Variations on the Broncos’ preparation theme

Today we drill down a bit more on what Boise State coach Bryan Harsin laid out Monday as the Broncos try to rework the linebacker position with the loss of Zeke Noa. Harsin knows what he has in Benton Wickersham, Bruno DeRose and, to a lesser extent, Brandon Hawkins and Nick Provenzano. He knows what he doesn’t have in Josh Booker-Brown, who’s been ruled academically ineligible and will redshirt this season. Harsin seems to be hoping for breakthroughs from redshirt freshmen Californians DJ Schramm and Phillip Mills. “Now you’re elevated into a position where you’re getting more reps,” said Harsin. He basically wants to see what Schramm and Mills are going to do about it.

WEEK-TO-WEEK UNPREDICTABILITY

Harsin will lean on Boise State linebackers coach Zac Alley as they shuffle the depth chart. And something else Harsin mentioned in Monday’s press conference would seem to invite Alley, the former longtime Clemson graduate assistant, to share a few things about preparation with the team this week. Harsin wondered aloud about the wild swings you see in college football. North Carolina almost knocked off No. 1 Clemson last week but fell 21-20 after a two-point conversion came up short. So, Harsin asked, how does that same Tar Heels team lose the week before to Appalachian State? It’s a perfect teaching moment for the Broncos going into the game at UNLV Saturday night. Lack of preparation and mental fortitude are how a 22½-point favorite gets knocked off by a conference also-ran on the road.

CT’S CHUNK YARDAGE

CT Thomas is doing what he always does for Boise State, moving the chains on third (and fourth) down, scoring occasional touchdowns, and inspiring his teammates. But this season he’s added a dimension: stretching the field. Thomas averaged 8.1 yards per catch as a true freshman and 13.1 as a sophomore. A third of the way into this season he’s leading the Broncos with 283 receiving yards and is averaging 20.2 yards per grab. Some question Thomas’ ability to handle a big workload as a smallish receiver (he’s 5-8, 182 pounds). He did miss the Marshall game last month after being shaken up in the win at Florida State. But that’s the only one in his three-year Bronco career.

Shane Williams-Rhodes, the 5-6, 173-pound dynamo, missed four games during his four-year Boise State career from 2012-15—but that’s four out of 53. Williams-Rhodes was durable, a sneaky-quick possession receiver. SWR rarely went deep the way Thomas is now; he never averaged 10 yards a catch during any one season, but he is Boise State’s second-leading all-time receiver with 233 catches.

NO ON-FIELD REUNION FOR WILSON

One game BYU quarterback Zach Wilson certainly had circled on his calendar was the October 19 matchup against Boise State in Provo. Now Wilson is left to wonder what might have been, as he is out 6-8 weeks following surgery on his right hand Tuesday. Wilson suffered a fractured thumb on his throwing hand late in the Cougars’ 28-21 loss at Toledo last Saturday. Wilson, a one-time Broncos commit who flipped to BYU at the 11th hour before signing day in December, 2017, was anxious to atone for the scramble that ended in a sack four yards short of the goal line on the final play of last November’s 21-16 loss on the blue turf. Fellow freshman Jaren Hall takes over at QB in the interim. He’s 4-of-7 for 58 yards this season.

KELLEN’S CRITICS NEED TO CHILL

It’s a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” world in Dallas. Forget that Kellen Moore’s offense averaged 481 yards per game over the first three weeks of the season. The Cowboys managed just 257 in their 12-10 loss at New Orleans Sunday night. Reaction has been predictable in Big D. “Do teams now have a book on Moore?” asked Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. No. Good teams in the NFL occasionally see the wheels fall off, unless you’re the Patriots. It was one game. Kellen will be fine. You can be sure he’ll come up with new stuff. It’s tough to agree with owner Jerry Jones, but he said it well on a Dallas radio station: “The hottest seat, the one that is more likely to have the most criticism, is the offensive coordinator in the NFL. When it doesn’t work and you don’t get the win, then get ready.”

HUTCHISON’S HAMMY

Chandler Hutchison would love to be competing for playing time with Chicago Bulls training camp off and running, but his hamstring is in the way. The former Boise State star is “going to be out for a little bit” due to a left hamstring strain he suffered about four weeks ago during a workout, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls are expecting Hutchison, a 2018 first-round draft pick, to be ready for the start of the regular season. But this is a pivotal camp for the Bulls, trying to recover from a disastrous 22-win season in Hutchison’s rookie year.

HAWKS ALUMS DOTTING PLAYOFF ROSTERS

There could be as many as eight (now seven) former Boise Hawks in baseball’s postseason, depending on who’s chosen for playoff rosters. One of them was active Tuesday night as Washington rallied past Milwaukee 4-3 in the National League Wild Card game. The Brewers’ Jay Jackson, who made 28 appearances this season in middle relief, posted a 4.45 ERA and a 1-0 record. Jackson was a cup-of-coffee guy in Boise, appearing in three games in 2008. Maybe tonight we’ll see Oakland’s Paul Blackburn in the AL Wild Card versus Tampa Bay. Doubtful, though, as he was ineffective in three September appearances. He was a starter for the Hawks in 2013, going 2-3 with a 3.33 ERA. More to come on the rest of the Hawks.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by COLTRIN CENTRAL VAC…home of the VROOM Garage Retract Vac!

October 2, 1978: One of the defining moments in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. The two teams finished the season tied for the American League East lead and went to a one-game playoff at Fenway Park. With Boston seemingly in control and dreaming of its first World Series championship in 60 years, Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to give New York a 5-4 victory. The Yankees would go on to win their second consecutive World Series crown.

(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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