This was to be the year Chuckie Keeton finally played Boise State, and he was looking forward to it. In 2011 and 2012, when Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton was tearing up the WAC as a freshman and sophomore, Boise State was already in the Mountain West. In 2013, Keeton had been injured the week before the Broncos went to Logan for their 34-23 victory. Last year, Keeton’s knee gave out just three games into the season, allowing him a medical redshirt for 2015. This was to be the year Keeton finally played Boise State, and in July he was looking forward to it. “I played on their turf (in the 2012 Famous Potato Bowl)—and we won that game,” Keeton said at Mountain West Media Days. “And that’s what I’m going to hang my hat on.” But he didn’t make it past USU’s loss at Washington in Game 3. Keeton may be back before the end of the season, but not by tomorrow night.
Keeton’s 6,924 career yards of total offense and 60 touchdowns are on hold as he recovers. So the Utah State offensive reins are back in the hands of Kent Myers, who thought he was going to redshirt this year—or, at the very least, play wide receiver. But Myers returned to quarterback after Keeton’s latest injury to lead the Aggies to a 33-18 win over Colorado State two weeks ago and a 56-14 rout of Fresno State last Saturday and is now 7-1 as a starter. His only loss was on the blue last December, a 50-19 decision in which he was 16-of-28 for 159 yards, lost a fumble, threw an intereception and was sacked three times, including a safety. Even with the sacks, though, he rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown. Tomorrow night is Validation Night for Myers.
The only season Keeton played fully healthy was 2012, which leads into another story. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and Utah State coach Matt Wells have been friends since the early 2000’s, when both were young assistants in the old WAC (Harsin with the Broncos and Wells at Tulsa). Both became head coaches in 2013—Harsin at Arkansas State and Wells at USU. Harsin needed a quarterback who could win right away, and the Aggies’ Adam Kennedy was a graduate senior stuck behind Keeton, not knowing the injury that was lying ahead for Chuckie. According to Craig Hislop of the Logan Herald-Journal, Wells talked to Harsin and helped Kennedy land with the Red Wolves. Kennedy started during Harsin’s one year with Arkansas State, leading it to an 8-5 record and a win in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates is still a skeptic. There’s a method to his madness. At the outset of the season he refused to call his unit a great defense. So now that the Broncos are ranked second in the country in rush defense, third in pass efficiency defense, fifth in total defense, and seventh in scoring defense, what’s his definition of a dominant defense? “When we are done with the season and we’re a top 10 defense,” said Yates. “You won’t hear me say we’re dominant until then. Last year I thought we were humbled, and you guys know what game I’m referring to (New Mexico). Dominance to me isn’t a game. It isn’t half a season. It’s a full season.” The second half of the season begins tomorrow night in Logan.
One of the toughest things about building a football program from scratch is getting a defense glued together. The College of Idaho has certainly experienced that since the sport was reborn at the Caldwell school in 2014. That’s why it’s worth recognizing the Coyotes’ defensive effort in last week’s 48-17 win at Montana State-Northern. The 17 points allowed was the lowest point total since football returned to the C of I—the previous best was 24 points in a loss at Montana Western last month. The last time the Yotes allowed fewer than 17 was in November, 1977, in a 14-6 loss at Willamette. The College of Idaho is back home at Simplot Stadium Saturday against Rocky Mountain College.
This will be an interesting Saturday for Idaho State. After playing four games on the road and being blown out of the water in three of them, the Bengals finally return home to Holt Arena to face Big Sky behemoth Eastern Washington. The key for ISU was the last of the four road trips, when they stunned No. 23 North Dakota 37-31. This could be a track meet, as the Eagles are averaging a robust 546 yards per game—and giving up more than that (557). Madison Mangum notes: the Timberline High grad notched his first 100-yard game of the season last week and has made a catch in 18 straight games.
As preseason practice grinds on, there are two intriguing new names in the Boise State backcourt this season (it would be three had Pocatello freshman Malek Harwell not torn his ACL, shelving him for the season). The remaining new-camper guards are Paris Austin, the true freshman from Oakland who led Bishop O’Dowd to the title in the CIF state championship game last spring, and graduate transfer Lonnie Jackson from Boston College. “Paris is struggling with learning the system and all that,” coach Leon Rice told Idaho SportsTalk yesterday from Mountain West Media Days. “He’s been banged up a little in the preseason. Lonnie Jackson is a shooter—he’s going to have some moments for us.” Meanwhile, the College of Idaho has been picked to repeat as champion of the Cascade Conference.
It’s still to be determined who the Idaho Steelheads’ primary goalie will be at the outset of the season as the opener against the Rapid City Rush approaches tomorrow night. Chris Rawlings has Steelheads experience, having joined the team nine games before the regular season ended last March after spending the winter working with a goaltending coach and trying to get his hockey career reignited. Rawlings went 8-0-1 down the stretch with a 2.51 goals-against average and a 91.4 save percentage. Philippe Desrosiers played a full game last Friday and got the win in the exhibition versus Utah. New signee Eric Hartzell drove to Utah in time to play one period in Saturday’s win over the Grizzlies, and Rawlings played the other two.
It’s already time for the 2015-16 PGA Tour season, and there are not two, but three local guys to follow as the Frys.com Open tees off today in Napa, CA. Graham DeLaet enters a comeback year of sorts after a disappointing 2014-15 campaign that saw him finish 112th in the FedExCup standings. Troy Merritt, on the other hand, is trying to build on the best season of his career, with his first PGA Tour victory and a 56th-place on the FedExCup list. Tyler Aldridge makes his return to the big circuit after earning his PGA Tour card with a No. 15 finish on the Web.com Tour money list. Aldridge will be trying to get his rhythm back after missing the cut in the last two tournaments of the Web.com Tour Finals.
If the Chicago Cubs get rid of that 107-year thing the next few weeks, I think they should just leave former Boise Hawk Kyle Schwarber’s epic home run ball where it landed—on top of the big video board. The Cubs are letting it be for now, a good luck charm from Tuesday’s NLDS-clinching victory. The gargantuan shot traveled 438 feet and has been encased in Plexiglass on top of the board, at least until the end of the postseason.
This Day In Sports…October 15, 1994:
In the second year of a bowl ban, Auburn extends its winning streak to 18 games by edging Florida 36-33 in Gainesville. The Gators inserted backup Danny Wuerffel, a future College Hall of Famer, in the second half, and he completed his first nine passes as Florida rallied to take the lead. But an interception by Wuerffel set up the Tiger’s winning touchdown with 30 seconds left. The loss was only the second at “The Swamp” for Gators head coach Steve Spurrier. Losses this year at South Carolina drove Spurrier to resign (not “retire”) this week.
(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.