Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
Sometimes the basket looks like a hula hoop from the three-point line, and sometimes it looks like a thimble. Away from home, it’s been the latter lately for Boise State. In their last three road games, the Broncos are 11-for-57 from beyond the arc. That’s a 19 percent clip. That includes, of course, the infamous 3-for-21 performance at Nevada Saturday. If they had shot even a measly 29 percent in Reno, meaning three more three-balls made, we’d be talking about a different story today. That contrasts sharply with Boise State’s last three games in Taco Bell Arena, during which it’s gone 30-for-64 from three-point land. That’s 47 percent. Theoretically that bodes well for the San Jose State game tomorrow night.
Coach Leon Rice said it on his KBOI postgame show from Nevada Saturday night: Boise State has to get Justinian Jessup going again. The sophomore with the sweet left-handed stroke shot 52 percent from three-point range during the non-conference schedule. Jessup has gone just 30 percent from deep in Mountain West play, including 5-for-24 over the last five games. That was capped by the 0-for-4 bummer against the Wolf Pack. Defenses have started to sag a bit on Jessup around the arc, and that will continue until he gets hot again. Jessup was replaced in the lineup by Alex Hobbs to begin the second half in Reno. We’ll see if that carries over against San Jose State. We can’t forget Jessup’s other contributions on the floor, though—he pulled down eight rebounds versus the Pack.
Nevada climbed back into the AP Top 25 yesterday following its win over Boise State. The Wolf Pack, now 18-3 and owner of a seven-game winning streak, is No. 23 this week. The Pack is second in line to get into the Coaches Poll. Nevada spent a week in the AP Top 25 in early December before back-to-back losses to ranked teams, Texas Tech and TCU. The Wolf Pack has a tough assignment at Wyoming tomorrow night. Boise State received two points in the new AP Poll and five in the Coaches Poll. Neither of the two non-conference teams that beat the Broncos, Iowa State and SMU, garnered any votes this week despite upsets of Top 10 opponents. The Cyclones, in fact, are in last place in the Big 12.
Boise State football tweeted over the weekend that its first two Iron Men of the Week during offseason conditioning are cornerback Avery Williams and John Molchon. The reason that’s significant is leadership for Williams and emergence for Molchon. Who takes charge in the weight room in the winter is important to coaches. Williams established his leadership last spring when he was still a walk-on—and was a named a captain for the Blue & Orange Game. Then he had the memorable 81-yard punt return in the opener against Troy, and by October had played his way into the starting lineup at corner. Molchon’s internal honor tells us he’s moving into his junior year with authority after some ups and downs (but mostly ups at the end) during the 2017 season.
It’s the practices that really count during Super Bowl Week, and drills begin this afternoon in Mobile, AL. Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson, who’s had more than five weeks to heal since being banged up in the Broncos’ Las Vegas Bowl victory over Oregon, is joined by receiving rival Michael Gallup of Colorado State on the North squad, along with two other Mountain West compadres, much-discussed Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and Hawaii safety Trayvon Henderson. If you go by these rosters, San Diego State will have the most NFL Draft picks this spring. The Aztecs have placed national rushing leader Rashaad Penny on the South squad, along with fullback Nick Bawden and cornerback Kameron Kelly. Nevada center Austin Corbett will also suit up for the South.
Assuming Nick Rolovich is still coach at Hawaii next year, he’ll have a throwback attack operating against Boise State when the Broncos and Rainbow Warriors meet again. Rolovich is dusting off June Jones’ old run-and-shoot offense and re-implementing it for the 2018 season. “I just feel most comfortable with it,” said Rolovich in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The run-and-shoot employs four wide receivers who spread the field and run routes based on defensive coverage. Rolovich ran the system as Hawaii’s quarterback in 2000 and 2001—and then as the team’s QB coach and offensive coordinator from 2008-11. The Broncos went 10-2 against the run-and-shoot from 1999-2010. On the heels of Rolovich’s announcement comes word that UH QB Dru Brown is transferring to be closer to his family in Northern California.
Jay Ajayi’s trip to the Super Bowl next week marks the fourth straight season a Boise State product has suited up for the Super Bowl (there have now been 10 overall). Last year’s representative, linebacker Shea McClellin, is still a New England Patriot but has been on injured reserve all season. McClellin was eligible to be activated the first week of November, but the Pats elected not to do that. He’ll still get a Super Bowl ring if New England wins a week from Sunday, so Chicken Dinner Road will still be pulling for the Patriots. The other former Broncos in this streak are Matt Paradis, a current Denver Bronco who was a champion two years ago, and Jeron Johnson, who played for Seattle three seasons ago in its loss to New England. Johnson did get a ring with the Seahawks while on IR four years ago.
The Idaho Steelheads organization is mourning the death of Andrew Carroll, who played two seasons for the team, the most recent coming two years ago. According to his family, Carroll died after accidental fall at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. He played 106 games for the Steelheads and totaled 22 goals and 57 points. At his college alma mater, Minnesota-Duluth, players will wear an “AC” decal on their helmets the rest of this season.
As Brayon Blake keeps rolling, so does Idaho. That is not a coincidence. Blake has been named Big Sky Player of the Week in men’s basketball after leading the Vandals to road wins at Southern Utah and Northern Arizona last week. The senior forward scored a combined 48 points to go with 21 rebounds in the victories, which extended Idaho’s winning streak to three games. Blake, who now has six double-doubles, has led the Big Sky in rebounding virtually all season. He’s currently averaging 9.6 boards per game. Also up north, the Statesman reports that the Vandal football program has received a commitment from Bishop Kelly running back and defensive back Khalil Forehand. He’ll also compete in track. Forehand is the son of one-time Boise State wide receiver Sheldon Forehand.
This Day In Sports…January 23, 2013, five years ago today:
Boise State sets a school and Mountain West record by going 26-for-26 from the free throw line in a 74-67 win over Fresno State at Taco Bell Arena. Sophomore Derrick Marks made all 12 of his free throws on his way to a game-high 30 points. It was the best team performance from the charity stripe in college basketball in four years.
(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.)