Monday, October 28, 2013.
It would be easy to blame the Boise State offense for not moving the chains enough in the first half to keep the ball out of Taysom Hill’s hands, or to put the onus on the four bad turnovers coughed up by the Broncos. But in the end, it was up to the defense to stop BYU’s offense some time, somehow in the first 30 minutes of the Cougars’ 37-20 win Friday night at Lavell Edwards Stadium. It was a statistical nightmare. BYU rolled up 204 yards on a staggering 33 plays in the first quarter. That was enough for defensive fatigue to set in, especially at 4,500 feet. But there was more. By halftime, the Cougars had posted an unthinkable 376 yards on 52 plays. The Broncos did yield fewer than 200 yards after halftime, but the damage had been done.
Still, the Boise State offense has to feel empty after recording 499 yards against BYU. When the Broncos closed to within 14 points with 10½ minutes left in the game, you wondered what might have been had they not endured consecutive turnovers on the three preceding drives. The issue on the Geraldo Boldewijn and Jay Ajayi fumbles was standard ball security—on Grant Hedrick’s interception, it was accuracy and touch. Those giveways were in addition to the fumble by Shane Williams-Rhodes in the second quarter that led directly to seven BYU points. Then again, when Boise State really needed to stop somebody with the score 34-20, the Cougars marched 47 yards on nine plays and got the field goal that gave them an all-but-insurmountable three possession lead.
Hedrick’s night was a mixed bag—a learning experience, to be sure. He had some negative moments trying to throw over onrushing linemen, and he missed on some connections that, frankly, Joe Southwick would make. But Bronco receivers didn’t make plays that they may have made in years past. Hedrick’s bottom line was 59.5 percent passing on 25-of-42 attempts for 232 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. It was short-yardage stuff outside of a 47-yard completion to Aaron Burks. Hedrick has now felt the pressure of performing in an important road game against a good defense in front of a crowd just shy of 63,000. He can build on this.
Now that the BYU game is in the books as a loss, the only way to spin the rest of the Boise State season is tying it to a Mountain West championship. That goal remains, despite the fact that the Broncos are 5-3 for the first time in 12 years. Which brings me to the subject of streaks. The streaks that went by the wayside Friday night make it sound like the Boise State program has crashed. Really? The Broncos’ unimaginable success over the past 15 years has created streaks that were made to be broken. Fifty straight victories in the month of October? That one dated back to 2001. Twenty-one consecutive wins over schools from the state of Utah, including BYU and Utah? That streak began in 1997. They’ll still look really good in the history book.
The Broncos have to keep their eye on the prize. After all, what would have happened to the Mountain West race had San Diego State made a field goal at the end of regulation Saturday night, one that would have defeated Fresno State? That would have put the Aztecs in a position to win the West Division, and given the Broncos a chance to host the conference championship game. Instead, the Bulldogs survived 35-28 in overtime. Elsewhere in the Mountain West, UNLV ended the eight-year frustration against rival Nevada and won a 27-22 thriller at Mackay Stadium, Air Force fell to 1-7 after a 45-10 bashing at the hands of Notre Dame, San Jose State rallied from a 16-point third quarter deficit to out-gun Wyoming, 51-44, and this Saturday’s Boise State opponent, Colorado State, held off Hawaii 35-28.
Ole Miss scored six touchdowns that covered 30 or more yards Saturday night in running away with a 59-14 win over Idaho. That’s about all you need to know. It was the sixth time in eight games this season the 1-7 Vandals have allowed more than 500 yards (the Rebels totaled 572). Senior quarterback Taylor Davis did what he could in his first start of the season, scoring on a two-yard run and hitting Dezmon Epps with a 62-yard touchdown pass. But Davis was still just 12-of-30 through the air. Idaho returns to the Kibbie Dome to host Texas State this Saturday.
NFL notables involving Boise State products: Daryn Colledge, playing through a back injury, started at left guard for Arizona and helped pave the way for Andre Ellington’s 154-yard rushing day in the Cardinals’ 27-13 win over Atlanta. Former Bronco Nate Potter backed up on the line for the Cards. And Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick had four tackles and a pass deflection in the Cowboys’ crazy 31-30 loss at Detroit. Billy Winn and Jamar Taylor remain sidelined for Cleveland and Miami, respectively. And Seattle’s Jeron Johnson will miss Monday Night Football tonight with his bothersome hamstring injury.
The Idaho Steelheads got out of Loveland, CO, with a weekend split after two goals apiece by Anthony Nigro and Taylor Vause led them to a 5-4 win over Colorado Saturday night. What’s more, Nigor and Vause tallied one short-handed goal each. The Steelheads managed to score five times on just 21 shots on goal while the Eagles were putting up 37 shots. The Steelies had to circle the wagons, as starting goalie Josh Robinson had been recalled by Texas of the AHL earlier in the day. Robinson had allowed four goals in a 4-2 loss to Colorado Friday night—backup Pat Nagle made 33 saves Saturday. The Steelheads return home this Friday night to face the Ontario Reign.
Graham DeLaet was feeling it going into the 15th hole in yesterday’s final round of the CIMB Classic. He had closed to within two shots of the lead in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when his game temporarily got away from him. DeLaet bogeyed 15 and double-bogeyed 16 and was left with a one-under 71 for the day. But the former Boise State star still tied for seventh, four shots off the pace, and took home his first paycheck of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. It was a good one: $218,166.
A pair of losses at the Finny Memorial Classic in Dillon, MT, spoiled the head coaching debut of College of Idaho’s Scott Garson over the weekend. Garson, who replaced Rod Jensen, saw his Coyotes fall to defending Frontier Conference champion Montana Western 100-92 and to Rocky Mountain College 96-86. Antonio Garrett recorded a double-double in each game for C of I—he scored 26 points in the Friday night loss. The Yotes head for LaGrande this Friday and Saturday for the Quinn Classic at Eastern Oregon. The Boise State men’s basketball team unveils itself with an exhibition game this Friday night against Lewis-Clark State.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Lori Orr Hays. Lori passed away Friday after a vailiant battle with cancer. I first met her when she was interning in radio news. She was also a student in a communication lab I was teaching at Boise State 30 years ago. I remember taking the class to the press conference introducing Bobby Dye as the Broncos’ new basketball coach. Lori was very into that process and later interned in the Boise State sports information department. That led to a 27-year career in the athletic department, primarily as a publicist for Olympic sports. But she wore many other hats, not the least of which was friend to all.
This Day In Sports…October 28, 1962:
Y.A. Tittle of the New York Giants becomes the third quarterback in NFL history to throw seven touchdown passes in a game in a 49-34 win over Washington at Yankee Stadium. Only two have thrown for seven TDs since: Minnesota’s Joe Kapp in 1969 and Denver’s Peyton Manning last month. Tittle went on to be named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the second time (the first being in 1957 with the San Francisco 49ers). He just turned 87 years old four days ago.
(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.)