Pins ‘n needles night ahead for the J-Train

Were your first impressions of the NFL Draft last night the same as mine? Were your first impressions of the NFL Draft last night the same as mine? The selection of Georgia’s Todd Gurley by St. Louis with the No. 10 overall pick and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon by San Diego at No. 15 could bode well for Boise State’s Jay Ajayi in the second round tonight. First, it bumps all the running backs up a bit and indicates NFL teams are no longer shying away from that position at the top after two consecutive years without a first-round running back. And if Gurley can go that high coming off a torn ACL 5½ months ago, Ajayi’s ACL tear 3½ years ago shouldn’t be scaring anybody off. The second and third rounds will be chosen tonight.

ESPN.com analysts like the fit of Jameis Winston and new Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, the former Boise State coach. “Koetter does an excellent job of adapting his scheme to his personnel, and he knows how to make in-game—as well as week-to-week—adjustments,” writes the site’s panel of scouts. “He will put Winston in position to succeed without asking too much of him early, but he prefers to run an up-tempo, no-huddle offense, so he will likely move toward that once Winston gets acclimated to the offense and his teammates.” If he can develop quickly, Winston can take a little pressure off former Boise State star Doug Martin as he tries to return to form.

How about that. ESPN left the Boise State-BYU game on Saturday, September 12. The Cougars announced their 2015 football schedule yesterday, and there’ll be no Thursday or Friday move that particular week. The kickoff is yet to be revealed—the game will be shown on either ESPN or ESPN2. What the nation will see, BYU hopes, is a healthy quarterback Taysom Hill, who out with a broken leg last October when the Broncos bounced the Cougars 55-30 on the blue turf. So far, so good for the former Highland High star. Hill participated in spring football and came out confident. “Our offensive scheme is really good,” Hill told the Deseret News at the end of spring drills. “We’re really hard to stop and we’re really hard to defend.”

The second spring of the College of Idaho’s football renaissance culminates tomorrow with the Purple & Gold Game at Simplot Stadium. It’s an important day for Coyotes coach Mike Moroski. “We really need to get some game-like experience for the guys who didn’t play that much last year,” said Moroski, who added that depth remains thin for his still-young program. “It’ll be the last guy standing against the other last guy standing (tomorrow),” he said. The Yotes will scrimmage the offense against the defense, mixing up the units as personnel permits.

There’s no California Chrome nor Rousing Sermon nor Buddy Gill for Idahoans to root for in tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby. But there’s still Gary Stevens, the native son who started his career as a jockey at Les Bois Park while still attending Capital High in 1979. And Stevens has high expectations for his mount, Firing Line, at 12-1 odds. “He’s a pure athlete,” says Stevens of the three-year-old. “If you want to picture a race horse, that is what one is suppose to look like. He’s got great stamina, he’s got great speed, and he’s got a great mind. And for the Derby, I think the last thing I mention is mind, is the most important thing. You’ve got to have one to stay focused and keep their composure. Not just prior to the race, but during the running of the race.”

As the oldest jockey in this year’s Run For The Roses, the question comes up: is the 52-year-old Stevens the oldest jockey ever to ride in the Kentucky Derby? No—horse racing aficionados might tell you it was Bill Shoemaker (or “Willie” Shoemaker, as he was called when I was growing up). Shoemaker actually won the Derby at the age of 54, riding Ferdinand to the winner’s circle in 1986. It was two years later that Stevens grabbed his first Triple Crown victory at Churchill Downs.

Now that the Idaho Steelheads are on the golf course, we’ll see if the city of Las Vegas can get back on the ice. Do you see Vegas as an NHL city? If you base your opinion on the track record of the now-defunct Las Vegas Wranglers, the former ECHL foe of the Steelheads, you’re saying no. The Wranglers were ushered out of Orleans Arena (home of the West Coast Conference and—through this year—WAC basketball tournaments) in 2014, and few took them seriously when they proposed a new facility on a rooftop on the Strip. But there’s a new $350 million, 20,000-seat state-of-the-art arena under construction in Las Vegas, and it’s drawing the attention of curious NHL eyes. The place is supposed to be ready for occupancy late next year. The biggest obstacle might be finding enough water down there to make ice.

Boise State’s only home track and field meet of the outdoor season is set for today and tomorrow at Dona Larsen Park. The Broncos will be hosting BYU, Idaho, Idaho State, Utah State, the Utah women, Utah Valley, Weber State, College of Idaho, Eastern Oregon, Lewis-Clark, NNU, and TVCC in the Border Clash at Dona Larsen Park. Note: Bronco All-Americans Emma Bates and Marisa Howard won’t be there; they’ll be competing at the Payton Jordan Invitational this weekend in Palo Alto, CA.

Elsewhere, The Boise State men’s golf team is off to the Mountain West Championships beginning today in Tucson. The Idaho men’s golf squad captured the Big Sky title by a whopping 21 strokes Wednesday at Angels Camp, CA. It was the Vandals’ first conference crown since they won the Big West 15 years ago. And the College of Idaho baseball team, seeded fifth, begins play this morning in the NAIA West Grouping Championships. The Coyotes take on Corban in Portland.

This Day In Sports…May 1, 1920, 95 years ago today:

Both Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves and Leon Cadore of the Brooklyn Robins pitch all 26 innings in a game that is called because of darkness with the score knotted at 1-all. The two pitchers each set a major league record for longest appearance in a single game. Amazingly, the 26-inning game lasted just under four hours, and reportedly only four baseballs were used for the entire contest.

(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.)