(TOM SCOTT'S COLUMN WILL RETURN TUESDAY.)
Friday, July 14, 2017.
We're 50 days away from Boise State's 2017 football season--the time of year when the questions start flying about how this team's going to be. Everybody wants to know. A slant on that: the defense is actually going to be fine, while the offense has a lot to prove. That’s where the biggest losses from 2016 are, and that’s where the Broncos are breaking in two new assistant coaches. Quarterback Brett Rypien has been really good the past two seasons; now he has to be great. Same goes for the offensive line, Mason Hampton and Archie Lewis in particular.
Running back Alexander Mattison has to go straight to great from "looks like he's going to be good." That's where Jay Ajayi and Jeremy McNichols set the bar. The wild card: Mattison missed spring football after shoulder surgery in January. “I took my time and tried to make sure I recovered the right way,” said Mattison yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk. “It hurt to sit out in the spring, but I tried to get as many mental reps as I could.” Jake Roh has to return to great, and somebody among his fellow Bronco tight ends has to make a leap. In fact, only one offensive player returning was truly great last year, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who burst on the scene with 56 catches for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Moa Constrictor doesn’t have to wait until the middle of the season for an Outland Trophy watch list nod this year. David Moa, Boise State’s junior nose tackle, is on the Outland docket after setting the table with his big sophomore year. Moa, who’s also on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, was a midseason add to the Outland watch list last fall. Also getting mention on the Outland preseason scroll is offensive tackle Archie Lewis, who started all 13 games for the Broncos last year. Expectations are apparently high for Lewis, who wasn’t on the 2016 All-Mountain West team. The 6-3, 300-pounder, is among the group of key Broncos who sat out spring football due to injury.
Josh Allen is well aware of the outside noise, talking about his prospects as an NFL quarterback. So is his school, the University of Wyoming. So Wyoming is working with Allen on taking out an insurance policy in case he suffers an injury that might put a dent in his NFL Draft status. Many expect Allen to be a first-rounder next spring. He’s been drawing comparisons to Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, but he does have to improve his numbers (he completed only 56 percent of his passes and threw 15 interceptions last season). Peter Prigge, Wyoming’s assistant athletic director for compliance, says Allen would be the first Cowboys athlete to get pro sports insurance protection.
The homer-happy Boise Hawks found themselves tied for first in the Northwest League South Division going into last night’s game at Salem-Keizer. But there would be no Hawks homers on this night. (First place? Second place?) It was bad news from the get-go for Boise. Starter John Valek, who had such a strong beginning this season, recorded just one out while being shelled for six runs.
It would help Troy Merritt’s mojo if he made the cut this weekend at the John Deere Classic after the rough go he’s had the past couple of weeks. At least he has some momentum going into the second round, having finished the first with three birdies over his last five holes for a two-under 69. Merritt is tied for 37th. Tyler Aldridge has a hill to climb today. Aldridge bogeyed three of his first five holes yesterday and shot a three-over 74.
When we saw Sam Querrey in the spotlight in Boise, he was facing off with Novak Djokovic in the 2013 Davis Cup Quarterfinals in Taco Bell Arena. It was the last chance for the U.S. to stay in the match against Serbia. But Querry, after battling in a 7-5 first-set loss, was blitzed by Djokovic 6-1, 6-0 in the final two sets, and the Serbians won. That’s kind of been the story of men’s tennis in the U.S. the past decade: not that close, and definitely no cigar. But here’s Querrey in today’s semifinals at Wimbledon against Marin Cilic after one of the biggest victories of his career, Wednesday’s quarterfinal triumph over Andy Murray. Querrey if the first American make to make it this far since Andy Roddick nine years ago.
The 31st Twilight Criterium will be a lot different than the 30th. Last summer’s races in Downtown Boise featured the final local competition of Kristin Armstrong’s cycling career, as she finished a solid sixth in an event that isn’t her speciality several weeks before her gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Tomorrow she’ll be doing her second-favorite thing, leading the kids ride at 1 p.m. The main events begin at 7 p.m., with perhaps the strongest field in Twilight Criterium history. Several Tour de France veterans are featured this year.
This Day In Sports…July 14, 2013:
At the age of 19, Jordan Spieth becomes the youngest player to win a PGA Tour event in 82 years when he outlasts Zach Johnson and David Heath in a five-hole sudden-death playoff at the John Deere Classic. Spieth had started the final round six strokes back. He holed a 44-foot bunker shot on the 18th hole to make the playoff. And look at him now. Spieth has 13 career victories, including the Masters and the US Open in 2015, when he spent some time as the No. 1 golfer in the world.
(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.)