This competition could be a real kick

Until Boise State kicks off against Florida State seven months from today, the lasting memory of Bronco special teams will be the blocked extra point against Fresno State that effectively doomed a Mountain West championship. It wasn’t the kicker so much as the protection, but anxious fans are still eager for a new toe. There will be a lively battle for the placekicking spot this year, as apparently a graduate transfer has been added to the mix. Not just any grad transfer, but a Division III kicker from Trinity College in Connecticut named Eric Sachse. His singular goal last season was to get a look from an FBS school and spend his final year there, and the Broncos are giving him a look. Sachse connected on 29 of 36 career field goal attempts at Trinity.

There was a feature in the Hartford Courant way back in September regarding Sachse’s dream scenario for 2019. Part of the story centered around a 50-yard field goal he had made the previous week. It was a school record—and an extremely rare feat at the Division III level. There are precedents for this move. Columnist Mike Anthony noted, “Bills kicker Steven Hauschka played three seasons at Middlebury, Trinity’s rival in Division III, before spending a year as a graduate student with N.C. State. He has played for five NFL teams, winning a Super Bowl with Seattle in 2013. “That’s pretty much a dream come true for (him), and exactly what I’m looking for,” Sachse said. At Boise State, Sachse would be competing with current Bronco Joel Velazquez, preferred walkon Kyle Sentkowski and new commit Gavin Wale.


Stewart Mandel of The Athletic graded all 27 FBS new coaching hires in the offseason. Here are a few notables. Appalachian State (B): N.C. State OC Eli Drinkwitz. Mandel: “Drinkwitz, 35, has been pegged as a future head coach for some time, and this is a natural starting point.” Utah State (D): Utah assistant head coach Gary Andersen. Mandel: “After Andersen abruptly left Oregon State at midseason in 2017, leaving a trail of text messages ripping his assistants, I figured he would never get another head coaching job. But Utah State boosters pressured the school to bring back a guy who went 11-2 there in 2012 before bolting for Wisconsin. What could possibly go wrong?” I think everybody around here is wondering if it can go right, considering everything that’s happened the past six years.

Here’s one more. Texas Tech (A-): Utah State coach Matt Wells. Mandel: “Wells, 45, has been ready for an opportunity like this for some time. He produced two 10-win campaigns in his six years at Utah State, impressively digging out of a mid-tenure swoon by essentially rebranding the Aggies as an offensive juggernaut. Utah State finished second only to Oklahoma last season in averaging 47.5 points per game, and Wells’ respected OC David Yost followed him to Lubbock, where the fans have come to expect high-flying offenses.” I think people are curious about this one, too, because a year ago Wells was lodged firmly in the hotseat in Logan.


Boise State’s bench has been unpredictable in men’s hoops of late. After amassing 34 bench points last Saturday against Wyoming, the Broncos collected only four in the win at Colorado State Tuesday night, all from Zach Haney. Previously, Boise State got just six points off the bench at Air Force and eight against Fresno State—but 18 in the one-point loss to Nevada. And that’s one reason the game was so tight last time out against the Wolf Pack. Plus, only two of those came from RJ Williams. So here’s one man’s theory: if the Bronco bench can contribute at its median level, and the team can get something extra from Williams, it’ll have a shot at No. 8 Nevada in Reno Saturday. Williams snapped out of a slump with 18 points versus Wyoming last week, but he did not score at CSU.


After a sobering loss at Wyoming last Saturday, their first in Mountain West play this season, the Boise State women buckled down last night in a 70-57 win over Colorado State in Taco Bell Arena. Star guard Riley Lupfer broke out of a mini-slump, scoring 22 points and drilling six three-pointers. Three of the treys came on consecutive possessions in the third quarter as the Broncos built a 19-point lead. Although it’s struggling this season, CSU had won four straight conference regular season titles before Boise State snapped the streak last year, so the Broncos get fired up for the Rams. “It’s always a big game,” said Lupfer. “They’re always at the top of the pack.” Speaking of Pack, Boise State hosts Nevada Saturday.


The biggest women’s game in the West this weekend is No. 14 Utah at No. 9 Oregon State on Sunday, and that means it’s time for a Destiny Slocum update. The former Mountain View High star is everything OSU could have hoped for after sitting out a year as a transfer from Maryland. Slocum leads the Beavers with 15.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. But while we’re at it, let’s go over to the Oregon State men’s team. Remember Jeff Kelley, a center on Bobby Dye’s Boise State breakout team in 1986-87? Kelley’s son, Kylor, is a 7-0 center at OSU who is on the verge of breaking the school single-season record for blocked shots. Kelley leads the nation in that category, averaging just under four per game. He once had 17 blocks in a high school game. He looks like Jeff, too.


Jeff King scored just 45 seconds into the game for the Idaho Steelheads last night at Allen. But the Steelheads didn’t find the net again until 3½ minutes remained in the game, and the Americans skated away with a 4-2 victory. It was a remarkably clean game considering the dislike these teams have for each other—only 12 combined penalty minutes. Goalie Tomas Sholl took the loss and is now 15-7-0 on the season.


Let’s talk about the weather this winter for a moment. Wow. It’s January 31, yet College of Idaho is opening its 2019 home baseball season today against Providence Christian at Wolfe Field. The rain expected this weekend has forced the Coyotes to tweak this week’s slate, creating doubleheaders today and Friday starting at 11 a.m. This marks the start of a 24-game homestand for the Yotes. When I saw “24-game homestand” in Mike Safford’s email, I thought it was a typo. But Safford never makes typos, and the Coyotes indeed will be at Wolfe Field for every game between now and the middle of March. It just goes to show, it will be possible for Boise State to play winter home games when the Broncos reboot their program next year.

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

January 31, 1919: The birthday of one of the most important trailblazers in sports. Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was MLB’s first Rookie of the Year. Two years later Robinson became the first black player to be named National League Most Valuable Player. He played in six World Series and helped the Dodgers win it all in 1955. He had previously served in World War II and starred in football at UCLA. Robinson was inducted into Baseball’s Hall Of Fame in 1962. Jackie Robinson would have been 100 years old today.

(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.)