Eyes in the stands will naturally gravitate toward the quarterbacks tonight at Boise State’s only public scrimmage. Eyes in the stands will naturally gravitate toward the quarterbacks tonight as Boise State’s only public scrimmage of fall camp unfolds at Albertsons Stadium—two weeks before the kickoff against Washington. Has the gap really closed between presumed starter Ryan Finley and challengers Tommy Stuart, Alex Ogle and Brett Rypien? Also pay attention to which defense is in the game. If one of the QBs is particularly hot, is it against the No. 2 secondary (or lower)? Or, if he isn’t particularly hot, does that mean those No. 2 (or lower) defensive backs are ready for prime time? None of the cornerbacks among the backups has played a snap of college football. The primary candidates at this point are transfer Ray Ford of Riverside City College and true freshmen Tyler Horton of Fresno and Darreon Jackson of Derby, KS.
Watch what happens up front tonight. The quarterbacks need to be able to trust the Boise State offensive line to protect them. The O-line had a good year in 2014, and all five starters are back. But there was one wart. The Broncos allowed 28 sacks last season after yielding 26 in 2013. Those numbers came on the heels of six straight years of 13 sacks or less (three seasons in single digits). Circling the wagons around the QBs is a must with a new signal-caller at the helm. “As an O-line, we just have to get better at communicating,” said left tackle Rees Odhiambo at Mountain West Media Days. “Click a little quicker at the line of scrimmage and go from there.”
Boise State has been naming a “Newcomer of the Day” on its website during fall camp. Many of them are true freshmen—and, after tonight’s scrimmage, most of those won’t be seen again on the field by fans until next spring. So let’s use this opportunity to say “fare thee well” to Wednesday’s newcomer honoree, Garrett Larson, as he heads off to the scout team. The 6-4 offensive lineman was the Broncos’ first commit of the 2015 recruiting class, building on the Fruitland pipeline that has already produced linebacker Joe Martarano and tight end Alec Dhaenens. Larson, a three-time first-team All-State 3A pick, was listed as 250 pounds when he gave his verbal. Boise State’s official roster has him at 282 now. He’ll be ready to rumble in 2016.
Word of Idaho coach Paul Petrino’s verbal dust-up with Michael-Shawn Dugar of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News spread virally yesterday. According to Dugar, Petrino dressed him down with some profanities at the end of Wednesday’s practice after the reporter had been critical of quarterback Matt Linehan and his lack of deep throws, calling the Vandal passing game a “work in progress.” According to Dugar, Petrino shouted, “You don’t even know what the (expletive) you’re talking about! Do your (expletive) job!” Dugar also claimed Linehan had to be restrained during the confrontation. Later, Petrino apologized for his language but denied ever having to be restrained. It really sounds like this could have stayed on the practice field.
Thursday was not a good day for off-field/off-court news. Former Boise State defensive end Sam Ukwuachu, dismissed by coach Chris Petersen two years ago after a year that saw him named a Freshman All-American, landed at Baylor later in 2013. But Ukwuachu has never played for the Bears, and he probably never will. He was found guilty yesterday of the sexual assault of a former Baylor soccer player.
Dezmyn Trent has been suspended by Boise State before. Now he’s gone for good. The men’s basketball program has dismissed the junior guard after his arrest for involvement in two drive-by shootings in Tacoma. Trent apparently is in custody. “This program believes strongly in offering young men an opportunity to succeed,” said coach Leon Rice in a statement released by the university. “Unfortunately it appears as if Dezmyn still has some obstacles that he needs to overcome.” Trent’s career never quite got off the ground—he played in 31 games over two seasons for the Broncos and averaged 2.9 points per game.
Kellen Moore is back where he started—in the No. 3 quarterback spot for Detroit. The former Boise State star played just two series in the fourth quarter of the Lions’ 21-17 loss to Washington last night at FedEx Field. Both drives resulted in punts. Dan Orlovsky was first off the bench and played well, going 13-of-17 for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Moore, who was sacked on his first pass attempt, went 3-of-7 for 31 yards. Jeron Johnson, meanwhile, got considerable playing time for the Redskins and recorded three tackles.
The hope is that Jay Ajayi will be able to play tonight when the Miami Dolphins visit the Carolina Panthers. Ajayi returned to the practice field last Saturday and was in action yesterday when the Dolphins and Panthers held a joint practice in Spartanburg, S.C. In fact, the former Boise State star’s recovery from a hamstring injury a week and a half ago may have happened before the very eyes of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly. “Jay Ajayi is now trying to stretch out his left leg,” blogged Kelly. Then, “Jay Ajayi with a nice 20-plus run to the left. Seems like the rookie has his legs back. He bounced it outside, like usual.” Jay-Train fans have their fingers crossed.
It’s not only players who seek to go from the Idaho Steelheads to the NHL. Former Steelheads play-by-play man Doug Plagens as been named the new Voice of the Florida Panthers. Plagens was in the booth for 2½ seasons before leaving midway through the 2010-11 campaign (replaced by current announcer Will Hoenike). Also, the Steelheads have announced they’ll have forward Colton Beck back in the fold. Beck, who scored 49 points in 65 games for Idaho last season and won the team’s “Unsung Hero” award, finished the campaign with five game-winning goals, tied for second-most among all ECHL rookies.
The newest team in the D-League, Raptors 905 (proudly playing for an area code), has selected 16 players in the league’s expansion draft. The Toronto affiliate picked up the rights to three players who have Idaho Stampede experience. The most prominent is guard Dee Bost, who led the D-League in assists with 418 when he played for the Stamps in 2013-14. Bost is currently playing for Stelmet Zielonga Gora in Poland. Raptors 905 also has the rights to Nolan Smith, who spent time in Boise in 2012-13 while on assignment from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Former Bishop Kelly Knight Nick Symmonds is just plain out of the World Track and Field Championships that begin tomorrow in Beijing. USA Track and Field did not bend after the two-time Olympian refused to sign a document earlier this month pledging to wear Nike gear while in China. It’s a shame. Symmonds won his fifth national championship in the 800 meters in June and was expected to medal at worlds—he won silver at the 2013 World Championships.
This Day In Sports…August 21, 1931:
The Yankees’ Babe Ruth hits the 600th home run of his major league career off St. Louis Browns pitcher George Blaeholder. Four years and 114 homers to go at that point for the Babe. Ruth was still in the prime of his career—the next year, he would hit his famous “called shot” at Wrigley Field in the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.
(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.)