Tuesday, December 17, 2013.
Amidst the comings and goings of Coach Pete and Coach Hars (among others—see below), it’s time to remember that the 2013 Boise State season is not over. The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl is a week from tonight at Aloha Stadium, and the final judgment on the Broncos’ pass defense will likely be rendered. Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is elite-level in the Pac-12, the conference’s active leader in career passing yards, and he's just a junior. Mannion has thrown for 4,403 yards this season, completing 66 percent of his throws for 36 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. He’s a more traditional QB, as in—not a threat to run. Mannion has rushed for minus-233 yards this year (a number helped by sacks, of course).
It was another eventful day around the Bleymaier Football Complex. Quarterback Jalen Greene, who became Boise State’s second verbal commitment of 2014 back in April, has reneged and opted for Chris Petersen and Washington. Greene took his official visit to UW over the weekend. The Broncos are now without a QB in the upcoming recruiting class. Boise State has also lost running back Aaron Baltazar, the school confirmed. Baltazar was one of the most up-and-coming freshmen on the 2013 squad, rushing for 234 yards and two touchdowns before being lost for the season with a knee injury against Southern Miss. Since he played as a true freshman, Baltazar has a redshirt year to use, making it easy to transfer to an FBS program.
There was some consolation for Boise State yesterday (although it may seem like small consolation right now). Kent Riddle, an assistant coach that goes back to the beginning of the Broncos’ rise under Dan Hawkins, will join new coach Bryan Harsin’s staff, according to the Statesman. Riddle was Harsin’s assistant head coach and special teams coordinator at Arkansas State. He was on the Bronco staff while Harsin was tight ends coach from 2001-05.
No surprise here—San Diego State isn’t selling bowl game tickets the way it did for its Poinsettia Bowl appearances at Qualcomm Stadium the past two years. But according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Aztecs are happy with the way things have gone for Saturday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Buffalo. SDSU has already topped the number it put up in 2011 for the New Orleans Bowl, when this postseason stuff was shiny and new. The Aztecs sold 1,200 tickets for that game. If they’ve exceeded that for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl—and those fans actually show up—that would be impressive.
With Kentucky and Saint Mary’s on the schedule, we knew that last week was going to be a make-or-break one in Boise State’s quest to make college basketball’s Top 25 for the first time. It was break, as the Broncos are gone from the “others receiving votes” category after the losses to the Wildcats and Gaels. Saint Mary’s has more or less replaced Boise State among the “bubbling under” group, receiving 11 points in the AP Poll and 24 points in the Coaches Poll. San Diego State is the only Mountain West team in the Top 25—the Aztecs are 24th in the AP rankings and 23rd on the Coaches list.
Idaho guard Connor Hill set the table for the Vandals’ return to CenturyLink Arena this week with a WAC Player of the Week honor yesterday. The junior from Post Falls posted a pair of 20-point games as Idaho split road contests at Montana and Portland State. Hill hit nine three-pointers for the week, five of them in Saturday night’s 76-75 win over the Vikings. He is now six treys away from the Vandals’ career record of 168 set by Orlando Lightfoot 20 years ago. Idaho and Idaho State play their neutral-site game in Boise Friday night.
It would have been hard to deny this guy. The Idaho Stampede’s Pierre Jackson has been named the D-League Performer of the Week for the second time this season after a rather spectacular three games. Jackson, the one-time College of Southern Idaho guard who went on to star at Baylor, averaged 34.7 points per game last week and went 12-of-26 from three-point range. The highlight, of course, was Jackson’s 49-point game Saturday night, a Stampede record and the highest-scoring game in the D-League this season. The Stamps play at Bakersfield tomorrow night.
More NFL wrap from the weekend: Jamar Taylor did not play for Miami Sunday as he continues to deal with a lingering hamstring problem. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said in the Miami Herald late last week he feels Taylor is ready to contribute, though. The former Boise State star and second-round 2013 draft pick has played only 45 snaps on defense this year. George Iloka, who identified his school as “THE Boise State University” during the starting lineups on Sunday Night Football, continues his rise. Iloka had six tackles and a pass deflection in Cincinnati’s 30-20 loss at Pittsburgh.
Quintin Mikell turned in another good performance for Carolina, recording five tackles in a 30-20 win over the New York Jets. The big picture, though, was the performance of the entire Panthers secondary. Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes had called the unit Carolina’s “weakest link,” leading up to the game, and the secondary responded accordingly. “With what Santonio said earlier in the week, we had to come out and shut him up. I think we did a good job of that,” Mikell said on the Panthers’ website. “Our thing all year has been that people point the finger at the secondary, and that’s fine. We drive the bus from the back.” Holmes had two catches for 14 yards. Mikell has had a strong season at the age of 33, racking up 47 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
A couple other notables: Billy Winn forced a fumble and had two tackles, including one for loss in Cleveland’s 38-31 loss to Chicago. Shea McClellin didn’t have any stats for the Bears. McClellin hasn’t had a sack since the night he recorded three, including the one that broke Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone six weeks ago. And former Idaho Vandal Justin Veltung made his NFL debut for St. Louis Sunday and returned one punt for seven yards. The Rams signed Veltung off their practice squad on Saturday.
This Day In Sports…December 17, 2011:
In its 15th year, and its first as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise’s bowl game produces a thriller. Utah State, making its first postseason appearance since the inaugural Humanitarian Bowl in 1997, led Ohio the entire way until 13 seconds remained in the game. That’s when Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton ran in a four-yard keeper to give Ohio a 24-23 win, its first bowl victory in school history. The Aggies nevertheless finished with their first winning season since 1996.
(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.)