Thursday, November 14, 2013.
Brett Smith has piled up some impressive statistics in his nearly three full seasons as Wyoming’s starting quarterback. But not many of the numbers have come against Boise State. Smith gets another chance Saturday night at Bronco Stadium. By this time of the season, Smith is usually dinged up due to the way he plays the game, with ferocious physicality. On the blue turf in November two years ago, Smith passed for just 78 yards on 25 attempts with one touchdown and one interception while rushing for 37. Last October in Laramie, Smith threw for 216 yards, but it took 35 attempts to do it. And he rushed for just nine yards, thanks in large part to four Boise State sacks. Whether the Broncos are healthy enough on the defensive line to pin their ears back against Smith Saturday remains to be seen.
The Wyoming offense can light it up. It’s 16th in the nation in total offense at 492 yards per game. The Cowboys were particularly potent early in the season, especially out of the gate when they rolled up 602 yards and 34 points at Nebraska. But they’re coming off season lows with 10 points (all in the first quarter), 296 total yards and 140 passing yards against Fresno State. It’s the Pokes’ defense that is under the most scrutiny, though. In its last three games, Wyoming has allowed 151 points and 1,751 yards. And defensive coordinator Chris Tormey, the former Idaho and Nevada head coach, was fired right in the middle of it. Jamar Cain’s debut as interim D-coordinator started well but ended with a yield of 48 points and 600 yards versus the Bulldogs.
Every time you’re tempted to take things for granted against Wyoming’s defense, remember the start the Boise State offense had against the Cowboys two years ago on the blue turf. The Broncos had this quarterback named Kellen Moore, and his first pass attempt of the game was intercepted and returned 29 yards for a touchdown by Wyoming’s Luke Anderson. Then Boise State was forced to punt on its next three possessions. Trailing 7-0 midway through the second quarter, the Broncos finally ground out an 87-yard drive on 17 plays to score with just 1:10 left before the intermission. Certainly Grant Hedrick and company will start faster than that Saturday, won’t they?
From nesn.com (the New England Sports Network) comes this gem: “Pee Wee Football Team Take Cue From Boise State, Pulls Off Statue of Liberty Play to Perfection.” Here’s the description: “These kids may not know how to spell ‘Statue of Liberty,’ but they sure can run the play with the best of them. The Suniland Sundevils, a pee wee football team comprised of kids five to six years old, pulled off the trick play to perfection (last) weekend. Taking their opponents by surprise—a defense who presumably watches Sesame Street over Boise State games—the Sundevils took the ball in easily for the score.” You can see the little guys execute the play flawlessly at nesn.com. I swear I see a mini-Z and a mini-Ian.
Northern Illinois made its statement last night, beating Ball State 48-27 (although the game was much closer than the score indicates). Star quarterback Jordan Lynch threw for 345 yards and rushed for 123 for the Huskies, ranked 15th in the BCS Standings. Fresno State, ranked 14th, has to wait until Sunday for the new standings to come out, without being able to do anything about it. The Bulldogs are on a bye this week.
Former Boise State assistant coaches have fanned out across the country in recent years. Among them there’s no one on the hot seat more then Brent Pease, now in his second season as offensive coordinator at Florida. The Gators are 4-5 and are desperately trying to avoid their first losing season since 1979. They just lost to Vanderbilt at home for the first time since 1945. And the Florida offense is shouldering most of the blame. The Gators are last in the SEC with an average of 336 yards per game and are second-to-last in scoring at 20.6 points a game.
“It's the same thing we tell the kids, you've got to be mentally tough,” Pease told the Orlando Sentinel. “You've got to shut it out sometimes. And I understand what people are saying and frustrated with. I mean, do they understand all of the circumstances? Not all of the time.” The circumstances are injuries. Florida lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel for the season in September and his backup, Tyler Murphy, is playing hurt. There’s been a spat of season-ending injuries. “It’s tough,” Pease said of the injuries. “I mean, what are you going to do? You got to play the cards you’re dealt.” Former Boise State assistant Jeff Choate is also on Will Muschamp’s beleaguered staff as outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.
Idaho State’s next attempt to reach that elusive four-win threshold comes Saturday when the Bengals, well, never mind. ISU will be in Provo taking on BYU. Let’s go to the Luke Austin watch. The former Skyview High star leads the Big Sky with an average of 7.9 catches per game and 116.5 receiving yards per game. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, the sophomore from Highland High in Pocatello, will be facing his hometown school for the first time. After being stifled at Wisconsin last week, Hill is now averaging 99.3 rushing yards and 247.3 passing yards per game.
Boise State basketball inked two prep standouts on the first day of the November signing period yesterday. Coach Leon Rice signed center David Wacker of Converse, TX, and guard Chandler Hutchison of Mission Viejo, CA. Wacker is ranked as the No. 21 center in the country in the class of 2014 by Scout.com and the No. 11 overall prospect in Texas by TexasHoops.com. Hutchison is one of those tall perimeter players the Broncos have grown to like—he’s 6-6 and is ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the state of California for the class of 2014 by ESPN.com. Rice is known now as a molder of young men and talent, and he evidently has the right guys. “We are very excited about both of these young men because of their tremendous upside,” he said.
Idaho got its fill of the Big 12 last night, suffering an 85-65 loss at Oklahoma. The Vandals were solid early and took a 17-11 lead midway through the first half before the Sooners took command. Idaho returns home to face Northwest Nazarene Saturday night in Memorial Gym. Since its United Heritage Mayors’ Cup loss to the College of Idaho, NNU has gone 1-1 in its first two counting games of the season. Saturday’s game will be an exhibition for the Crusaders and a counter for the Vandals. Idaho fans had better get their hoops fix while they can. After this matchup with NNU, the Vandals will have just one home game in the next six weeks.
It was all Idaho Steelheads in the first period and all Ontario Reign in the second last night in CenturyLink Arena. Eight different Steelheads recorded points in the first stanza, with goals coming from Tommy Grant, Anthony Nigro and Justin Mercier. But Ontario fired back with three unanswered goals in the second period. Then the teams traded momentum in the third. Idaho scored twice, and the Reign answered with a pair of markers, the second one with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. It was there Ontario’s Zach O’Brien won it 1:38 later. The net effect: the Steelies blew leads of 3-0 and 5-3 in falling to 4-4-2 on the season.
This Day In Sports…November 14, 1997:
Pro basketball comes to the Treasure Valley, as the Idaho Stampede make their debut at the Idaho Center. The Stampede were led by former Boise State coach Bobby Dye and defeated the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the opener, 102-92. The first points in franchise history came on a three-pointer from guard Rusty LaRue, who at the end of the night was called up by the Chicago Bulls.
(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.)