Thursday, August 22, 2013.
USA Today hasn’t gone down the trendy Fresno State road when handicapping the Mountain West race this season. The publication’s Paul Myerberg thinks the Broncos’ pedigree counts for something. “Boise State is usually unbeatable when coach Chris Petersen returns a starting quarterback, as he does with senior Joe Southwick,” writes Myerberg. “If Boise State can get past Washington and Brigham Young during non-conference play, it will open a road to a 12-0 regular season that would include wins against Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State and Air Force. The Mountain West is skewed toward its top five or six teams. But outside of UNLV, there should be increased competitiveness across the board.”
It’s the “increased cometitiveness” that’s the wild card. Three current members of the Mountain West finished last season in the Top 25, and two of them (Utah State and San Jose State) were in the WAC at the time. The Broncos face the Aggies on the road in addition to Fresno State and San Diego State. Myerberg’s bottom line, however: “Expect Boise State again to challenge for an at-large BCS bid. Also expect the Broncos to make a run at a 12-0 regular season, which might put them in position to play for a national championship during the final season of the BCS.” There aren’t many pundits who go that far with Boise State this year.
Boise State-Fresno State is indeed Myerberg’s Mountain West Game of the Year, though. He just points to the fact that the Broncos have beaten the Bulldogs seven straight times—and 11 of the last 12. Fresno State has that date with its rival cautiously circled. “First and foremost, we’re worried about Rutgers August 29,” said Bulldog free safety Derron Smith at Mountain West Media Days. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all summer. But obviously, (Boise State) is a big game—there’s no way to look past that. We get ‘em at home. We have the skills, we have the confidence. We feel like this is the time we need to get the job done.”
While we’re on the subject of conference rivalries, let’s get a Cody Fajardo quote out there. Fajardo was at Bronco Stadium two years ago but didn’t play because of an undisclosed injury. So the junior quarterback awaits in eager anticipation, glad that the Broncos are still in the Mountain West. “I love playing Boise, the atmosphere is great,” Fajardo said. “Whether it’s in Boise or in Reno—their fans are great, our fans are great. It’s obviously a big rivalry because it’s always going to be a four-quarter game, it’s always going to be physical, and it’s always going to come down to the end. So we’re happy they stayed.”
With Chad Chalich settling in as Idaho’s apparent starting quarterback, you may wonder whatever happened to Dominique Blackman, last year’s starter. Blackman was kicked off the team last October for a violation of team rules a week after the firing of coach Robb Akey. Well, Blackman isn’t terribly far away now, having joined the Eastern Oregon program. This is the fifth collegiate stop for the 6-5, 257-pounder. Blackman started his career as a Washington commit before going to Old Dominion and L.A. Harbor College. Eastern Oregon has him listed as a junior. If Blackman’s actually a junior in NAIA eligibility, he has a chance to face the College of Idaho in 2014 in the first year of the Coyotes’ revived football program. If he’s still around.
More on Jamar Taylor. According to the Miami Herald, the former Boise State star is not in the Dolphins’ defensive plans right now. Writes Armando Salguero: “Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle indicated CB Jamar Taylor is not a candidate to play in the nickel package at this point because of the practice time he has missed during training camp. Coyle said Taylor could be a part of the package later in the season when he develops more.” His sports hernia surgery in May has done him no favors at this point.
The Boise Hawks got themselves straightened out last night, and they did it against the top team in the Northwest League’s South Division. The Hawks began a three-game series at Salem-Keizer with a 5-2 victory, ending a four-game losing streak. Yasiel Balaguert’s drought is over, and that was a key to the win. Balaguert singled in two runs in the third inning, giving him four RBI in the past two games and a league-leading 45 for the season. Lance Rymel gave the Hawks insurance in the seventh with a rare squeeze bunt that brought in David Bode. Rymel collected another RBI in the ninth, providing the final margin.
Graham DeLaet tees off this morning at The Barclays, kicking off the four-event FedExCup Playoffs in Jersey City, NJ, with Manhattan’s skyline as a backdrop. DeLaet is No. 34 in FedEx Cup standings—he needs to be in the top 30 after the first three tournaments to advance to the Tour Championship. But anything can happen, as FedExCup points are worth five times as much in the playoffs. After The Barclays the standings will be recalculated and the top 100 golfers will make the Deutsche Bank Championship. Then the standings will be re-worked again and only 70 players will move on to the BMW Championship. DeLaet will be playing today with Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood.
If this is crunch time for DeLaet, it’s a make-or-break week for his former Boise State teammate, Troy Merritt. This is the final week of the regular season on the Web.com Tour, and Merritt goes into the Cox Classic in Omaha ranked 72nd on the circuit’s money list. He has to finish in the top 75 to advance to the Web.com Tour Finals, a four-event grinder beginning next week. Merritt hasn’t made a cut since the Albertsons Boise Open—he needs to make it this week.
Brad Ralph is stocking up on defensemen. The Idaho Steelheads coach has added two more to his training camp roster, Tyler Elbrecht and Mike Beck, both rookies. Elbrecht just finished a four-year career at Minnesota State, where he was captain as a junior and senior. Beck spent the past two seasons in Sweden and Norway after a four-year college career at New Hampshire. During his season in Sweden, Beck led the league in assists and points for a defenseman.
This Day In Sports…August 22, 1993, 20 years ago today:
University of Washington head coach Don James resigns after 18 years at the helm in protest over harsh sanctions imposed on the Husky program by the Pac-10. Despite the fact that the Huskies turned themselves in over preferential treatment of players, the conference placed them on two years’ probation with no bowl games and took away a year’s TV money. James was aghast—and abruptly retired with more Pac-10 wins than anyone in history.
(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.)