still allowing just 17.7 points per game, though. The other three major categories actually held steady. Boise State went from third to eighth in pass efficiency defense with a 96.3 rating, rushing defense moved from second to fifth at 77.3 yards per game, and total defense didn’t change—the Broncos remain fifth in the country, allowing 270.1 yards per game.

Boise State always likes to have coaches’ sons in the program, and this latest addition is a good one. Linebacker Ali’I Niumatalolo of Broadneck High in Annapolis, MD, the son of longtime Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, has given the Broncos a verbal commitment as part of the 2016 recruiting class, although he’s expected to serve an LDS mission and join the team in 2018. The younger Niumatalolo is a 6-1, 230-pounder and gets high marks for his “feel for the game” and his ability to read offenses.

There’s already one conference game set in the Mountain West for the 2016 season. It’s Saturday, October 15, when Air Force will play New Mexico—at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. It’s timed to happen during the State Fair of Texas, one week after the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma, which is always part of that event. Air Force will be the host team. They’re billing it as the Falcons’ first trip to the historic venue since they tied TCU 0-0 in the 1959 Cotton Bowl. Okay. But can you imagine Boise State ever giving up a home game? Remember when Oregon tried to get the Broncos to move their 2009 season opener against the Ducks to Beijing or Shanghai? Boise State refused unless UO scheduled another game on the blue turf.

Idaho’s Austin Rehkow, he of the four field goals that helped the Vandals to their first road win in four years last Saturday, has been named Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week. The last boot was the game-winner in the 19-16 victory at Troy. The junior from Spokane is 11-of-12 on field goal attempts this season—he is eighth nationally in both fields goals per game and field goal percentage. Rehkow’s leg is likely to be a factor again sometime this season. The Vandals return to the Kibbie Dome this Saturday for homecoming versus Louisiana-Monroe. It’s an eminently winnable game, as the Warhawks limp into Moscow at 1-5 this season. ULM is favored over Idaho by two points, though.

The College of Idaho has a Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Week, tight end Marcus Lenhardt. The Eagle High grad turned in a milestone-laden game as the Coyotes stopped Rocky Mountain College 38-17 last week. Lenhardt had eight receptions for 143 yards and three scores in recording the fourth 100-yard game of his career. His 143 yards were the most by a Yote since 1969, and the three touchdown grabs were the most by a C of I receiver since 1961. Lenhardt and the Coyotes are gunning for a third straight victory Saturday, but it’ll be tough against second-ranked Southern Oregon in Ashland.

What a way to test the road for the first time this season. The Idaho Steelheads open a three-game series against Alaska tonight in Anchorage (where it’s not that cold…yet). The Aces, coming off a season when they uncharacteristically missed the Kelly Cup Playoffs, dropped two of three home games to the Missouri Mavericks on opening weekend. Power play scoring could be hard to come by this week. The Steelheads’ penalty-kill until went 12-for-13 last weekend, while Alaska was 11-for-12. Individually last week, Cole Martin became the first Steelies rookie defenseman to score in his first two pro games since Idaho joined the ECHL in 2003.

Four Boise State tennis standouts head to the USTA/ITA Mountain Regional Championships in Albuquerque beginning today, with their eyes on the National Indoor Championships next month in New York. All four Broncos are seeded in a field that includes players from more than 20 schools. Leading the way is senior Thomas Tenreiro, who is seeded fifth in singles and third in doubles, while fellow senior Toby Mitchell has a No. 10 seed in singles and a No. 8 in doubles. Also making the trip are sophomore Englishman Lewis Roskilly and freshman New Zealander Kyle Butters.

Finally, after five years without, the Idaho Stampede are going to get their games back on the radio. All 50 Stampede contests will be broadcast on KFXD (630 AM), with longtime team play-by-play man Mark Snider returning to the regular airwaves. Furthermore, all 24 Stampede home games from CenturyLink Arena will be telecast live on CableOne Channel 72. The Stamps open the season November 13 at Rio Grande Valley—their home opener is November 18 against Iowa.

This Day In Sports…October 21, 2000, 15 years ago today:

Boise State opens the final season of Big West play with a 59-0 annihilation of North Texas, the Broncos’ first shutout in 13 years. BSU outgained the Mean Green 583 yards to 162, with freshman tailback David Mikell rushing for 122 yards and three touchdowns—and freshman quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie throwing the first of his 82 career touchdown passes. The Broncos would go unbeaten in the Big West on their way to a second straight title and Humanitarian Bowl championship.

(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.