Kellen Moore was confident, aggressive and in total control, but he couldn’t get Dallas into the end zone. Kellen Moore was average by his standards in his first NFL start. Moore was confident, aggressive and in total control, but he couldn’t get Dallas into the end zone in a 16-6 loss at Buffalo yesterday. The former Boise State great did nothing to hurt his team, though, and there were encouraging words in the aftermath. Moore was 13-of-31 for 186 yards and an interception—a couple drops and wrong routes run by receivers didn’t help. Fox analyst Daryl Johnston (the former Cowboy fullback) praised Kellen’s ability to stretch the field, pushing the ball to the Dallas wide receivers even with Dez Bryant absent. I look at his yards per completion as a positive; Moore’s number for the day was 14.3. He also gets high marks for third downs. The Cowboys were 7-of-14 in third down conversions after going 4-of-31 the previous three games.
There are lots of reviews out there on Moore’s performance, but the ones that matter are those from Dallas coach Jason Garrett, owner Jerry Jones and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. They’re the ones deciding if Moore will be the starter for next Sunday’s season finale against Washington at AT&T Stadium. “He was made for this,” Linehan said of Moore after the game. “He was prepared to play. You can just see how much experience he has. He never gets rattled. He made a couple of really nice checks, which I’ve never seen a guy starting his first game do, got us some big plays and really impressed with what he was able to do in his first start.”
The departure of Boise State defensive end Kamalei Correa following his junior season does not come as a surprise but it does magnify the rebuilding job facing the Broncos on the D-line. Correa joins seniors Tyler Horn, Justin Taumatuia, Armand Nance, Duece Mataele, Robert Ash and Rondell McNair through the exits. Not to mention Antoine Turner, who—sadly—didn’t play this season. Correa had a comparatively down year after leading the Mountain West in sacks in 2014 and earning first-team all-conference honors. But he ended on an uptick with two sacks and a forced fumble in the Poinsettia Bowl last Wednesday, when he was named Defensive MVP.
Boise State is also down one quarterback with the revelation that Alex Ogle is transferring to Arizona Western, a junior college in Yuma. Ogle, a redshirt freshman, could see the writing on the wall with Brett Rypien and Ryan Finley ahead of him, probably for the next three years. The stint at AWC will allow him to get playing time and audition for another FBS scholarship. Ogle, who took the final knee in the Poinsettia Bowl last Wednesday, appeared in three games for the Broncos this season and didn’t attempt a pass. He had two rushing attempts for five yards (kneel-downs don’t count).
Boise State is fortunate to not only have Thomas Sperbeck back in 2016, but his intangibles as well. Sperbeck put all the little things on display in the Poinsettia Bowl last Wednesday, starting with his blocking. Then there was a first-quarter deep ball that was a bit underthrown by Brett Rypien. Sperbeck played defense, breaking up what would have been the 10th interception of the season by Northern Illinois star Shawun Lurry. Later in the first quarter he made a great sideline catch on a third-and-six to give the Broncos a first down. And in the second quarter, Boise State set up a double-pass, but Sperbeck saw that it was covered and wisely tucked the ball and ran for two yards instead of throwing it up for grabs. Important footnotes to a record season that resulted in 88 catches for 1,412 yards and eight touchdowns.
There were lots of bizarre stats in the Poinsettia Bowl. Here’s another: Boise State’s time of possession was 43:13, to 16:47 for Northern Illinois. The Broncos invoked the mercy rule by holding the ball for the final nine minutes and five seconds of the game. During that stretch, they faced a fourth-and-one at their own 34-yard line with about seven minutes left. And Boise State went for it, getting the first down on a three-yard run by Tommy Stuart. The Broncos were actually doing the Huskies a favor—keeping NIU’s moribund offense from having to come on the field again.
The Mountain West is 3-2 in the postseason after San Diego State’s 42-7 demolition of Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. The Aztecs scored on the opening kickoff and later on a pick-six, held the Bearcats to 279 yards, and were plus-three in turnovers. SDSU leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-22. Elsewhere, Washington had to scratch and claw to get its winning season, but it’s in the books after the Huskies’ 44-31 victory over Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. UW, 4-6 in mid-November, ends at 7-6. This is Chris Petersen’s 10th winning campaign in 10 years as a head coach. And Washington State held off Miami 20-14 in the Sun Bowl, the Cougars’ first bowl win in 12 years. Wazzu, which finished 9-4, will be on the blue turf next September 10 for Boise State’s marquee home game of the 2016 season.
The Boise State basketball team delayed its practice yesterday to watch Kellen Moore’s first NFL start. Then it was back to business as the Broncos prepare for their final non-conference game of the season Wednesday night against UC Davis in Taco Bell Arena. Boise State will have had a 10-day layoff since its 90-70 win over Bradley December 20. After that game, when the Broncos went 6-for-20 from beyond the arc, I thought maybe they haven’t been living and dying by the three-pointer as much lately. But then I looked it up—It was Boise State’s only outing during the current five-game winning streak that it’s launched fewer than 25 treys.
The College of Idaho, now 7-6 after back-to-back road defeats at Northwest Christian and Corban, already has as many losses as it had all of last season during its stellar 30-6 campaign. The Coyotes would be looking at No. 7 tonight, but they’ve designated their game at No. 24 Utah as an exhibition. The culprit for the Yotes is their relative lack of size inside—they lost a lot off last season’s club. Opponents are out-rebounding the C of I by 5.5 per game. Tonight is special for Yotes coach Scott Garson, who spent five seasons on the Utah staff in the 1990’s under legendary coach Rick Majerus.
The Oklahoma City Blue won only their third game of the season yesterday, and it came at the expense of the Idaho Stampede, 102-95 in overtime in CenturyLink Arena. The Stampede had a 95-94 lead midway through the OT period but were held scoreless in the final 2½ minutes. Bryce Dejean-Jones, the former Iowa State star playing in his second D-League game, led the Stamps with 19 points and 11 rebounds. It was a Dejean-Jones three-pointer that sent the game into overtime with 26 seconds left in regulation. The Stampede and Blue meet again tomorrow night in Downtown Boise.
The Utah Grizzlies went into the weekend leading the ECHL in scoring with 3.5 goals per game, but the Idaho Steelheads held them in check in a 5-2 home win Saturday night. Philippe Desrosiers was solid between the pipes, clocking 25 saves on 27 shots on goal, while Zach Yuen scored two second-period goals to pace the offense. Chris Rawlings switched sweaters over the weekend to become Desrosiers’ backup. Rawlings, who was in training camp with the Steelies but was released before the season started, then hooked up with Utah in October. Rawlings signed with the Steelheads Saturday when Maxime Lagace was called up by Texas of the AHL. The Steelheads and Grizzlies now head for Utah for a game in West Valley City tonight.
This Day In Sports…December 28, 2005, 10 years ago today:
The Dan Hawkins era and the 31-game winning streak on the blue turf come to an end for Boise State in the MPC Computers Bowl. Boston College, ranked 19th in both polls, burst out to a 27-0 lead before a furious BSU rally started near the end of the third quarter. Three touchdowns, punctuated by a 92-yard punt return by Quinton Jones, got the Broncos back in the game. And they were on the verge of winning it with a first-and-goal at the Eagle five in the final minute before an interception closed out a 27-21 BC victory. Hawkins left for Colorado with a 53-11 record in his five years at BSU.
(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.)