The Debbie Downers out there will point out an issue for the Boise State defense going into this Friday night’s Senior Night battle against UNLV. So let’s just get it out there. The Broncos have allowed more than 200 rushing yards in each of the past three games, including an individual 100-yard rusher in all of them. The culprit Saturday was Hawaii’s Paul Harris, who ran for 145 yards on just 10 carries. To be sure, 77 of them came on five totes against Boise State’s backups in the fourth quarter. But that leaves 68 yards on five carries versus the Bronco starters. UNLV is a four-touchdown underdog Friday (here we go again), but what the Rebels do well is concerning. They rushed for 401 yards in their 69-66 triple-overtime upset of Wyoming, and star running back Lexington Thomas didn’t even play.
The Boise State pass rush, be it due to fatigue or whatever, cannot seem to corral scrambling quarterbacks anymore. In the past three games, there has been exactly one sack—on the final play of the San Jose State game. Before that, the Broncos did get to BYU’s Taysom Hill four times, but they were “short sacks” for a combined 13 yards. Now Boise State faces more of the same in UNLV’s Kurt Palendech, who has taken over as the Rebels’ starting QB. Can Palendech scramble? Well, all he did to the Cowboys was rush for 157 yards. Not even Randall Cunningham did that at UNLV. Included in Palendech’s day was a 76-yard go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter. He was rewarded yesterday with a Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honor. Nothin’ but the facts, ma’am.
UNLV also has the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week in cornerback Torry McTyer, who had two huge interceptions versus Wyoming. The first came in the fourth quarter with the Rebels leading 52-45. The other was the ultimate—in the third overtime, McTyer tipped a Josh Allen pass and grabbed it out of the air at the UNLV one-yard line. That set up the Rebels’ winning field goal on the following possession.
Now, will McTyer be going up against Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson Friday night? You would think so, but Wilson did leave the Hawaii game on the first play of the second quarter with some kind of leg or ankle tweak after six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. He returned to add a 32-yard grab and a 35-yard TD, but later walked off gingerly again. That was it for the day (probably just precautionary). Of course, if Wilson is anything but out long-term, coach Bryan Harsin won’t make mention of it in his press conference today.
Boise’s high is forecast to be 60 degrees today. I mention that in drawing your attention to my “This Day In Sports” item below. It normally doesn’t go back just two years, but I couldn’t resist considering today’s incredible temperature differential. Now, about that San Diego State-Wyoming game this Saturday. All the way along, it was, “What if it’s freezing in Laramie for those Californians in November?” First, it’s going to be an afternoon game. Yes, the morning low is forecast to be six degrees, but the high is predicted at 43. And the Aztecs pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, as is evidenced buy the start they had in Boise two years ago. SDSU is favored by 10 points.
New Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford had some enlightening things to say in his introductory press conference. Tedford is coming from Washington, where he was an “offensive consultant” for Chris Petersen. We find that our perception up here is probably reality. “What’s interesting, talking to Coach Petersen, when he first got to Boise (in 2001) their gold standard was Fresno State,” Tedford said. “OK, now, it has kind of flipped roles. But I absolutely know what it takes to get there and how we can get it done, and it starts with recruiting the Valley and making sure that we keep the guys in the Valley home that want to be here and keep the recruiting more on the West Coast.” Fired coach Tim DeRuyter took a lot of heat for his lack of recruiting success in California.
Boise State has two active NFL running backs again as Doug Martin finally returned to action with Tampa Bay on Sunday. Martin had been out since Week 2 with a hamstring injury that took its sweet time healing. He rushed for 33 yards on 16 carries and scored an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Buccaneer’s 36-10 victory over Chicago. The Tampa Bay Times reports that after he scored, Martin kissed the grass in the end zone. “Just happy to be back,” said Martin. His role is expected to expand as he gets back to full strength. Quarterback Jameis Winston praised Martin’s presence in the huddle, and coach Dirk Koetter added, “It was awesome to get Doug out there.”
The other former Boise State star in an NFL backfield, Miami’s Jay Ajayi, had 19 carries for 79 yards and no touchdowns in the Dolphins’ 31-24 victory at San Diego. Take away a 40-yard run, though, and he had 39 yards on 17 carries. But hey, this is the NFL. Plus, defenses have been devouring video of the Jay-Train the past few weeks. And how about former Idaho Vandal Korey Toomer? The Chargers linebacker amassed 11 tackles in that game. That’s 38 tackles in six games since he was signed as a depth-filler at the end of September, 20 of them in the past two games.
The marquee game in Mountain West basketball this week: San Diego State at Gonzaga last night in Spokane. Or so we thought. The Aztecs got worked by the Zags, 69-48. Well, there’s always defending conference champion Fresno State. Oh, the Bulldogs lost at home to Prairie View A&M last night, 74-68. Boise State’s in a marquee tournament this week. The Broncos open play Thursday in the Gildan Charleston Classic against host College of Charleston and are in the same bracket with Mississippi State and Central Florida. Defending national champion Villanova headlines the other side and is joined by Wake Forest, UTEP and Western Michigan.
There are no Idaho Stampede references to be found as the 2016-17 NBA D-League season gets underway. That is, of course, because the team is gone. What would have been the Stampede’s 19th season has turned into the Salt Lake City Stars’ first, as the Utah Jazz moved the Stamps a year after purchasing the team from its Boise ownership group. The Stars opened with a 117-100 road loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce Saturday night. They travel to Oklahoma City tonight (I don’t plan to report on that). There’s one holdover on the Salt Lake roster from the Stampede, former San Diego State standout J.J. O’Brien, who averaged 14.1 points in 46 games last season. The Stamps’ last coach, Dean Cooper, remains at the helm for the Stars.
This Day In Sports…November 15, 2014:
A day after a freak storm finishes dumping a November-record 7.6 inches of snow on Boise, Boise State and San Diego State play the coldest game in Albertsons Stadium history. The temperature at kickoff was 9 degrees, but the warm-weather Aztecs were unfazed, bursting out to a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter. It was then the Broncos staged one of their biggest rallies ever, overcoming the deficit to win 38-29. Boise State’s Jay Ajayi had 108 of his 134 rushing yards and all three of his touchdowns in the second half. Attendance was 27,478, the Broncos’ smallest crowd in 11 years. But the hardy, frozen fans compensated for the no-shows with their vocal cords.
(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.)