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Hopes may hinge on the first half

Hopes may hinge on the first half

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on October 30, 2013 at 7:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 7:32 AM

Wednesday, October 30, 2013.

Colorado State's offense did to Hawaii in the first half last Saturday what other offenses have been doing to Boise State in the first two quarters the past couple of weeks, rolling up 318 yards and 35 points on the Warriors.  Bad omen?  Nevada put up 246 yards and 17 points on the Broncos in the first half two weeks ago, while BYU racked up 376 yards and 24 points last Friday.  There’s always talk about the offense needing to get out to a great start—last week in Provo marked only the second time this season the Broncos haven’t gone three-and-out on their first possession.  The Bronco defense needs to embrace the “fast start” theme as well.  The Rams haven’t won a conference title since 2002 and know how important those first 30 minutes will be for them Saturday night.

Colorado State talks more about injuries to key players than Boise State ever will.  CSU junior quarterback Garrett Grayson apparently sprained his ankle late in the fourth quarter of last week's win at Hawaii, and coach Jim McElwain revealed Monday that Grayson wore a protective boot on the flight home from Honolulu.  The team’s trainer wrote on the injury report that “practice is tolerated” for Grayson this week.  How in the world did the “injury report” get out?  It probably won’t affect anything Boise State does in preparation for Saturday’s game.  Grayson has completed 60 percent of his pass attempts this season for 1,847 yards and 14 touchdowns with six interceptions.  Ram backup QB Conner Smith hasn’t attempted a pass yet this season.

It's a different kind of season alright.  Boise State goes into its game Saturday at Colorado State—a team it beat by 50 points on the road two years ago and by 28 on the blue turf last year—as a seven-point favorite.  The Broncos have to be ready for an environment that will be as lit as any at Fort Collins in a long time.  "It's something I haven't ever seen around here since my time at CSU, so it's going to be big for us," Ram junior receiver Charles Lovett said Monday. "It's a game that really matters."  The Coloradoan reports that CSU players have been tweeting, urging fans to fill Hughes Stadium, which seats 32,500.  And McElwain has been making his pitch for a large and loud crowd.  The Rams averaged just 19,895 fans for their first three home games this season.

I’m tellin’ ya, beware ye of the kickoff time when Boise State hosts Wyoming November 16.  It will likely be revealed by next Monday.  ESPN2 has announced the start time for next week’s Fresno State-Wyoming game in Laramie.  How about 8:15 Mountain time?  Egads—8:15 at night on November 9 in War Memorial Stadium?  Average high and low for Laramie in November: 41 and 17.  And that game involves the potential BCS-busting Bulldogs.  You wouldn’t think the Broncos and Cowboys will get any better placement from the Worldwide Leader.

Chris Tormey won’t be revisiting the blue turf November 16.  The former Idaho and Nevada head coach is now the former Wyoming defensive coordinator after being fired by Cowboy coach Dave Christensen yesterday.  The Pokes’ defense has gone south as the season has progressed, yielding 51 points at San Jose State last Saturday and 52 the previous week in a 30-point loss to rival Colorado State.  Tormey joined Wyoming for the 2012 season after two years on the Hawaii staff and five before that at Washington.  Tormey’s most memorable moments remain back-to-back Idaho wins on the blue turf in 1998—a regular season victory versus Boise State on a surprise two-point conversion in overtime (the Vandals’ last win over the Broncos) and a triumph over Southern Miss in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Saturday presents a chance for the Idaho defense to start feeling better about itself.  Texas State comes into the Kibbie Dome for the Dads Weekend game ranked 111th in the nation in total offense, averaging only 332 yards.  The Vandals are second-to-last in the country in total defense, allowing 545 yards an outing.  Texas State just topped 200 yards passing for the first time this season last week.  The Bobcats, guided by former New Mexico, TCU, Texas A&M and Alabama coach Dennis Franchione, has tasted victory more often, though.  They’re 5-3 and are coming off a 33-31 homecoming win over South Alabama.  TSU also throttled Wyoming 42-21 last month.

In past years this announcement would be met with a shrug, as there were always plenty of tickets available in Taco Bell Arena.  But some games could be tricky this season.  So take note of the fact that Boise State basketball single-game tickets go on sale this morning.  Seven games are in what is called the “Premium Tier”: Utah, Saint Mary’s, Utah State, San Diego State, New Mexico, UNLV and Nevada.  The Bronco men and women host their “Heat Up the Hardwood” event tonight, featuring a hot shot competition, a three-point competition, a dunk exhibition and intrasquad scrimmages.  The men play their exhibition game Friday night against Lewis-Clark State.

Anthony Nigro has made an immediate impact for the Idaho Steelheads, evidenced by his ECHL Player of the Week award announced yesterday.  Nigro scored four goals and added two assists in three games last week, helping the Steelheads to a 2-1 record.  In the home opener a week ago, Nigro zipped one home on a power play with just 18.6 seconds left in the game to knot the game against San Francisco at 2-2.  Then he scored again just under two minutes into overtime to give Idaho a 3-2 victory.  Nigro tallied twice in last Saturday’s 5-4 win at Colorado.  The Steelheads hit home ice again Friday night when they host the Ontario Reign at CenturyLink Arena.

A quick check of NBA opening-season rosters shows nine former Idaho Stampede players made the cut.  Eight of them were assigned to the Stampede by NBA clubs at one time or another.  The only player actually cultivated by the Stamps is power forward Anthony Tolliver of the Charlotte Bobcats.  Tolliver played for Idaho in 2009-10 before being called up separately by both Portland and Golden State.  With the Warriors, he scored a career-high 34 points on the night coach Don Nelson became the winningest coach in NBA history.  Tolliver has sinced played for Minnesota and Atlanta.

Others with Stampede or Idaho ties in the league, according to play-by-play man Mark Snider: former coach Bryan Gates, who led the Stamps to their only D-League championship in 2008, is still an assistant for the New Orleans Pelicans.  Scott Williams who assisted coach Mike Peck with the Stamps last season, is now on the Milwaukee Bucks staff.  Also, Mike Terpstra, former NNU head coach, is now an assistant with Oklahoma City Thunder, and former Idaho Vandal Don Newman is currently an assistant with Washington Wizards.

If Boston wins Game 6 tonight and John Lackey gets the victory, it’ll be the second time in 11 years the former Boise Hawk has won the deciding game of the World Series.  He was the Game 7 winner as a rookie with the Anaheim Angels in 2002.  Lackey keeps his turn in the Red Sox Series rotation after he was surprisingly summoned out of the bullpen Sunday night.  The Red Sox protected their Game 4 lead like it was Fort Knox, bringing Lackey in to pitch the eighth inning—three days after he started Game 2.  He saw one batter reach base on an error but threw a scoreless frame in the 4-2 Sox victory over the Cardinals that evened the Series at two games apiece.  Now, with the BoSox up three games-to-two, Lackey will again be facing St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha, who outdueled him in Game 2 last Thursday.

This Day In Sports…October 30, 2003, 10 years ago today:

Boise State plays its first game ever against the most storied football program in the Intermountain West, BYU.  The Broncos were unphased.  They greeted in Provo by a light snowstorm and buried the Cougars, 50-12.  Boise State was on the opposite end of the turnover battle compared to last Friday’s 37-20 loss at BYU.  The Broncos grabbed four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown by Wes Nurse) and blocked a punt for a touchdown.  They also got three TDs and 209 receiving yards from Tim Gilligan.

(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.)