No McWeapon? A problem, but solvable

It looks like everyone’s going to have go through the week wondering if Jeremy McNichols can play at Utah State. There’s no update on the availability of Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols for Friday night’s game at Utah State. It looks like everyone’s going to have go through the week wondering. McNichols, who sustained a blow to the head while scoring his second touchdown at Colorado State, is still listed as the No. 1 running back on the Broncos’ depth chart. But in this case, the depth chart is only worth the paper it’s written on. McNichols, of course, leads the nation with 14 touchdowns, one ahead of Baylor’s Corey Coleman. As much as Boise State would miss McNichols, I’m of the notion that the Broncos would just do different things offensively this week, and they’re capable of doing that.

In fact, coach Bryan Harsin talked about the playbook as a team thing Sunday. Don’t be surpised if Boise State players are throwing out legit suggestions for the game plan at Utah State Friday night. “Our players, they’re creative, too,” said Harsin. “They’re thinkers.” The aspect of Harsin listening to his guys goes all the way back to his first year as offensive coordinator at Boise State in 2006. The Broncos put their spin on the Statue of Liberty, with then-backup quarterback Nick Lomax suggesting the ball-behind-the-back routine used by Jared Zabransky. BSU used it in a regular-season win at Idaho—and then, of course, sprung it on Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The latter one was a collaborative effort between Harsin, Lomax and fellow backups Taylor Tharp and Bush Hamdan.

If Boise State is forced to change things up without McNichols Friday, there’ll still have to be a feature running back. That spotlight is one Kelsey Young would willingly step into. The senior transfer from Stanford no doubt wants the ball, but he’s always deferred to team goals thus far in his one-year stint as a Bronco. Young has rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns this year, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also has four catches for 35 yards. Young is defined by his second effort.

The ESPN networks met the deadline with a day to spare yesterday. Kickoff time for Boise State’s home game against Wyoming a week from Saturday has been announced—and it’ll be (drum roll) 8:15 p.m. Pardon me while I pull my jaw back up from the floor. It’ll be televised on ESPN2 or ESPNU. If the game’s on the Deuce, it’ll be worth it. ESPNU? Not so much. Here’s how accustomed fans are to these late kickoffs. One gal told me yesterday that she just assumed the Colorado State game started at 8:15—and missed all but the final minutes when she turned the game on.

There was plenty out there over the weekend about how lucky Washington was that USC hired Steve Sarkisian and allowed the Huskies to pick up Chris Petersen from Boise State. That was simply reaction to UW’s 17-12 win at the L.A. Coliseum last Thursday. But it was only the beginning. In a matter of hours between Sunday and Monday, Sarkisian went from “indefinite leave of absence” for showing up drunk at practice—to “fired” by USC athletic director Pat Haden. Reports were surfacing of Sarkisian’s widespread drinking, especially before and after games, and Haden’s hand was forced. Now Haden has to answer to how it got this far.

It’s the time of the season when guys are playing while nicked up, and that was Tanner Mangum’s task Saturday night for BYU against East Carolina. Mangum left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury after sliding for a first down—with the Cougars leading 38-21. That led to freshman Beau Hoge’s collegiate debut. Hoge, the son of ESPN analyst and former Idaho State Bengal Merril Hoge, led BYU to three consecutive three-and-outs and an interception. Next thing you know, the scored was tied 38-38. Mangum, who said his injury was “just a little tightness in my hamstring,” came back in the game with four minutes left and led the Cougars on a game-winning scoring drive in their 45-38 victory over the Pirates. The Eagle High grad’s status for Friday night’s game against Cincinnati is unknown.

Reactions by his teammates to his knee injury show how Shea McClellin’s status has changed this year in Chicago. The former Boise State star was injured on the first play of the second half in the Bears’ 18-17 win at Kansas City Sunday. “I hope my boy Shea hurries up and gets healthy,” outside linebacker Pernell McPhee said in the Chicago Sun-Times. “He is our general of the defense. He makes all the calls. He makes all the adjustments.” Christian Jones handled the defensive calls in McClellin’s absence. “It sucked, man,” Jones said. “I hope he’s fine. I had to step into a new role. I have to get to the point of spitting it out like Shea does.” McClellin, the much-maligned 2012 first-round draft pick, had been bouncing back big-time this season. The Bears may be without him at Detroit this Sunday.

As the Idaho Steelheads prep for Opening Night against Rapid City Friday, they already have a modicum of experience with the ECHL’s new overtime format. The Steelheads’ two exhibition wins versus Utah over the weekend both came in regulation, but after each game the two teams rehearsed the switch to 3-on-3 hockey in overtimes this season. The new concept is designed to decide more games on the ice in OT and fewer by shootouts. The Grizzlies won Friday night’s practice OT, while the Steelies’ Andre Bouvet-Morrissette potted a goal to end the Saturday session.

Did you know there’s a new National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) this year? I didn’t either. But the league made its debut Sunday, and Hilary Knight, the former U.S. Olympian from Sun Valley, is playing for the Boston Pride. Knight is probably going to be one of the NWHL’s marquee players. In the season opener, she scored two goals as the Pride beat the Buffalo Beauts, 4-1. There are four teams for the inaugural season—the other two are the Connecticut Whale and the New York Riveters. (How would you like to be called a “Whale?”) Announced attendance at that opener in Buffalo was only 1,231.

It was Homer Day yesterday for former Boise Hawks in the playoffs. Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant both went yard for the Cubs in their 8-6 conquest of St. Louis, giving them a chance to earn a trip to the National League Championship Series today at Wrigley Field as they face ex-Hawk John Lackey. And Josh Donaldson hit his second home run of the postseason to help Toronto even its series with Texas in an 8-4 victory. The Blue Jays and Rangers are knotted at two games apiece and will decide a trip to the AL Championship Series tomorrow.

This Day In Sports…October 13, 1960:

One of the all-time great World Series moments—Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 to beat the New York Yankees, 10-9, for the world championship. The image of Mazeroski jumping up and down as he rounded third and then leaping into a sea of Pirates has lasted through the ages.

(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.)