Monday, January 8, 2018.
Is it the ultimate low point of the season? A turning point? A teachable moment? We won’t know until March. Boise State’s 79-78 overtime loss at Wyoming Saturday night was certainly discouraging, though. For 20 minutes, the Broncos were the team to which we had become accustomed, bolting out to a 17-3 lead and increasing the margin to as many as 17 points before going into the break up 43-27. But stop the presses. The Cowboys scored the first 11 points of the second half, tied the game with 13 minutes left, took their first lead with eight minutes left, and eventually overcame a Boise State squad that was hangin’ on for dear life in OT. Foul or no foul on Chandler Hutchison’s missed layup at the end of regulation, it shouldn’t have come down to that.
So what the heck was it up there at 7,220 feet? At first it looked like it was just the unpredictable chaos you can find in any conference road game. But as the second half progressed, Boise State looked tired and sloppy, and it appeared the elevation was actually taking a toll. The Broncos turned the ball over 18 times and went just 5-for-24 from three-point range. Their reliable scorers could not find the hoop—Hutchison scored 27 points, but he was just 6-for-19 from the field. There’s no shame in losing at Wyoming. The Cowboys are now 2-1 against the top three teams in the Mountain West preseason poll and are looking like this year’s Cinderella. It’s just the way it happened. And it puts a little more urgency on Boise State’s quick turnaround at Fresno State tomorrow night.
As the years went by, all we ended up wanting was for Kellen Moore to be able to take a regular-season snap in an NFL game. The former Boise State great finally did that two years ago in a three-game stretch at the end of the season for the Dallas Cowboys. Now, our final memory of Moore in a game that counts will be his 435-yard performance against Washington, as he reportedly is set to retire as a player. Moore didn’t have the physical attributes of an NFL quarterback, but he certainly had the mental acumen. His probable next move makes that an understatement. The Cowboys are set to name him as their quarterbacks coach at the tender age of 28. We’re awaiting official word. But for Kellen to go straight to an NFL coaching staff without the traditional apprenticeship at lower levels speaks volumes about him.
Tom Ryle of the fan site “Blogging The Boys” at SB Nation shows just how little some fans get it when it comes to Kellen Moore. Writes Ryle: “While the new job would be a clear testament to the faith the Cowboys and particularly (offensive coordionator Scott) Linehan have in him, it is not one that is going to be met with overwhelming approval from observers. Moore was never that proficient on the field, and there have been some questions as to how much he was willing to help Dallas QB Dak Prescott when the two were competing for a roster spot.” Are you kidding me? I know we’re a bit biased in Boise, but where did these “questions” come from? If there’s one thing Kellen is all about, it’s the team—and Prescott.
Tomorrow’s the day the 10th assistant coach can begin work at college football programs around the country, and Spencer Danielson will already be in high gear at Boise State. Danielson was elevated Friday from graduate assistant to coach the STUD ends, a position he worked with this past season. He deserves a lot of the credit for Curtis Weaver’s first-team All-Mountain West honor and Jabril Frazier’s second-team award. Weaver and Frazier combined for 17 sacks in 2017, half of the Broncos’ total. Danielson’s promotion allows for continuity on the defensive line—he’ll be working alongside new defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a.
Following early signing day last month, Boise State’s 2018 recruiting class is all but complete—all except for an incoming high school quarterback. When Zach Wilson decommitted down the stretch in December, ultimately landing at BYU, the Broncos offered a scholarship to Brock Purdy of Gilbert, AZ. B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Purdy is set to visit the Boise State campus this coming weekend. Purdy had what the Arizona Republic called “one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback in Arizona high school football history” as a senior in 2017, throwing for 4,405 yards and a state 6A-record 57 touchdowns. Purdy’s father, Shawn, was part of the Boise Hawks’ first two Northwest League championships in 1991 and 1993 while pitching in the Angels farm system.
The Arizona Daily Star has an obligatory list of 20 prospects for the open head coaching job at Arizona. And obligatorily, it includes former Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, since the current Wildcats DC is the program’s interim head coach. Yates has the support of UA players, but, writes the Daily Star, he “might not be comfortable as the face of a program. He also ran into financial problems while at Boise related to bad business deals and investments, possibly hurting his candidacy if Arizona seeks a ‘baggage free’ successor to Rodriguez.” Bryan Harsin is also on the Daily Star’s list, but it noted that “Harsin has a great thing going at Boise, where he has spent most of his life. (Chris) Petersen didn’t leave there until the perfect job came along.” This wouldn’t seem like the perfect job for Harsin.
NFL Wild Card weekend is over, and so is Tanner Vallejo’s first pro season, with Buffalo’s ugly 10-3 loss at Jacksonville yesterday. The former Boise State linebacker had one special teams tackle for the Bills. Idaho State product Josh Hill will play on after contributing mightily in New Orleans’ 31-26 victory over Carolina. Hill, a Blackfoot High grad who’s in his fifth NFL season (all with the Saints), had three catches for 49 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown from Drew Brees.
After being swept at Utah to end 2017, the Idaho Steelheads got their mojo back to start 2018 with a sweep of Allen over the weekend in CenturyLink Arena. The Americans are infamous as perhaps the ECHL’s most pugilistic team, but the series escaped dust-ups until Saturday night’s 5-0 Steelies victory. For Idaho, the focus was on hockey, with Justin Parizek scoring two goals and goalie Ryan Faragher stopping all 22 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. The Steelheads have now moved back into a tie for second place in the ECHL Mountain Division.
This Day In Sports…January 8, 2007:
Shortly after Florida routs Ohio State 41-14 in the BCS Championship Game, the final college football rankings place Boise State no. 5 in the AP Poll and no. 6 in the Coaches Poll—the school’s highest rankings ever to that point. The nation was still abuzz a week after the Broncos’ now-legendary 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Many called for a playoff system so a team like BSU, the only undefeated school in the country, could play a team like Florida. But the Broncos were satisfied with the ending…and their place in college football lore. It was the fourth time in five years BSU finished the season in the Top 15.
(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.)