The calendar goes into warp mode now. It is 100 days until Boise State kicks off its 2018 football season on the road at Troy. Between now and then come summer conditioning and player-run practices, followed by fall camp. Amidst all the talk of Boise State’s challenge at Oklahoma State, and BYU’s revenge, and San Diego State’s return to the blue turf, and Fresno State’s “unfinished business” sits the Broncos’ season opener that could cast a pall on everything else. Their focus needs to be squarely on that. The Trojans recovered from a 24-13 in last year’s opener at Albertsons Stadium to go 11-2, including a win at LSU.
So what’s up at Troy now? Gone are 10,000-yard career passer Brandon Silvers and 3,000-yard career rusher Jordan Chunn, but back is coach Neal Brown. Everyone figured Brown would be gone after going 21-5 the last two seasons. But of all the Power 5 head coaching job openings in the offseason, only two went to Group of 5 guys: UCF’s Scott Frost at Nebraska and SMU’s Chad Morris at Arkansas. With Brown intact, Troy will carry the nation’s fourth-longest active winning streak of seven games into the Boise State game.
This we know: it’s highly unlikely that Brett Rypien will have endure a reprise of the game that started his junior year. Rypien just couldn’t get untracked against Troy on the blue turf. After going just 4-for-10 for 40 yards in the second half, and with Boise State nursing a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, coach Bryan Harsin went with Montell Cozart for good. Cozart took the Broncos’ final 23 snaps of the game and led the team to its only two touchdown drives of the day, including a crucial one that would clinch the game with 2:12 remaining. It was symptomatic of a forgettable September for Rypien, one that saw him throw zero touchdown passes. But by the time mid-October rolled around, Rypien was himself, and Boise State was in the process of winning nine of its final 10 games.
Thomas Sperbeck can’t catch an NFL break (not that he doesn’t have other options in his life). Sperbeck was waived yesterday by Tampa Bay after the back problem that cost him a roster spot with the Buccaneers last summer flared up again Tuesday at OTAs. Jeff Sperbeck, his uncle and agent, said the former Boise State star was pain-free when he headed down to join the Bucs. “After one day of (higher-stress) cutting in OTAs, he felt it again,” Jeff Sperbeck said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk. The injury dates back to the middle of his senior year with the Broncos. Jeff Sperbeck says Thomas will see how it goes from here as he rehabs the injury and gets healthy. He finished his degree at Boise State two weeks ago, so one shouldn’t worry too much about him.
Other NFL notes—none of the tryout players out of Boise State who participated in NFL rookie minicamps earlier this month were signed, save for center Marcus Henry in Seattle. Henry and the Seahawks are halfway through their OTAs today. Tight end Jake Roh signed as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta right after the draft last month and is working out at the Falcons’ OTAs this week. The NFL dream is legit for Roh, as there’s a precedent in Atlanta. Former Bronco Tommy Gallarda was brought aboard as a UFA in 2012, made the roster, and got into nine games with the Falcons that season. Gallarda made one catch for seven yards and added a couple of special teams tackles. Ryan Winterswyk, a star defensive end at Boise State, was on Atlanta’s practice squad as a tight end in 2011.
There’ll be 14 Broncos (12 on the women’s side) entering a total of 17 events as the NCAA West Preliminary Track and Field Championships unfold the next three days in Sacramento. The first Bronco with a shot of making nationals is Sadi Henderson, who runs in the first round of the women’s 800-meters tonight. Allie Ostrander and Yusuke Uchikoshi both go into the meet with the fastest qualifying times in the West in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Athletes with the top 12 times or marks this week, along with the 12 best relay teams, will qualify for the NCAA Championships in Eugene June 6-9.
Troy Merritt is taking the week off from the PGA Tour after finishing tied for 53rd last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas. And Graham DeLaet has been in his native Canada doing some charity work as he continues the process of healing his long-time back injury. But there is a local tour pro on the course elsewhere. Boise’s Maddie Sheils is in the field this week at the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, MI. In fact, she’s in the first group off the No. 1 tee this morning. This will be Sheils’ fourth LPGA tournament of the season—she’s seeking to make the cut for the first time.
Boise State has won three of the past four Mountain West women’s basketball championships. A couple familiar Treasure Valley faces have reunited now and will try to keep the Broncos from making it four out of five. Centennial High grad Tori Williams is transferring from Utah to Colorado State, where she’ll play with former Patriots teammate Lauren Brocke. Williams isn’t leaving the Utes for lack of playing time—she started 27 games as a true freshman last season and averaged 9.1 points per game, with a high of 29 in a February win over Washington. The 5-9 guard was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. Brocke, a 6-3 forward, redshirted with the Rams last winter. The duo led Centennial to the 2017 state 5A title.
This Day In Sports…May 24, 1981:
In one of the most controversial Indianapolis 500 races ever, Bobby Unser crosses the finish line first at the Brickyard. But upon reviewing films, USAC officials penalized Unser one lap for illegally passing cars under a caution flag and declared Mario Andretti the winner. It was 4½ months later that the decision would once again be reversed and Unser would become the official 1981 Indy 500 winner.
(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.)