“You want me to just ask it myself?” quipped Boise State coach Bryan Harsin yesterday. “You want me to just ask it myself?” quipped Boise State coach Bryan Harsin at his press conference yesterday. But Harsin was somber when describing quarterback Ryan Finley’s injury coming out of Friday night’s 52-0 win over Idaho State, a broken bone in his ankle that will keep the sophomore out of action for about eight weeks. The Broncos went with sophomore Tommy Stuart and true freshman Brett Rypien in relief of Finley before Alex Ogle came in for mop-up versus ISU. Stuart played well—Rypien played better, and Harsin said the starter at Virginia this Saturday will be the guy who trots out for the first snap. Sure enough, the depth chart came out with the big “OR” on it. The Boise State staff will have packages tailored to each player’s strengths, and both will play. “I feel good about our quarterback position,” said Harsin.
I can’t say for sure if it was the first time Boise State has played four quarterbacks in the same game. It probably is, though, as in the old days the Broncos didn’t generally have four QBs who were active at the same time. I can say with certainty that it’s the first time three different Bronco quarterbacks have made their collegiate debuts in the same game. Stuart was 9-of-13 for 69 yards and threw the only touchdown pass of the night. He was so excited, it seemed like he reached Holden Huff in about 2.3 seconds to celebrate it. Rypien completed his first four passes and went 8-of-9 for 126 yards, including a 46-yard strike to Thomas Sperbeck. He led three touchdown drives, plus a fourth that ended in a field goal. Rypien’s one incompletion was a good decision—a throwaway out of the end zone when his receiver was covered. He looked like he belonged.
A couple other long-term injuries have struck Boise State, both of them in a unit that happens to be deep. Defensive end Gabe Perez is gone for the season with a shoulder injury and will undergo surgery today. Perez had a redshirt year available after playing as a true freshman in 2013 and will now use it. And another D-end, Rondell McNair, tweaked a knee in practice and will be out for four weeks. That has opened the door for two more defensive ends to garner playing time, true freshman Durrant Miles and redshirt freshman Jabril Frazier. Against Idaho State, Frazier logged three tackles, one for loss, and added a pass deflection.
The crowd of 33,868 was late-arriving (man, those security scanners get backed up at the entrances). Once all the fans were in, they watched with curious anticipation when Stuart entered the game in the first quarter, and they were glued to Rypien’s every move when he was in. One Idaho State note—it was great seeing Madison Magnum at work. The senior wide receiver from Timberline had seven catches for 98 yards, all in the second half. The other Treasure Valley standout for the Bengals Friday night was defensive lineman Tyler Kuder of Payette. Kuder made 10 tackles, two of them for loss, including a sack. He also had a pass deflection.
Boise State has fallen off a bit in the “Others Receiving Votes” category in the polls. The Broncos are 11th in line to get into the AP Top 25, and 15th on the waiting list in the Coaches Poll. There are still no Group of 5 teams in the rankings (independent BYU hung on with a No. 22 spot in AP). The top Group of 5 vote-getter in AP is Toledo, followed by Houston, Temple and the Broncos.
Tanner Mangum’s magic didn’t last a third game. BYU’s true freshman quarterback, the former Eagle Mustang, had a fourth-and-seven with about a minute left at UCLA (sound familiar?). This one was from the Bruin 42, but instead of throwing it into the end zone like he did a week earlier versus Boise State, he tossed it into coverage, and it was intercepted by UCLA’s Myles Jack. Mangum was 30-of-47 for 244 yards, one touchdown and the one pick in a 24-23 loss to the Bruins. In Charlottesville, Virginia survived a scare from FCS William & Mary, getting a fourth-down stop with 1½ minutes left to win 35-29 Saturday. There must have been a hangover effect after the Cavaliers almost upset Notre Dame a week before. Do you mind if I wait until tomorrow to talk about the Mountain West? Ugh.
Idaho just needed a win, never mind that it was an FCS opponent, Wofford, coming into the Kibble Dome Saturday. The Vandals tamed the Terriers’ vaunted “wing-bone” offense when they needed to, holding it to 398 yards while rallying for a 41-38 victory. Quinton Bradley had three of Idaho’s eight tackles-for-loss, and Russell Siavii returned an early Wofford fumble 10 yards for a touchdown. The Vandals got a little bit of everything from their offense—334 passing yards from Scott Linehan, 139 yards on 10 catches from Dezmon Epps, 107 receiving yards from Buck Cowan, 98 rushing yards from Elijhaa Penny, and three rushing touchdowns from Aaron Duckworth (the first time that’s happened at UI in six years).
The College of Idaho-Southern Oregon game Saturday at Simplot Stadium had a couple wacky sidebars—you may never see either again. First things first: the Coyotes went toe-to-toe with the defending NAIA national champions before the Raiders scored 20 unasnwered second-quarter points for some breathing room in their 42-27 victory. That happened without C of I athletic director Marty Holly, who was ejected from the game for shoving a Southern Oregon player after he delivered a late hit on a Yote. Also weird was a dropped pass by a wide-open Marcus Lenhardt, one of the best tight ends in the NAIA, at a crucial point of the game. In fact, it was one of four drops on the day by the Yotes, three of them on third or fourth down. The College of Idaho is now 1-3.
Kellen Moore has never really had the cards fall his way in the NFL. Not once did he ever suit up for the Lions during his three seasons in Detroit. After being cut loose in the Motor City, the former Boise State great landed on the Dallas practice squad, and maybe that’s the break he needed. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo broke his clavicle yesterday in a 20-10 win at Philadelphia. Brandon Weeden finished the game and will be the starter in Romo’s absence, and Moore could now be promoted to the active roster. But Dallas could also go out and get somebody else to be No. 2 behind Weeden. Be ready for that.
Troy Merritt won’t be advancing to the PGA Tour Championship this week in Atlanta. Instead he’ll head home to Meridian. What a season for the one-time Boise State star, though. Merritt tied for 62nd at the BMW Championship yesterday after finishing two-over for the tournament. At No. 56 in FedExCup standings, he’s on the outside of the elite 30 who go on to the finale. But Merritt’s final ledger shows one victory (the first ever by a former Bronco on the PGA Tour), three top 10 finishes, and $2,092,669 in earnings. Elsewhere, Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge has two more weeks to play in the Web.com Tour Finals. Aldridge recovered from a first-round 75 to tie for 16th yesterday at the Small Business Connection Championship.
You may have seen the photo of Boise State’s true freshman distance runner, Allie Ostrander, on the video screen at Albertsons Stadium Friday night. I mean, Ostrander looks so young—like she should still be in junior high in Kenai, AK. But she runs like a future Olympian, and she won the 2015 Junior World Mountain Running Championships in Snowdonia, North Wales, over the weekend. Ostrander became just the second junior in United States’ history to win the individual title at worlds. She finished the incline-filled 4.7-kilometer course 39 seconds ahead of the runnerup, Michaela Stranska of the Czech Republic. Allie’s going to be fun to follow.
This Day In Sports…September 21, 1990, 25 years ago today:
The first Boise Open tees off at Hillcrest Country Club, one of 30 events in the inaugural year of what was then called the Ben Hogan Tour. The tournament was 54 holes and had a purse of $100,000 (less than what the winner now receives by himself). The first Boise Open champion would be Ricky Smallridge, who took home $20,000. The event would become known as the Albertsons Boise Open, and next year it returns to September as part of the Web.com Tour Finals.
(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.)