Where could Boise State newbie quarterbacks Tommy Stuart and Brett Rypien use help tonight? Where could Boise State newbie quarterbacks Tommy Stuart and Brett Rypien use help tonight at Virginia? One area is an expanded wide receiver corps. A trendy subject during Boise State fall camp was the development of a second wave of wideouts behind the “big three” of Shane Williams-Rhodes, Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson. Well, not much to report so far. SWR, Sperbeck and Anderson have combined for 35 catches and 395 yards through three games. The only other reception by a wide receiver this season has been the six-yard grab last week by reserve Terrell Johnson. Nothing yet from the backups on the depth chart, D.J. Dean, Austin Cottrell, A.J. Richardson and Akilian Butler.
Maybe it’s not too big a worry, though. At this point last season, there was just one wave as well. The season’s original starters, Williams-Rhodes, Matt Miller and Dallas Burroughs, had combined for 46 receptions, 521 yards and three touchdowns through three games in 2014. Other than that, you had Troy Ware with two catches for 25 yards. Of course, it was Game No. 4 that everything changed. Miller was lost for the season and Sperbeck stepped in. And shortly thereafter, Anderson supplanted Burroughs and the passing game clicked. More concerning, perhaps, is the lack of production overall from this year’s wide receivers so far. Review those three-game numbers from 2014. No touchdown catches this season, either.
So if it’s raining tonight in Charlottesville, does that put the onus on the Boise State running game, and does it mean more Tommy Stuart and less Brett Rypien? My opinion is no. The Broncos will do what they do, rain or shine. That’s not how the staff will divvy up the snaps. “We’re not going to go to two different offenses,” said coach Bryan Harsin. “But we might have different packages that complement one guy (or the other).” It will be damp whether there’s precipitation or not, as humidity is predicted to be near 100 percent. But I’m believing that Rypien has enough poise to handle the conditions. Now, can he handle the heat from Virginia’s zone-blitzes? That will determine his playing time. “He’s not a finished product by any means,” Harsin said.
As for that Boise State run game, it is needed tonight. Now we’ll find out if it’s for real. Is it the one that averaged 1.9 yards per attempt in the first two possesions against Idaho State in what was a carryover from the loss at BYU? Or will it be the one that averaged 6.5 yards per carry the rest of the way versus the Bengals? “We need to run the ball like that,” said Harsin. “When we get on the perimeter, we need to turn the corner. The wide receivers did a great job of blocking, and that helped us.”
Naturally, it’s hard to find common opponents between Boise State and Virginia. But there is one from last year. The Cavaliers lost in Provo last year 41-33, but they out-gained BYU 519 yards to 332. And that was before Taysom Hill was injured. It just goes to show that anything can happen tonight. Really, there are as many unknowns about the Broncos tonight as there were going into the Washington game.
Boise State’s Jake Hardee has been named one of 56 FBS semi-finalists for the 2015 Campbell Trophy from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. The award goes to the nation’s outstanding senior or graduate student in his final year of eligibility who has a GPA of at least 3.2, has outstanding football ability, and has demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. Hardee, a one-time walk-on from Bishop Kelly, is now a key operator in the Broncos’ tight end rotation. Last week he snagged his first catch since 2013—on Rypien’s third attempt of his college career.
I don’t know if DallasCowboys.com analyst Bryan Broaddus is looking at Kellen Moore with blue and orange glasses, but he gave the former Boise State great a glowing scouting report yesterday. With Moore the backup to Brandon Weeden for Sunday’s game against Dallas (if only for a week), Broaddus studied three of Detroit’s preseason games this summer that featured Kellen. “There is nothing physically impressive about Kellen Moore until you put on his tape,” writes Broaddus. “His toughness is off the charts. Not one time did I see him flinch while standing in the pocket. There were several plays where his protection was less than perfect and he took some big time hits.” Check it out at the Cowboys’ website. Broaddus talks about the warts—size and arm strength—but he says he can understand why they’re giving Moore a chance.
The reeling Mountain West needs some positives, starting tonight. Tomorrow there are five more non-conference games against FBS opponents for a league that has suddenly lost 21 straight such games. Only two MW teams are favored tomorrow (the Broncos are a 2½-point favorite tonight), as Colorado State is the pick by 10 points at UT-San Antonio and Nevada is favored at Buffalo—by one point. A win over the MAC would be appreciated by the Mountain West right now. In related news, Memphis is making its case for inclusion in the New Year’s Six bowl discussion. The Tigers moved to 4-0 last night with a 53-46 AAC win over Cincinnati. Memphis has as many points (eight) as Boise State does in this week’s Coaches Poll.
If Idaho is to upset defending Sun Belt champion Georgia Southern in tomorrow night’s Dad’s Weekend tilt in the Kibbie Dome, quarterback Matt Linehan will have to be on his game—without mistakes. There’s plenty of positives for the sophomore son of the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator. Linehan is top 10 in the nation in completions per game with 27, beginning the season with the fourth-highest single-game total in the country, 36 versus Ohio. His completion percentage has taken a quantum leap this year—he’s hitting 71 percent of his throws. Linehan still has more interceptions than touchdown passes, though, four to three.
The College of Idaho has a couple scenic drives in store over the next three weeks, as the Coyotes sandwich trips to Montana Tech and Montana State-Northern around a bye week. The C of I will not play at home again until October 17. The Yotes are prepared to see a much different Montana Tech team tomorrow. The Orediggers were 1-9 last season, including a 41-25 loss to the C of I at Simplot Stadium. This year Tech is 2-1 and ranked 21st in the NAIA, and it already has a victory over perennial power Carroll College. The Yotes will need their running game tomorrow—it was helped last week by Zach Garzoli, who returned to form with 12 carries for 80 yards in the loss to Southern Oregon.
Two other notes: Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge struggled to a five-over 76 yesterday in the first round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, OH. It’s the last “playoff” tournament before the Web.com Tour Championship next week. Remember, Aldridge already has his PGA Tour card secured for next season. And Idaho Steelheads coach Neil Graham has, in effect, replaced himself on his staff. Graham, who was former coach Brad Ralph’s right-hand man, has hired one-time Steelheads player Gord Baldwin as an assistant coach. Baldwin just finished an eight-year pro hockey career—he was a Steelie in 2012-13. Training camp for the Steelheads begins a week from Monday.
This Day In Sports…September 25, 1965, 50 years ago today:
At the age of 59, Satchel Paige of the Kansas City Athletics pitches three shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox. The only hit he yielded that day was a double by Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski. People always wonder what Paige might have been had he played in the majors in his prime. He was a star in the Negro Leagues before baseball’s color barrier was broken.
(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.)