Wednesday, September 6, 2017.
There was a time not so long ago that Boise State would have built a wall around Brett Rypien on a week like this. He would have been unavailable to the media after having to give way to Montell Cozart last Saturday in the Broncos’ win over Troy. Especially going into a game he’s been waiting for forever—his return to the Palouse, where his Uncle Mark once lit the world on fire for Washington State. But Rypien met with the media yesterday—then did a live interview right off the top of KTIK’s Idaho SportsTalk. Brett did not have to do that. It shows that Rypien is facing his challenges head-on and handling them well. He praised Cozart’s performance and stressed the desire to win. “I’ve stopped worrying about all the external factors that are going on, and now it’s just about me getting better from Week 1 to Week 2,” said Rypien.
Some true freshmen have been added to Boise State’s depth chart, including wide receivers Octavius Evans and CT Thomas. Coincidentally, they wear No. 82 and No. 6, respectively, same as two of last year’s feature receivers, Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson. Evans in particular showed that he could someday fill a Sperbeck-type role after making two catches for 26 yards versus Troy. The sooner the better, as one underappreciated fact in Rypien’s tough day is that he didn’t have Sperbeck running free almost all the time as he did his first two years as a Bronco. A.J. Richardson is a solid possession receiver, and Sean Modster can be a deep threat (he was overthrown by Rypien on a sure touchdown last Saturday). But the Broncos need more at the wideout spot.
The biggest question all week for Boise State will be, “Can Archie Lewis play?” Because the right side of the Bronco offensive line had a rugged go against Troy, and Washington State will present all sorts of problems in the trenches. Andres Preciado started in place of the injured Lewis at right tackle last Saturday—then Boise State tried Eric Quevedo in that spot. Four sacks and 12 total tackles-for-loss later, the need for work on the O-line was apparent. That did Rypien no favors, as he was under constant pressure from the Troy defensive front. That was one reason Cozart came in: his relative escapability. It was hard for the Trojans to prepare for Cozart. Now he’s on film for Washington State’s review.
Boise State slipped a bit in the “others receiving votes” category in both polls yesterday. The Broncos are eighth in line to get into the Top 25 on both the AP and Coaches’ lists. Washington State jumped to No. 20 in the AP Poll and debuted at No. 22 in the Coaches Poll. The Cougars are feeling good right now—a lot better than after last year’s 31-28 loss to the Broncos, when coach Mike Leach called them “a J.C. softball team.” At his Monday press conference Leach said, “We should have won that game.” And you’ve gotta love what running back James Williams said: “Last year we played on their level. We just gotta keep up with our speed and stay on our level like (in the 31-0 win against Montana State).”
UNLV limps into the Palouse Saturday to face a team that’s fairly energized. The Rebels are coming off the wrong side of college football’s biggest point-spread upset ever, and the Vandals are seeking their seventh straight victory dating back to last year. As it is, UI is on its best roll in 23 years. Now Idaho faces a UNLV team it beat in Las Vegas last fall, kick-starting its 9-4 season. The Vandals won 33-30 in overtime on a Matt Linehan touchdown pass, and they’d go 7-2 the rest of the way. The Rebels, on the other hand, are in a different place. They’re being tattooed for their 43-40 loss to Howard. “The Rebels managed to even outdo their own dreadful history,” wrote columnist Ed Graney in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The BYU-Utah rivalry resumes this week, and the Cougars come in searching for answers. Their 20-6 win over Portland State a week and a half ago was nothing to write home about—then they were blanked 27-0 by BYU last Saturday in the Superdome. BYU’s offense did not cross midfield in the game and totaled only 97 yards on the night. Eagle High grad Tanner Mangum was 12-of-24 for just 102 yards with an interception. Mangum and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer are taking heat, including some from coach Kalani Sitake. "I know I’m coming down hard on the offense,” said Sitake. “But let’s face it. That was the issue and Ty knows that. Our offensive players know that and Tanner knows that. We need to fix it.” The Utes opened with a 37-16 win over North Dakota last Thursday.
The NFL season begins tomorrow night with New England hosting Kansas City. But there’ll be no Shea McClellin to follow on the Patriots’ defense. The Pats have placed McClellin on injured reserve, with the possibility of a return mid-season. The former Boise State star has been sidelined since early in traning camp with an undisclosed injury. McClellin, who’s also a key contributor on special teams, finished last season with 41 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries. Meanwhile, Doug Martin versus Jay Ajayi won’t happen in Miami Sunday due to the expected effects of Hurricane Irma. The Buccaneers-Dolphins game will likely be moved to November 19, when both teams have a bye. And Kellen Moore? He has indeed ben re-signed by Dallas.
A simplified wrap of the Boise Hawks 37-39 season: it was all about home runs this year. After hitting just 24 homers in 2016, the Hawks clubbed 63 of them this year, their second-most this decade (one short of the 64 they hit in 2012). But it was that kind of a summer in the Northwest League, too. Boise was third in home runs—two behind Everett and one back of Spokane. Bret Boswell and Daniel Jipping shared the team lead with 11 apiece. Three Hawks made the NWL Year-End All Star Team: Boswell, Danny Edgeworth and Steven Linkous.
The prospect of baseball at Boise State is very real now, as the search process is underway for the Broncos’ first coach in the sport in nearly 40 years. Athletic Director Curt Apsey’s goal is to have his person in place by the end of the year. “I believe a head coach is going to need a year and a half to assemble a staff and put together a recruiting class,” Apsey said. In that case, Boise State could hit the field in the spring of 2020.
This Day In Sports…September 6, 1980:
Boise State opens a season of high expectations with a win beyond anybody’s expectations, a dominating 28-7 upset of Utah at Rice Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Broncos broke the backs of the Utes with two time-consuming drives of 90-plus yards—with Cedric Minter’s running mate at tailback, Terry Zahner, taking his turn at racking up a 100-yard game. Three and a half months later, Boise State would win the Division I-AA national championship.
(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.)