The turnovers—then and now

It’s a triple-atonement week for Boise State. It’s a triple-atonement week for Boise State. The Broncos would like redemption for last week’s loss to New Mexico, last year’s loss at Air Force, and all the turnovers that came with those two forgettable events. The dreaded turnover is a thread that has carried all the way through Boise State’s five losses in the past two years. The Broncos have coughed it up 26 times in those five defeats versus just 18 times in 19 victories. There were seven turnovers in last season’s 28-14 loss to the Falcons, and that’s who heads for the blue turf tomorrow night licking their chops after viewing BSU’s self-destruction against the Lobos.

“We cherish the ball around here, so any time you turn the ball over, it’s detrimental,” said quarterback Brett Rypien Monday. “There’s no excuse for that.” Rypien may have a little bit of an excuse. All three of his interceptions last week were off deflections, and only one of them was not well-thrown. On the other hand, his pitchout that was fumbled by Jeremy McNichols was off the mark. The maddening thing about the miscues in the New Mexico game was the apparent loss of concentration on many of those plays, including the numerous dropped passes. Are these the real Broncos? I don’t know why it manifests itself in one game, but I don’t think those are the real Broncos. How easily could that have been a 41-17 Boise State win? But it wasn’t, of course.

Air Force’s win over Utah State last Saturday was wild, but it was relatively clean. There was just one turnover in that one, an interception grabbed by the Falcons’ Weston Steelhammer. You remember Weston Steelhammer, don’t you? He’s the guy who had a season on one September night last year, picking off Grant Hedrick two times and Ryan Finley once during that meltdown in Colorado Springs. Steelhammer leads the Falcons with four interceptions this season. He’s also tops on the team with 30 tackles and has posted eight tackles-for-loss. Which brings up this footnote: Air Force has recorded 63 tackles-for-loss and 30 sacks this year. Its quarterbacks have not been sacked once.

On a more positive note (it’s about time, eh?), there are 20 Boise State players ready to march out for Senior Night tomorrow, including highly-decorated ones like Donte Deayon, Marcus Henry, Rees Odhiambo, Darian Thompson and Shane Williams-Rhodes. Sixteen of them started their careers under Chris Petersen, made the transition with Bryan Harsin, and were rewarded with a Fiesta Bowl championship last year.

There are two local seniors, Jake Hardee out of Bishop Kelly and Tyler Horn out of Mountain View. Hardee is a classic Bronco walk-on story. He was lightly-recruited as a Knight and caught on at Boise State, where he had been attending games since he was five with his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He played as a redshirt freshman and caught five passes for 73 yards as a sophomore. Hardee was awarded a scholarship at the beginning of fall camp last year—then went his entire junior year without a catch. That’s why his first career touchdown on Halloween at UNLV was all the more special. Tomorrow I’ll take a different tack on Horn.

Idaho State ends its season Saturday with a road game at Weber State, trying to end a four-game losing streak and avoid a 2-9 season. Coach Mike Kramer knows it’ll be difficult, though. After the Bengals’ 44-20 loss to Montana State in the Holt Arena finale last week, Kramer honestly reflected on the season and said it started to go south on September 12 when Portland State ran a kickoff back for a touchdown and cruised to a 34-14 win. “Could have rolled us up and put us away right then and there,” Kramer said in the Idaho State Journal. “Because (the kickoff) showed how inadequate we were going to be in a lot of areas.” Saturday marks the final game of Madison Mangum’s career. The wide receiver out of Timberline High is ranked 13th in the FCS in touchdown receptions with eight, and 19th in receiving yards with 871.

This is the kind of night a fifth-year senior like Anthony Drmic lives for. Boise State plays probably the biggest game of its hoops season in Tucson against 12th-ranked Arizona, and Drmic is excited to suit up for it after missing all but seven games last season with an ankle injury. The scrappy Australian has returned to the lineup with back-to-back 20-point games for the first time in almost two years. “I hadn’t played basketball in a long time, so it’s fun to be out there and making shots,” said Drmic after the win over Northern Arizona. “I love to do it, when my other teammates get me open and set a good screen, I can knock down a shot for them, it’s the best feeling.”

My first thought when I consider Arizona’s McKale Center is how Boise State will respond to that kind of crowd. The Wildcats drew 14,238 when they routed Bradley Monday night. But you have to remember how the Broncos did in that type of atmosphere last season. They picked up their first-ever road victories at New Mexico, Utah State, UNLV and San Diego State before large and hostile crowds. “It’s an opportunity,” said Drmic. “Great team, (and we’re) going to a great venue. You just got to let it rip. If we can play good defense then the offense will come, and you never know. So we’ll have to see what happens on Thursday.” Daron Sutton will be calling the game for the Pac-12 Networks. Little-known fact: he was a pitcher for the Boise Hawks in 1992 and is the son of Hall of Fame hurler Don Sutton.

A 14-point deficit with six minutes left in the game became one point with 1:04 remaining, but the Idaho Stampede couldn’t overcome Iowa. The Stampede lost their home opener in CenturyLink Arena last night, 94-87. Perry Jones III, No. 2 behind the Stamps’ Jeff Ayres in the D-League’s current NBA Prospect Watch, was outstanding for the Energy, with 35 points and 14 rebounds. Ayres also had a double-double, scoring 16 points and adding 10 boards. Newly-arrived Jack Cooley played 31 minutes for the Stamps—he scored only four points but pulled down 14 rebounds. Idaho is back on the court Saturday night, hosting the Bakersfield Jam.

The Idaho Steelheads finally got off the schneid last night, ending their six-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime win at Colorado. The Steelheads broke a scoreless tie with a goal from Colton Beck three minutes into the third period, then nursed the 1-0 lead down the stretch. When the Eagles tied it with less than four minutes remaining, there had to be anxiety on the Steelies’ bench. But Brandon Magee rammed home an unassisted goal 52 seconds into overtime to end it. Idaho got a big night between the pipes from Maxime Lagace, who rejected 29 of 30 Colorado shots on goal. The series resumes in Loveland tomorrow night.

Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge tees off today at the RSM Classic in Sea Island, GA, coming off his first missed cut of the PGA Tour season. Aldridge shot a pair of even-par 71’s last week and was short of playing the weekend by two strokes. The one-time Boise State golfer has won $119,568 in four tournaments as he returns to the big tour for the first time since 2009. Aldridge is 87th in FedEx Cup standings.

This Day In Sports…November 19, 2010, five years ago today:

Boise State improves to 10-0 with a 51-0 rout of Fresno State, the first shutout suffered by the Bulldogs in 12 years. More records fell before a Friday night full house at Bronco Stadium and an ESPN2 audience, as Kellen Moore became Boise State’s career passing yards leader, Titus Young became the Broncos’ career receiving yards leader, and Kyle Brotzman kicked his way into the school lead in career scoring. The Broncos, wearing all orange, were stellar on defense, holding Fresno State to only 125 yards. It was the first time in 40 years Boise State had registered three shutouts in one season.

(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.)