Troughton fortifies the Bronco trenches

From the outset of fall camp, Boise State coaches said they liked the talent they had on the offensive line—top to bottom. They have to like it more now. The Broncos inked five players yesterday on college football’s mid-year signing day, and one was a guy we hadn’t heard about, offensive lineman Zach Troughton out of Butte College in California. He just visited last weekend, was offered, and accepted. With starters Mario Yakoo, Steven Baggett and Travis Averill graduating, the need for reinforcements on the O-line is immediate, regardless of the depth Boise State already has. And Troughton’s size could reinforce anything—he’s 6-5, 310 pounds, even before Bronco strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman gets ahold of him. Those are Ryan Clady-type measurables. Now, if Troughton has Clady-type skills…

Boise State’s other four early signees yesterday were previously-known commits, led by the new quarterback, junior college transfer Rathen Ricedorff. Another JC transfer, safety Mike Young of Dodge City Community College in Kansas, is also aboard. Two players elected to graduate early from high school and join the Broncos for the second semester (and spring football): Boise High offensive lineman John Ojukwu and Marques Evans, a defensive back from Newbury Park, CA.

The rock on the much-improved Idaho offensive line this season has been former Capital Eagle Steven Matlock, and there’s a great story in Spokane’s Spokesman-Review about the senior center. Matlock gets to come home next week to finish his Vandal career in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but it’ll be a strange feeling. He lost his mother, Lisa, to heart disease just after his true freshman season three years ago—his father had died in 2009. And Matlock was anxious up in Moscow while his younger brother Scott essentially had no place to go. Scott was eventually adopted by a Wilder family, and he plays football, basketball and golf for Homedale High. Scott will be in Albertsons Stadium a week from today to make some noise for his big brother as he takes on Colorado State.

Dan Wolken at USA Today grades all 17 new coaching hires in the FBS, and he puts two Mountain West schools near the bottom. Wolken gives Nevada a C+ for the hiring of Jay Norvell, writing, “The Wolf Pack were a bit quick on the trigger with Polian, who got Nevada to a pair of bowl games in 2014 and 2015. This is a program without significant resources, and it will be interesting to see how Norvell fares after spending the last 13 years as an offensive assistant at big-boy programs like Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas and UCLA.”

The lowest grade, a C-, went to Fresno State for bringing in Jeff Tedford. “Tedford’s final six years at Cal were a mess both on the field and in the classroom, as he left a significant Academic Progress Rate problem that Sonny Dykes and the current administration had to clean up,” writes Wolken. “Tedford got this job because he’s a former Fresno State player and assistant, but his underachieving record at Cal doesn’t inspire confidence he will get it done having to work with lesser talent.” That goes against the grain of all the positive vibes coming out of the San Joaquin Valley. The Wolf Pack and the Bulldogs, of course, are back on Boise State’s schedule next fall.

Former Boise State quarterback and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford has officially been hired by Western Kentucky. That move gets a B+ from Wolken. “Western Kentucky gets a bright 34-year old who has been part of some terrific coaching staffs at Stanford and Boise State but whose stock dipped a bit this year due to Notre Dame’s struggles,” Wolken writes. “Sanford’s biggest obstacle here may be high expectations after Brohm won back-to-back Conference USA titles.” Sanford talked quite a bit about his Boise State days and the Broncos’ rise during his introductory press conference yesterday.

The Idaho State men’s basketball team brings a marquee Big Sky player into Taco Bell Arena for its matchup against Boise State Sunday afternoon. Ethan Telfair, the senior from Coney Island, NY, is averaging 16.8 points per game and can go off at any moment. Telfair scored 20.2 points per game and logged seven 30-point games in earning first-team All-Big Sky and conference Newcomer of the Year honors last season. He’s struggled against some of ISU’s tougher competition this season, going 1-for-9 with just three points in a 78-44 loss at Wisconsin, for example. But Telfair is worth watching.

Rapid City came to Boise with just seven wins in 23 games this season, but the Rush played some inspired hockey against the Idaho Steelheads last night. After Kellen Lain scored for the Steelheads two minutes into the game, Rapid City put up four unanswered goals before the second period was over and breezed to a 5-2 victory in CenturyLink Arena. The Rush won the special teams battle decisively, going 3-for-4 on the power play and stopping all three of Idaho’s man-advantage opportunities. Idaho goalie Philippe Desrosiers was pulled in favor of Brandon Komm midway through the first period after allowing two goals on four shots. The Steelies have now lost four in a row.

I watched the Army-Navy game last Saturday, not only because the Black Knights’ 21-17 win over the Midshipmen was a classic, but to watch Verne Lundquist’s final college football telecast for CBS. Lundquist has been a constant over all these years in the world of play-by-play. Did you know that he once called a Boise State game? It was not during the Broncos’ current new century run, but during the Division I-AA days. In fact, the first season of I-AA existence. Lundquist handled an ABC regional telecast of the Boise State-Montana State game from Bozeman. The analyst was former Air Force coach Ben Martin, and the spotter was a first-year sports director from KIVI…me. It was very cool. The final result wasn’t, though. Cedric Minter rushed for 208 yards for the Broncos, but the Bobcats rallied to win 31-29.

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December 15, 2011, five years ago today: After a stellar four-year career, Nate Potter becomes Boise State’s second consensus FBS All-American. Potter, the senior left tackle out of Boise’s Timberline High, was named a first-team selection by Sporting News, the final of the five All-America squads that go into the NCAA’s consensus equation. Potter had already made the Football Writers Association of America first team and the AP and Walter Camp second teams. Interestingly enough, Boise State’s other consensus All-American, Ryan Clady in 2007, was also a left tackle.

(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.)