Boise State fans have never rooted harder for a former Bronco in the NFL than Kellen Moore. So there’s never been a bigger collective groan from them than the one last night when it was learned Moore had broken his ankle in practice at Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, CA. Just when it looked like years of toil had paid off with a backup spot behind Tony Romo and a chance to see the field more this year, misfortune strikes. The Cowboys are still evaluating X-rays—Kellen is expected to be out at least eight weeks at any rate. He went through four record-breaking seasons at Boise State, three on the Detroit Lions practice squad, and one in Dallas that included action in three regular season games without serious injury before last night.
Moore played the final three games and started the last two for the Cowboys last season, capped by his 435-yard performance in the finale against Washington in January. The injury creates competition between Jameill Showers, a practice squad quarterback last year, and fourth-round draft pick Dak Prescott for the No. 2 spot behind Romo (unless Dallas signs somebody new). “Smart guy,” Showers said of Moore in the Dallas Morning News. “One of the smartest football players I’ve ever been around. He’s actually helped me a lot. Protections, I definitely struggled with protections last season. Any questions I had he answered them for me. Great guy.”
Former Boise State star Kamalei Correa is working with Baltimore’s first-team defense in training camp, and he’s drawing a lot of attention as a result—mostly through a well-publicized scrap with wide receiver Mike Wallace. But these things happen all the time in camp. “The second-round pick ruffled some feathers in (another) scuffle with Dennis Pitta, then got a talking to from his quarterback,” writes Ryan Mink on the Ravens website. “But Correa also impressed with a fingertips interception (of Joe Flacco).” It would quite the story if Correa went from defensive end in Boise one year to starting inside linebacker in the NFL the next. But it could shake out that way with the Ravens.
Fall camp begins tomorrow at Boise State, and storylines abound. Looking at the Bronco offense, you see the importance of Brett Rypien staying healthy, and the offensive line shoring up the sack barrier, and finding a go-to backup behind Jeremy McNichols at running back. But I keep coming back to versatility at wide receiver. Boise State has to develop a “second wave” at wideout beyond Thomas Sperbeck, Chaz Anderson and presumed No. 3 starter Cedrick Wilson (in place of Shane Williams-Rhodes). It’s a subject that comes up every August, but it’s been awhile since a second wave materialized. There’s a legit chance this season, though, with a group of hopefuls led by A.J. Richardson, Sean Modster and Akilian Butler. The Broncos are determined to spread the ball around more this year.
Without prompting at Mountain West Media Days last week, coach Bryan Harsin singled out Richardson and Modster as as wide receivers who have stepped it up. “What you saw in the spring game has carried over for Modster,” said Harsin, who noted that a Bronco priority will be working on utilizing their depth at that position in fall camp. Harsin will no doubt expound on that today at his pre-fall camp press conference. The last time Boise State had four different wide receivers log more than 25 catches in a season was 2013, when Matt Miller broke the school record with 88 receptions (tied last year by Sperbeck). Miller was joined by Shane Williams-Rhodes with 77 grabs, Geraldo Boldewijn with 39 and Kirby Moore with 34. And Aaron Burks added 18 that year.
Media Days of all kinds this week. The Frontier Conference held its event yesterday in Great Falls, MT, and Southern Oregon emerged as the pick to win the league this fall. College of Idaho, entering its third season since reviving the football program after a 37-year absence, was picked fifth in the eight-team conference. The Coyotes, who have gone 4-7 each of the past two seasons, open fall camp a week from Saturday.
The Boise Hawks had contributors last night in the second annual Northwest League-Pioneer League All-Star Game. Jacob Bosiokovic went 2-for-5 and Garrett Hampson 1-for-3 with an RBI in the NWL’s 11-5 victory in Ogden. Hawks closer Julian Fernandez retired both batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth. Did you know? Boise had a team in the Pioneer League for 25 seasons, from 1939-63. It was known at various times as the Yankees, Pilots and Braves and played in a classic old wooden ballpark on the site of the current Municipal Park.
Josh Osich will have to be on his game to regain his role with the San Francisco Giants once he comes off the disabled list. The Bishop Kelly grad was placed on the 15-day DL last Thursday, retroactive to July 24, with a forearm strain. In the meantime, the Giants acquired reliever Will Smith from Milwaukee in a trade deadline deal Monday. Smith is expected to serve as a left-handed set-up man for closer Santiago Casilla, although he allowed two runs in 1/3 of an inning last night in his Giants debut during a 13-8 loss in Philadelphia. Osich had a ERA as low as 1.84 in mid-May—now it’s 4.15. The 27-year-old leftie posted a 5.06 ERA in July.
Boise State men’s basketball players have been able to get a glimpse of Damian Lillard up-close-and-personal as they prepare for their trip to Costa Rica next week. Lillard has been working out at Boise State with Bronco assistant coach Phil Beckner. The Portland Trail Blazers star tweeted a shout-out to BSU guard Paris Austin Sunday: “Out here in @HumbleGuy_Paris neck of the woods…” Beckner in turn tweeted a photo of Lillard being coached by him in the Broncos’ practice facility adjacent to Taco Bell Arena. Beckner, Leon Rice’s new staffer who was most recently at Nebraska, worked closely with Lillard during his four years at Weber State.
Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball has picked up a couple Division I transfers as it heads into season No. 2 under coach Scott Flemming. One is a graduate transfer from Nevada, Kaileb Rodriguez. The 6-9 forward played in 61 games over two seasons for the Wolf Pack, averaging 1.0 points and 1.9 rebounds. Rodriguez redshirted at Cal out of high school—he has one year of eligibility remaining. The other is Haroldas Saprykinas, a 6-2 junior shooting guard from UC Irvine who hails from Lithuania. Saprykinas played in 45 games for the Anteaters and averaged 1.7 points while shooting 38 percent from three-point range.
KTVB.com Mountain West Factoid of the Day: When Bryan Harsin was hired at Boise State in December, 2013, he became the youngest head coach in the Mountain West and one of the youngest in the country. Last season he was the fifth-youngest FBS coach in the nation (at the top of the list was 34-year-old P.J. Fleck of Western Michigan). Now Harsin has been dethroned in the Mountain West. Nick Rolovich takes over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at the age of 37. To put it in perspective, Rolovich was still the starting quarterback at UH when the Broncos won at Aloha Stadium in 2001 as a first-year member of the WAC. Harsin, incidentally, will turn 40 in November.
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August 3, 2011, five years ago today: The name “Humanitarian” disappears from Boise’s bowl game for good, as the organization announces a six-year deal with the Idaho Potato Commission to rename the game the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The game was known as the Humanitarian Bowl for 11 of its 14 previous seasons, the only exception being the MPC Computers Bowl moniker from 2004-06. Despite Boise State’s move to the Mountain West that year, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl would remain affiliated with the WAC for two more seasons.
(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.)