Boise State has a lot of talent returning next season. But there’s always going to be a a restocking process needed at a position group or two, and in 2017 it’ll be the offensive line and the wide receivers. The latter group, already bolstered by a commitment from Cartrell Thomas of Lancaster, TX, got a verbal yesterday from wideout Bryan Thompson from Moreno Valley, CA. Scout.com rates Thompson as the No. 12 wide receiver recruit in the West. The 6-1, 185-pounder led Rancho Verde High to an 11-2 record this season, making 77 catches for 1,377 yards and 14 touchdowns. Rancho Verde coach Jeff Steinburg said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk that Thompson had received 18 offers since the beginning of the recruiting process. Steinberg said Thompson chose the Broncos over Oregon, Utah and Washington State.
Thompson may have the skills to play as a true freshman, and it’s safe to say there’ll be an opportunity at Boise State. Two of the Broncos’ three starters will be gone—Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson will take (so far) 316 catches, 4,912 yards and 25 touchdowns with them. The always talked-about but seldom-produced “second wave” at wideout never materialized this season for Boise State. Sean Modster, Akilian Butler and A.J. Richardson have combined for just 12 receptions for 187 yards and one TD. Bubba Ogbebor, who was activated out of the gate as a true freshman this season, has nary a catch. Cedrick Wilson is going to need some help next fall.
Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey announced yesterday he’s forgoing his senior year with the Cardinal to enter the NFL Draft. McCaffrey, the ultimate Swiss Army knife in college football, provides more competition for Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols should he decide to come out early. If he’s going to do it, you’d think he announce it before the Cactus Bowl. But hmmm…McNichols posted this on Instagram the other night: “When I stop having fun with it, I’ll be done with it.” The accompanying photo shows J-Mac hamming it up with Chanceller James, Raymond Ford, Chaz Anderson and Jabril Frazier on the blue turf following the win over San Jose State. It doesn’t look like he’s stopped having fun with it.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an underdog’s point spread status sink faster than Washington’s this week. It’s like watching the Dow Jones ticker in the fall of 2008. The Huskies were installed as 11-point underdogs to Alabama in the Peach Bowl just after the College Football Playoff pairing were announced Sunday. Money poured in for the Crimson Tide, and the spread has zoomed up to 16 points now. It’s not lost on anyone around here that UW coach Chris Petersen is going for another historic upset 10 years almost to the day after his Boise State squad brought down Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Would an upset of Alabama by the Huskies be even more monumental? Uh, yeah. The Broncos were only 7½-point underdogs to the Sooners on New Year’s Day 2007.
Three weeks into the season, Idaho was 1-2 and had just been outscored a combined 115-20 by Washington State and Washington. Coach Paul Petrino kept the Vandals’ collective chins up, though, and they responded by upsetting UNLV on the road in overtime. Now, Idaho is 8-4 and is headed to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl—and Petrino is the Sun Belt Coach of the Year. 247Sports reports that Petrino has been contacted by Western Kentucky, which has an opening following Jeff Brohm’s hiring by Purdue. Petrino’s brother, Bobby, was head coach at WKU before returning to Louisville. Ironically, contact was first made between Bobby and Western Kentucky four years ago yesterday. The Petrino talk could be a distraction for an Idaho squad that isn’t used to it.
The only Idaho player to earn first-team All-Sun Belt honors was punter Austin Rehkow, who was also the second-team placekicker. All that says is it was a total team effort that got the Vandals into their second bowl game of the new century. Junior quarterback Matt Linehan, senior center Steven Matlock and senior defensive lineman Tueni Lupeamanu all made the Sun Belt second team, as did junior defensive tackle Aikeem Coleman, who was named the conference Newcomer of the Year.
Brent Brennan may be taking on a challenge bigger than the Golden Gate, but he has a lot of folks in his corner as he replaces Ron Caragher as the new head coach at San Jose State coach. Brennan, currently the wide receivers coach at Oregon State, was an assistant with the Spartans from 2005-10 and was strongly endorsed by one of his pupils, former Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones. Brennan was born and raised in that part of the Bay Area—his dad, Steve, played for SJSU in 1967. At Nevada, the Wolf Pack has gone with Arizona State receivers coach and passing game coordinator Jay Norvell as Brian Polian’s replacement. The well-traveled Norvell has spent the past 13 seasons in Power 5 programs. The key for Norvell will be how he connects with Reno and gets fans to come to games.
Boise State’s worst hoops loss of the young season has been the one last Saturday at Evansville, but that wasn’t drop-dead terrible. Still, the Mountain West needs some good news, and it got more of the other kind last night. Conference preseason favorite San Diego State took it on the chin again, falling 76-72 at Grand Canyon. Air Force lost 79-71 at Army, and San Jose State was routed 81-62 at Montana. New Mexico was at home in the Pit last night against 2-4 UTEP, and the Lobos won by just a point, 78-77. The Mountain West is in RPI purgatory. The Broncos try to help the situation Saturday afternoon when they host Portland in Taco Bell Arena.
Division II Concordia was hangin’ around in the fourth quarter last night at Taco Bell Arena. The Cavaliers pulled to within seven points of undefeated Boise State with 9½ minutes left in the game. Then the Broncos embarked on an amazing 26-0 run in less than seven minutes—26-0—and won 71-40. Marta Hermida led Boise State with 21 points. To say this 8-0 start is now in danger would be an understatement, as the Broncos now have an appointment with No. 11 Washington on Sunday in Seattle. Boise State, by the way, received six points in this week’s AP Poll.
The Idaho Steelheads exploded for three goals in the third period last night at Colorado. The problem is, the Steelheads already trailed 5-1 going into the final stanza, and they lost to the Eagles 5-4. It wasn’t goalie Philippe Desrosier’s night—he was pulled in favor of Branden Komm midway through the second period after giving up his fourth goal. But then Desrosiers had to return in the third period when Komm was ejected for fighting Colorado goalie Clarke Saunders. Okay. At the other end, the Steelies got two goals from Travis Walsh and three assists from Will Merchant. The two teams play again tomorrow night and Saturday night in Loveland.
This Day In Sports…December 8, 1990:
One of the classic games in Boise State football history is played in the semi-finals of the Division I-AA playoffs. The Broncos had a rematch with Nevada, a team they beat in Boise four weeks earlier. BSU recovered from a horrible first half when Duane Halliday came off the bench to throw for a career-high 382 yards. The Broncos caught the Wolf Pack in the third quarter—then found themselves trailing 45-38 with less than a minute left when Halliday was injured momentarily and original starter Mike Virden came in to throw a game-tying touchdown pass. Nevada would end up winning in triple overtime, 59-52.
(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.)