Takeaways from the first poll

Boise State is right where many thought it would be in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll. The Broncos aren’t in the Top 25, but they did receive 27 points in the Others Receiving Votes category, leaving them ninth in line to get in. That’s fair. This Boise State team could surely overachieve that. But voters saw a squad that finished 5-2, got worked by BYU, lost to San Jose State for the first time ever and lost its coach to Auburn. And they still placed the Broncos in a position to reach the Top 25 with a good September. That would have to include a win over UCF, which is two spots ahead of Boise State. And if that isn’t enough, an upset of Oklahoma State, which is ranked No. 22. Bottom line: the Broncos are not being disrespected. (By the way, they were ranked 26th in last year’s preseason poll.)


The rest of the story in the Coaches Poll: Cincinnati picks up where it left off last year as the top-ranked Group of 5 team at No. 10. The only other G5 schools on the list are both getting the benefit of the doubt after big seasons in 2020—and they’re both from the Sun Belt—Louisiana Lafayette at No. 23 and Coastal Carolina at No. 24. BYU is sixth among Others Receiving Votes, three spots ahead of Boise State, San Jose State is two spots behind the Broncos, and Nevada and Air Force received two points apiece. The Pac-12’s predicament is magnified in the poll, as only two teams from the conference are ranked: Oregon at No. 12 and Washington at No. 21.


One observation on Boise State’s quarterback competition between Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears. Why is this even a thing if Bachmeier has gone 11-2 as a starter? I point to completion percentage. Accuracy is so important in today’s passing game, and it’ll be even more important in offensive coordinator Tim Plough’s new system. Bachmeier’s career percentage sits at 62.1 percent. It’s not terrible, but it’s far from lights-out territory. Sears’ sample size is small, but it’s dynamic. His completion percentage last season was 85 percent, as it was when he went 17-for-20 for 280 yards and three touchdowns on Halloween at Air Force. His 75-yard TD pass to CT Thomas on the first play from scrimmage was a beaut, but the 26-yard scoring strike to Thomas later was just as impressive. It was a dart, but with touch.


Boise State safety JL Skinner made waves with the media Tuesday by revealing that he never went home to California after the season and gave himself a grade of “C” for his performance last year. “I was disappointed with the way I performed and I didn’t want to feel that way ever again,” Skinner said. A lot is made of the fact that he has just one interception in two seasons as a Bronco. That’s one way to look at the lone pick. The other is to realize that Skinner’s interception against Colorado State was Boise State’s only in-game pick of the season in one of the worst turnover years in school history. The other two interceptions both came on the final play of the game—by Tyric LeBeauf against Utah State and by Evan Tyler at Wyoming.


Brett Rypien and Alexander Mattison get to see other Saturday, with Rypien suiting up for Denver and Mattison for Minnesota in the teams’ preseason opener. Both former Boise State backfield mates will likely play if healthy—Rypien more than Mattison, as the Mountain West’s all-time passing leader is in another battle to make the Broncos roster. Mattison’s spot is more secure—he’s listed as Dalvin Cook’s backup again on the Vikings’ first “unofficial” depth chart released Tuesday. Which is all fine and good, but the third-year pro has his sights set on being an NFL starter. “I definitely believe in myself to that extent—I see myself being in that position someday, whether it’s with the Vikings or another organization,” Mattison told KTIK’s Prater & The Ballgame when he was in town for Boise State’s Spring Game.


Idaho State opened fall camp last Friday in Holt Arena, and the spotlight player is Bengals wide receiver Tanner Conner. Why? Conner is on Bruce Feldman’s 2021 “college football Freaks list” at The Athletic. These are guys with freak physical skills. Conner is 12th out of the 101 players on the list and tops among FCS representatives. Feldman’s synopsis: “This big receiver (6-3, 233) caught 34 passes for 685 yards and made first-team All-Big Sky in the spring. Conner also has legit speed as he doubles as a standout hurdler on ISU’s track team. He placed fourth at the 2021 Big Sky Outdoor Championships in the 110 hurdles and set a personal record with a time of 14.03. He’s also run 10.51 100 meters. Conner vertical jumped 40¼ inches this offseason and did 16 reps on the bench of 225.” He’s a walking combine.


College of Idaho is wasting no time getting on the field in fall camp. The Coyotes are already prepping for their first scrimmage, the Purple & Gold Game, set for Friday night at Simplot Stadium. The face of Yotes football this fall should be senior running back Nick Calzaretta, who seems like he’s been around forever. He kind of has. Calzaretta has taken advantage of the NAIA’s extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19 and will be playing a fifth season. The two-time All-Frontier Conference selection led the league in rushing as a junior and heads into the year with 2,525 career rushing yards and 29 touchdowns, both among the top 5 in C of I history.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!

August 11, 1961, 60 years ago today: Future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves wins the 300th game of his big league career. No telling how many victories Spahn would have amassed had he not missed three complete seasons when he served in World War II, earning himself a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. His final total was 363, still baseball’s record for left-handers. Spahn won 20 or more games 12 times, including in 1963, when he went 23-7 with a 2.60 ERA at the age of 42.

(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.)

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