Boise State may have lost by 20 points at Nevada last Saturday, but I would venture to say if the Broncos play the same way tonight versus UNLV, they will win. If they shoot well, score in the 70’s and take care of the ball, they’ll probably be fine. Boise State will want to bear down on the boards, though, and free throw shooting could be an Achilles heel (the Broncos were just 12-for-19 from the stripe in Reno). They could also use more help in the scoring column. Against the Wolf Pack, it was David Wacker two, Marcus Dickinson zero, Pat Dembley zero and Malek Harwell zero. The Rebels don’t have the chemistry the Pack has, though, and make more unforced errors than their hated rival from up north. UNLV has struggled on the road, losing its last three away from Las Vegas by 17, 17 and 18 points.
Considering the expectations that annually dog the UNLV men’s basketball program, you can call coach Marvin Menzies “embattled” right now. After the Rebels’ 82-65 loss at Utah State last Saturday, UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said Menzies’ job status will be evaluated at the end of the season. “The program is doing some very good things academically and in the community,” Reed-Francois told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Not encouraging. Menzies is in his third season at UNLV and is 42-44 overall, with two years remaining on his contract. Menzies came to Las Vegas from New Mexico State, where he was 198-111 and made five NCAA Tournaments.
Boise State is 6-1 all-time against UNLV in Taco Bell Arena. But there’s an asterisk: three of the last four games in Boise have gone to overtime, including the Broncos’ 93-91 victory last year in front of 10,137 fans. And with the parity in the Mountain West this winter, anything can happen tonight. The Broncos and Rebels are churning along in the middle of the Mountain West standings—both teams are 5-4 in conference and need this win tonight. What would constitute a good crowd? It’s not going to be 10,000, partly because the 9:00 start time wipes so many fans out. I’ll put the over/under at 5,500.
ONE LESS TOE IN THE COMPETITION
Today is the old-fashioned National Letter of Intent Day for college football. Boise State will likely announce three more signees, including kicker/punter Gavin Wale of Henderson, NV. The Broncos could also reveal graduate transfer kicker Eric Sachse from Division III Trinity College in Connecticut. But there’ll be no mention of preferred walk-on kicker Kyle Sentkowski from College of the Siskiyous in Northern California. That’s because, as KTIK’s John Patrick reports, Sentkowski has changed his mind and is back on the market. So, for now, it’s Wale and Sachse against returnee Joel Velazquez for the much-scrutinized 2019 placekicking job with the Broncos.
GARRETT EXPECTS MORE WITH MOORE
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett isn’t thinking beyond next season. And why would he? Owner Jerry Jones isn’t going to extend his contract. But Garrett is excited about 2019 and his new offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore. Garrett, in Atlanta over the weekend with Jones for the NFL Honors celebration and the Super Bowl, went on about Moore’s intelligence as player, but admitted that Kellen’s lack of experience has factored into some of the team’s other staff moves, like bringing aboard Jon Kitna as quarterbacks coach. “He’s young,” Garrett said of Moore. “We recognize that he doesn’t have a lot of experience as a coach, but we’re going to surround him with some good veteran coaches who are going to help him grow in this role. We really think he’s going to respond well. It’ll be a good combination for our players.”
Other NFL notes involving former Boise State standouts: I was crying wolf on Tanner Vallejo’s predicament Tuesday. After being cut by Cleveland, I thought the third-year linebacker had a tough row to hoe. Not so, however, as he has already been claimed off waivers by the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards especially like Vallejo as a special teams player. And, with one-time Boise State offensive line coach Chris Strausser now departed in Denver, will new free agent Matt Paradis shop himself around? The former Council Lumberjack broke his leg last fall, ending a streak of 57 straight starts at center for the Broncos. The run included Super Bowl 50, when he anchored the O-line to polish off Peyton Manning’s final season. Paradis always grades out as one of the best centers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
STEELIES LOOK TO KEEP GRIZZLIES AT ARM’S LENGTH
The Idaho Steelheads’ nine-game road swing wraps up this weekend with a three-game series at Utah beginning tonight. The Grizzlies are just two points behind the first-place Steelheads in the ECHL’s Mountain Division. This week will be the last time the rivals meet until the final series of the regular season in April. The Steelies will be without forward Brad McClure, who’s been recalled by Texas of the AHL for the second time this season. McClure is third among ECHL rookies in scoring with 39 points and leads Idaho with 19 goals.
MORE HOOPS ON THE UP-AND-UP
For the first time since 2008, the Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball team is ranked in NCAA Division II. The Nighthawks, now 15-3 overall and tied for first in the GNAC, debuted at No. 24 in the coaches’ poll Tuesday. It’s just the second time NNU has made the poll since moving to the NCAA almost 18 years ago. The rankings are old-hat to the Nighthawks women’s team, which was No. 1 in the land a couple weeks ago. NNU is back up to No. 7 this week after upping its record to 19-1. These Nighthawks are also tied for first in the GNAC. Both NNU teams are on the road this weekend.
The Boise State women have a tricky test coming up tonight at UNLV. The Broncos have won 13 of their last 14 games in the month of February dating back two years. The only loss was a 77-54 rout at the hands of the Rebels in Thomas & Mack Center a year ago. This season’s UNLV squad started 2-9 in non-conference play but has gotten healthy and is 5-4 in the Mountain West. An underappreciated stat in Boise State’s corner is rebounding—the Broncos had a whopping 73-45 advantage on the boards in last week’s wins over Colorado State and Nevada.
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February 6, 2011: Boise State has two alums in the Super Bowl for the first time—and two Super Bowl champions for the first time. Starting left guard Daryn Colledge and fullback Korey Hall earned rings in Green Bay’s 31-25 win over Pittsburgh at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Hall became the first former Bronco ever to record a Super Bowl offensive stat, as modest as it was. The pride of Glenns Ferry gathered in a two-yard pass from MVP Aaron Rodgers during the Packers’ first touchdown drive. Super Bowl XLV was the most-watched television event of all time.
(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.)