Up to expectations so far

Jeff Linder’s assessment of Boise State men’s basketball carries some weight, because the new Wyoming coach was a Broncos assistant the last time the team was this good (in 2015). Linder knows the inner workings of the Boise State program and head coach Leon Rice. “That is a program that is 10 years in the making, with players who have been coached the right way,” said Linder after his squad lost 83-60 Monday night. “That is a team of juniors and seniors and guys who have been in a lot of games that gives them a toughness.” Now Linder’s task is to avoid a sweep in the rematch tonight in Laramie. For the Broncos, the assignment is to take down another piece of history. A win would improve them to 8-0 in the Mountain West and would mark Boise State’s best start ever in any conference.


There’s a variety of reasons Boise State is beating opponents by an average of 20 points per game right now. The Broncos are shooting 48 percent from the field and are averaging 15 assists per game. But the dirty work is what’s really paying off. Boise State outrebounded Wyoming 47-23 Monday night, including 15 offensive rebounds. The Broncos outscored the Cowboys 16-0 on second-chance points. Don’t get Linder started on that. “Ultimately it comes down to real toughness,” he told the Casper Star-Tribune. “Not fake toughness, but when you’ve got to get stops and you’ve got to find a possession by getting a rebound. You’ve got to find a way to go get it.” Boise State is outrebounding its foes by 9.5 per game. The Broncos have not been bested on the boards once during their 11-game winning streak.


When I saw the social media post of Spencer Danielson and his wife, Raechel, celebrating the birth of their first child, Eleanor, I thought, “This would be a tough time to move to Alabama.” Danielson, Boise State’s defensive line coach, did listen to Bryan Harsin’s Auburn overtures, but it turned out his family is here—in more ways than one. Danielson, as expected, has been named the Broncos’ defensive coordinator (as well as inside linebackers coach) by new coach Andy Avalos. It’s been a lightning-quick ascension for Danielson, who just 3½ years ago was a Boise State grad assistant. “He is someone I’ve watched grow in this profession, both from afar and up close, and I know he is more than ready for this opportunity,” said Avalos. “We are excited to see our innovating and relentless defense.”


When Dan Hawkins was the head coach at Boise State, the term “Davis guys” became a thing. Hawkins played at UC Davis. So did Chris Petersen. (College of Idaho coach Mike Moroski is a Davis guy, for that matter.) Well, Tim Plough is a Davis guy, too, and Avalos has officially announced the hiring of the Aggies offensive coordinator to the same post at Boise State. “His ability to develop quarterbacks and lead explosive and precise offenses is evident by the production of his previous teams, and he has a willingness to invest himself in our university and community,” said Avalos. Magic words: “ability to develop quarterbacks.” Plough’s Aggies offenses piled up the most passing yards in the FCS over the past three years.


Today we salute not a former Boise State Bronco who’ll be on the field in the NFL Playoffs this weekend, but one whose season is over. There was hope that Billy Winn could return to the Green Bay Packers roster early this month, but he remains on injured reserve with a triceps injury. Just the fact that he played six games for the Packers this season and made six tackles is remarkable considering he had been out for three years until the team activated him from the practice squad in September. Winn tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee late in Denver’s 2017 preseason opener and missed all of that season.

Winn was out of football in 2018, still recovering from those injuries. In 2019, he got another shot with Denver but suffered a first triceps injury and was back on the injured reserve list. At the age of 30, Winn could have hung it up. But according to Jason Wilde of the State Journal in Madison, he drew inspiration from his wife, Brooke, who has Lupus and once underwent six hip surgeries in a five-year span. “I said, ‘No, you are not done! You have so much fight left in the tank, and you will bounce back and come back stronger. There is no giving up,’” Brooke told Wilde when recounting the story. And Winn was back in the NFL this season. He was finally hitting his stride again when misfortune struck.


Monday was Mallory McGwire’s day for the Boise State women. McGwire’s 25 points and 15 rebounds carried the Broncos past Wyoming. Don’t be surprised if Game 2 of the series today sees Jade Loville take over. Loville has been the team’s leader, but she stubbed her toe Monday, going just 1-for-9 from the field and scoring two points. This from a player who had dominated for Boise State, averaging a shade under 20 points per game in the first seven games. Monday was an aberration.

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

January 13, 1991, 30 years ago today: The Los Angeles Raiders score a 20-10 AFC Playoff win over Cincinnati, drawing over 92,000 to the L.A. Coliseum back when they still attracted fans there. But the victory would cost 1985 Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson his football career, as a hip injury required four years of rehab and reconstructive surgery. Jackson would try to continue his baseball career and made it eight seasons total in the bigs, but he was never really the same and retired after the 1994 season.

(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.)

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