Inside the Boise State program, they may consider it a little tweak in game-planning. Outside, it looks like the Bronco offense has been turned inside out. It’s worked the past two weeks, with Boise State frustrating BYU and San Diego State through grind-it-out performances. Can the Broncos win this way every week? They logged just 300 and 311 yards of total offense versus the Cougars and Aztecs, respectively. Brett Rypien and Montell Cozart threw for 267 yards combined in the two games. You can say this, though: the Boise State offense may not have been consistent, but it’s been clutch. It’s just that one of these days Alexander Mattison will be stopped, and the Broncos will need their other dimension.
Any doubt that there’s been a change in the Boise State offense would be squelched by the numbers at wide receiver. Cedrick Wilson had just two receptions in the win at San Diego State, though they were typical Wilson catches, covering 19 and 41 yards. The longest pass play other than those to go a wide receiver covered five yards, unless you count Cozart as a wideout on his nine-yard catch from Rypien. There is no second wave at wide receiver. That’s just the way it is. No true freshman has emerged, but that’s not uncommon at Boise State. Two years ago Akilian Butler had two catches. Last season Bubba Ogbabor played right away and didn’t have a reception (he left the program last spring). This season Octavius Evans and C.T. Thomas are active true freshman, and they’ve combine for eight catches.
Boise State’s upset of San Diego State is seen as a possible turning point in the Broncos’ 2017 season. A lot of those who handicapped the campaign saw the team as 3-3 at this point, whereas it’s 4-2, and 2-0 in the Mountain West. Well, guess who’s feeling the same way? As it heads for the blue turf Saturday, Wyoming is 4-2, and 2-0 in the Mountain West. The Cowboys feel like they’ve found themselves after their 28-23 come-from-behind victory in Logan last week. “There was a feeling in the locker room after the Utah State game,” said coach Craig Bohl at his weekly press conference. “We had to win it the hard way, and sometimes those wins help propel you.” One of these teams will continue to be propelled at about the stroke of midnight Saturday night.
What a weird season it’s been at the turnstiles. Boise State reported late yesterday that, outside of the student allotment (which is expected to be fully picked up), there are fewer than 3,000 tickets left for Saturday night’s showdown with Wyoming. There were news stories galore in September asking what’s going on with the crowds this year. Kickoff times, the cost, lack of buzz.
The opener against Troy—the first afternoon game on the blue turf in four years—was rewarded with a 97-degree day but fans still turned out almost 32,000 strong until the heat wilted them. The New Mexico game was the big dipper, attracting just over 28,000 (and more news stories). But Virginia, the first ACC team ever to visit Boise during the regular season, topped out at just under 34,000. Now comes Wyoming, featuring much-hyped quarterback Josh Allen, the guy who let the air out of the Bronco balloon last October in Laramie. And, I dare say, the Boise State defense is selling some tickets.
Rees Odhiambo trudges along as the Seattle Seahawks’ starting left tackle. I say “trudges” because the reviews on the former Boise State star are more scathing than glowing—but he still has his job. Now the Seahawks are deciding whether to leave Odhiambo at tackle or move him to left guard, as Luke Joeckel is set to be out four to five weeks after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The Seahawks had been talking to free agent Branden Albert earlier this week as a possible Joeckel replacement, but coach Pete Carroll says no agreement was reached. Seattle’s plan now appears to be leaving Odhiambo at left tackle, with untested Mark Glowinski and Ethan Pocic competing for the left guard spot.
A year ago, Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison was coming off a sophomore season that saw him average 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. There were expectations that Hutchison would be improved last season—but not to the tune of 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds. The expectations this year? Hutchison has been selected Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year. The biggest benefit of coming out early last spring for the NBA Draft was the private tutorials he received during NBA workouts. Now that Hutchison has returned to school, the expectation internally is leadership. Derrick Marks won the Mountain West Player of the Year award in 2015, but no Boise State player has ever received the preseason Mountain West nod.
A byproduct of the expectations for Hutchison is the Mountain West preseason media poll—showing the Broncos picked to finish third behind Nevada and San Diego State. The Wolf Pack is the overwhelming favorite, but the Broncos were nipping at the Aztecs’ heels in the poll. The darkhorse in my mind is the No. 6 pick, UNLV, which has restocked itself with a great recruiting class (led by MW Preseason Freshman of the Year Brandon McCoy). The biggest shock is perennial power New Mexico being voted No. 9 in the 11-team league.
The PGA Tour’s Asian swing continues this week with the CJ Cup, and Graham DeLaet is in the field. This is the first-ever PGA Tour event in South Korea, to be contested at The Club at Nine Bridges located in the late-afternoon shadow of Mount Halla, a volcano in the center of Jeju Island, south of the mainland. DeLaat made just enough money last week to finance this second leg on the other side of the Pacific, pocketing $16,030 at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. Of course, the former Boise State star has some bank from his tie for fifth at the Safeway Open two weeks ago (just before the tragic fires hit the Napa Valley).
It was Captain’s Night last night for the Idaho Steelheads. Jefferson Dahl became the Steelheads’ first multi-goal scorer of the new season when he struck twice in the first period. In fact, Dahl’s tallies were less than a minute and a half apart, kick-starting a 3-1 victory over the Utah Grizzlies in CenturyLink Arena. Goalie Philippe Desrosiers did the rest, recording 33 saves. The two teams meet again tomorrow night on Boise ice.
This Day In Sports…October 19, 1974:
Perhaps the greatest comeback in Boise State football history falls just short in a 37-35 loss at UNLV. The Rebels, behind All-America running back Mike Thomas, raced out to a 30-6 halftime lead and upped it to 37-6 early in the third quarter. Bronco quarterback Jim McMillan brought BSU back, throwing for a record 454 yards that night. His favorite target was Mike Holton, who had a record 252 yards receiving. The Broncos’ final surge was stopped by an interception at UNLV’s 17-yard-line.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)