A couple of teams at the Mountain West Football Media Summit in Las Vegas identified specific points in time at which their 2016 campaigns turned around. They came against a mutual opponent. Guess who? Boise State can only take it as a compliment. Wyoming was the surprise team in the conference last year, winning the Mountain Division and going 8-6 overall. And the catalyst came October 29 in Laramie, when the Cowboys upset Boise State 30-28. “You always talk about signature wins in the program,” said coach Craig Bohl. “For the University of Wyoming, who’s always had ups and downs and ups and downs, that was a special night. It changed the trajectory of the program.” Sometimes, though—despite all the Josh Allen hype—we forget that the Pokes lost four of their final five games.
Colorado State was plodding along at 3-3 when it visited Boise last October, and the Rams left town at 3-4. But the 28-23 loss to the Broncos saw CSU score 20 points in less than a minute and a half late in the fourth quarter thanks to two successful onside kicks. The Rams won four of their final five games of the regular season after their trip to the blue turf. “The key was the end of the Boise State game,” said Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens. “After that, we realized we could play. I mean, they were a good defense, but we were scoring on plays that we didn’t think we could score on.” The Rams, of course, were back on the blue turf in December, when it all unraveled in a 61-50 loss to Idaho in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. What happened? “I think we didn’t adapt to the conditions,” Stevens said.
Boise State has picked up its first local commitment for the 2018 recruiting class. It’s a guy the Broncos coveted, Keegan Freeborn of Rocky Mountain, who has been a dominant force on the offensive line for last year’s state 5A runners-up. “They want me at nose guard,” Freeborn told BroncoCountry.com. That’s a position Boise State doesn’t currently have, although nose tackle is close enough. Ironically, Freeborn hasn’t played on the D-line before, so he went to Washington’s camp last month and worked on defense there—and based on that film, the Broncos offered him a scholarship. There are a couple different measurements listed for Freeborn: 6-2, 310 pounds and 6-1, 297. Either way, he’s a big dude.
Catching up on Boise State’s recruiting list—the Broncos this week also added Kukea Emmsley, an outside linebacker from Kapolei, HI, and nose tackle Scale Igiehon from Del Valle, TX. Emmsley fits the profile of another prominent Hawaiian, Kamalei Correa. The 6-5, 230-pounder says Boise State has been his dream school since his uncle, Loa Emmsley, played on the blue turf. Igiehon’s first name is ironic, because this guy tips the scales even more than Freeborn. He’s 6-2, 237 pounds. The Broncos now have eight commits for the 2018 class.
Here’s where the three guys with Boise State ties sit on USA Today’s “Ranking of every NFL head coach, from first to worst,” compiled by Steven Ruiz. No. 24 is Dirk Koetter of the Buccaneers. “ The start of Koetter’s head coaching career was rocky at best,” writes Ruiz. “His clock management wasn’t great, the defense had somehow gotten worse than it had been under Lovie Smith and Jameis Winston was not playing well. That all changed in the second half, and the Bucs finished 6-2 over the last two months. Still, we want to see it for a full season before we put Koetter any higher on the list.”
Ruiz has Chuck Pagano of the Colts at No. 18. Writes Ruiz: “The players love him, and Pagano’s defenses have overachieved at times, but anything less than a playoff berth in 2017 will likely end his time as Colts head coach.” Mildly surprising is John Fox of the Bears in the top half at No. 15. “Fox is boring and overly conservative but he’s won everywhere he’s been,” says Ruiz. “Well, he hasn’t won in Chicago yet, but he hasn’t really been given a team capable of winning over the first two years of his tenure. The roster is better this season, so no more excuses. This could be Fox’s last season as a head coach if he can’t turn it around.” I can tell you that Fox was not boring as Boise State secondary coach in the Broncos’ run to the 1980 Division I-AA national championship.
Everybody north of the border seems to be rooting for Graham DeLaet at the RBC Canadian Open. The Weyburn, Saskatchewan, native and former Boise State star was even after 12 holes yesterday but rode the crowd to birdies on the 13th and 16th holes and an eagle on 18 to end with a four-under 68 at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario. DeLaet’s tied for 33rd and is three shots off the lead with a few golfers yet to finish the first round due to the onset of darkness last night. Troy Merritt is in the danger zone after carding a one-over 73 yesterday.
The Boise Hawks are off the rails. Their losing streak reached nine games last night in a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Hillsboro at Memorial Stadium. The Hawks’ bats have suddenly gone quiet, although the one run did come thanks to the long ball, the team’s trademark this year, as Hidekel Gonzalez socked his second home run of the season. It was Boise’s 47th homer overall.
It’s very unusual at this level of minor league sports, but the Idaho Steelheads have a player in the fold who’s heading into his fourth season in Boise. And he’s an important one. Team captain Jefferson Dahl has played 180 games over the past three years with the Steelheads. Dahl is coming off his best offensive season, as he logged 22 goals for the second consecutive season and led the Steelheads with a career-high 66 points. He’s in the Steelies’ ECHL-era career top 10 in games played, goals, assists and points.
This Day In Sports…July 28, 2009:
Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox sets a major league record by retiring 45 consecutive batters over a three-game stretch. The streak started when Buehrle retired the final man he faced against the Orioles 10 days earlier. Then, he became the 18th pitcher in big league history to throw a perfect game in a 5-0 win over Tampa Bay. Buehrle finished the record on this day by setting down the first 17 Minnesota Twins batters he faced. San Francisco’s Yusmeiro Petit would break the record by retiring 46 straight in 2014.
(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.)