Monday, April 10, 2017.
Boise State’s Blue & Orange Game Saturday was a prototypical spring game. As in, it’s really hard to draw any conclusions from it. But there were some maybes. We may have seen Boise State’s new backup quarterback—not Rathen Ricedorff, but Jake Constantine. Ricedorff came in for a cameo the final two possessions of the evening, otherwise it was Constantine taking all the second-team snaps. The redshirt freshman from Camarillo, CA, got into a rhythm and displayed an ability to hit tight windows, one in particular on a 34-yard strike to A.J. Richardson. Constantine’s completion percentage slipped as the game went on, though; he finished 13-of-28 for 123 yards. As for Richardson, he may have been misplaced on the second team. He was making plays, catching four balls for 74 yards.
We also saw what had been hinted at during Boise State spring football. It’s Ryan Wolpin, not Robert Mahone, who will go into the summer as the No. 2 running back behind presumed starter Alexander Mattison. Wolpin, the senior and one-time walk-on, jitterbugged his way to 74 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, showing a knack for yards-after-contact. The 17 attempts were more than he had all of last season combined. That doesn’t mean Wolpin will get a lot of totes this fall, but it was nice to see him get a chance in the spring game. He made his mark. Mahone netted only eight yards on six carries.
Did I mention tight windows? The Boise State secondary appears to be taking shape, and it was responsible for making the offense work for everything it got. Kekoa Nawahine is grabbing hold of one of the safety spots after a couple acrobatic pass breakups. Cornerback Mike Young, who coach Bryan Harsin talked about early and often this year, owned his side of the field as a boundary corner and had a nice pass breakup of his own. And props to walk-on cornerback Avery Williams. He may not go without a scholarship for long. Not only was Williams named a game captain, he also collected the only turnover of the day on an interception.
There was another huge turnout of Boise State football alumni for the annual Gridiron Social Friday night. First and foremost, there was 101-year-old Lyle Smith, who still calls everyone by name and who received the inevitable long, warm standing ovation. The group included everyone from Jim McMillan and Cedric Minter to Doug Martin. I didn’t get to talk to Martin, as he was surrounded by former Bronco players. But Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders reports that Martin, suspended by the NFL for four games for using Adderall, has completed his rehab and is expected to attend the start of Tampa Bay offseason workouts today. Martin was in good spirits at the Steuckle Sky Center and has been the source of inspirational messages on Twitter, but his status with the Buccaneers in 2017 is still unknown.
Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan is going to have something going into 2017 that he didn’t have last season: the benefit of spring football experience. Linehan missed spring a year ago while rehabbing an injury, but he was in a groove Saturday in the Vandals’ first scrimmage of this spring, going 29-of-41 for 281 yards in the Kibbie Dome. Linehan feels he knows every nuance of Paul Petrino’s offense as he enters his senior year. "I feel way more efficient," said Linehan. "Compared to my last couple years, this is the most comfortable I've felt with this offense. I feel I understand the concepts as good as anybody that's been in his offense."
Boise State coach Leon Rice has a hole to fill in his 2017 recruiting class with the decommit of Roberto Gittens, the star 6-5 forward out of Foss High in Tacoma. “He wants to keep his options open and see what other opportunities are out there for him,” said his high school coach, Mike Cocke’, in the Tacoma News-Tribune. “That’s it. It’s nothing Boise State did or didn’t do. He wants to see what’s out there.” With that, the Broncos can probably cross Gittens off their list. He intends to reclassify to the class of 2018, which will allow him to play AAU basketball and showcase himself in front of more coaches. “I think he will make his decision in early May,” Cocke’ said. Gittens led Goss to its first state title in 17 years this season while averaging 22 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.
What a way to end the regular season. The Idaho Steelheads completed a three-game sweep of the Alaska Aces Saturday night with a 3-2 win, then watched the cheers and tears as the Aces left the ice in Anchorage for the final time. In a show of sportsmanship and respect, the Steelheads gathered on the rink near the tunnel to their locker room and tapped their sticks on the ice in a salute to the Aces and a 20-year rivalry. The Alaska franchise has now folded.
The Steelies certainly have the look of a playoff-ready team. They blanked the Aces 1-0 Friday night for their third consecutive shutout. In fact, Alaska didn’t score until less than four minutes remained Saturday, ending a streak of more than 238 minutes in which Idaho netminders Branden Komm and Landon Bow did not allow a goal. The postseason starts with a best-of-seven series against the Colorado Eagles—Games 1 and 2 are this Friday and Saturday in Loveland.
Sadi Henderson continues carving up the Boise State track and field record book. The Boise State sophomore, already the school record-holder in the 800-meter run, shattered the Broncos’ outdoor mark Friday night with a 2:04.39 in the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State. Henderson finished third in a field that included pros and the best college runners in the country. Henderson’s time is the third-fastest in Division I this season. And it was an emotional win for the Boise State men’s tennis team yesterday, as the Broncos got some feel-good out of its most difficult season in three decades with a 4-3 victory over Idaho. Earlier in the day, Boise State dropped its 20th match of the season in a 4-2 loss to Air Force.
This Day In Sports…April 10, 1962:
It’s the grand opening of Dodger Stadium in the hills above downtown Los Angeles, but the home team loses 6-3 to the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers had played their first four seasons in California at the L.A. Coliseum. Now, Dodger Stadium has stood the test of time. Chavez Ravine worked some magic most of that summer for the Dodgers, who would go into September with a healthy lead over rival San Francisco. But the Giants would catch them on the final day of the season—then beat them in a three-game playoff for the National League pennant.
(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.)