Thursday, August 21, 2014.
Something Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said last Friday night got me thinking. "I've liked what I've seen from Demas," said Harsin after the Broncos' public scrimmage. "I think he brings a little bit different style back there." If Devan Demas can bring that different style this season, Boise State may have a Doug Martin/Jeremy Avery-type contrast like it did in 2009-10. Jay Ajayi has some obvious similarities to Martin—the forward push and the deceptive speed. Martin was 5-9, 201 pounds as a senior, while Ajayi goes into his junior year at 6-0, 216. Avery's 2010 measurables were 5-9 and 173, and Demas stands 5-8 and weighs 174.
Martin and Avery combined for 3,670 yards and 44 touchdowns on the ground in their two seasons as a tandem, and that's when Kellen Moore was the centerpiece of the offense. Avery provided a tremendous change of pace. Remember his game at Fresno State in 2009? He rushed for 186 yards on just 11 carries, setting a school record with 16.9 yards per attempt. Avery also caught five passes for 83 yards in that victory. What a luxury it would be for Boise State to take Ajayi out for a breather and watch Demas run wild.
Ole Miss will be missing one more player for its opener in the Georgia Dome against Boise State a week from tonight. This one won't be quite as glaring as linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, though. True freshman wide receiver Sammy Epps has been suspended for "at least" the Boise State game, according to coach Hugh Freeze. Epps was arrested last weekend for driving without a license and marijuana possession. He had been challenging for playing time at slot receiver.
Judging by social media, the whole world knew about Hurricane Ben in Hawaii. That would be Ben Jay, the Hawaii athletic director who said Monday "there is a very real possibility of football going away." Amidst the uproar, Jay had to later release a statement that said, in part, "My comments at the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics' meeting were made in order to convey a sense of urgency regarding the need to address our current funding model. In no way was I indicating that a decision on program reduction of any sport was under consideration. Rather, I was suggesting that the department's financial situation required that all possible scenarios be reviewed." But the damage was done—you'll still find the original story on websites all over the country, but you won't find Jay's backtracking on many of them.
Kellen Moore has a better chance of sticking for a third NFL season in Detroit than he thought. The league has altered its practice squad rules, expanding the limit from eight to 10 players. More importantly for Moore, the league is permitting teams to carry up to two players on the practice squad with two accrued seasons on a 53-man roster, which is exactly what Moore has. Previously, a player with more than one accrued season would not be eligible. For the Lions to go the practice squad route with Moore, though, they'd have to put him on waivers when they establish their 53-man roster and risk losing him to another team.
Boise State alum Shea McClellin seems to be resuscitating his young NFL career as he moves from defensive end to strong-side linebacker in Chicago. After missing four tackles in the Bears' first preseason game against Philadelphia, he made four stops in last Thursday's 20-19 win over Jacksonville. That included a nifty three-yard tackle-for-loss. "He played better and that was a good first step," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker told the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs. "He got off blocks well. He shed blocks well. I thought he made progress. We expect him to take another step." The moment of truth is approaching. "If McClellin can continue to settle into (at linebacker), the Bears should be able to salvage the 2012 first-round pick," writes Biggs. "If they're going to get real value out of him, he'll eventually need to become a three-down performer."
The PGA Tour's FedExCup Playoffs tee off today with The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, NJ. PGATour.com's Rob Bolton has compiled his power rankings for the playoffs, and he has Graham DeLaet at No. 21. Bolton's thumbnail on the former Boise State star: "The Tour's best talent without a victory has top fives in the last two Barclays. Top 15s in his last two starts. Career-best 28th in points." The field also includes former Bronco Troy Merritt, who played his way into the playoffs this summer. There are 125 golfers competing this week—that will be whittled to 100 and to 75 the next two weeks, with the 30 survivors playing in the Tour Championship.
Jake Stinnett, the Chicago Cubs' second-round draft pick in June, did not disappoint in his Boise Hawks debut last night. Stinnett faced a big-time atmosphere by Northwest League standards with an energetic sellout crowd of 5,157 in Vancouver and threw 2 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings, and Boise went on to a 4-1 win. The former Maryland Terrapin walked just one and struck out four. Jeremy Null tossed 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory. At the plate, the Hawks put up two runs in the third and fifth innings, with Charcer Burks driving in a run in each frame. The Hawks lost the shutout with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when the Canadians' Ryan McBroom boomed a home run over the centerfield scoreboard.
The trade the Oakland A's hoped would pave their way to the World Series isn't looking so good right now. Former Boise Hawk Jeff Samardzija began his stay by the bay strong last month, but yesterday he was roughed up by the Mets for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in what ended up as an 8-5 loss, the A's sixth in the last seven games. Samardzija has lost his last two starts and is now 3-3 with a 4.07 since arriving from Chicago. He was 2-7 with the offensively-challenged Cubs this season, but his ERA was a solid 2.83. The guy who came over with Samardzija from the Cubs, one-time Treasure Valley Community College Chukar Jason Hammel, is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA.
The Idaho Steelheads have yet another returnee in the fold. Defenseman Charlie Dodero has agreed to terms with the Steelies, the eighth player from last season's roster to come back aboard. Dodero joined Idaho just after Christmas last year after being assigned by Hartsford of the AHL. He registered 19 points in 44 games and was voted the Steelies' biggest hitter by fans at the end of the season.
This Day In Sports…August 21, 2007:
The biggest day at the plate by any former Boise Hawk to make the majors, as Garret Anderson of the Los Angeles Angels knocks in 10 runs, a franchise record, in an 18-9 win over the Yankees. Included in Anderson's barrage were a grand slam and a three-run homer. Anderson had the longest big league career of any Hawks alum at 16 seasons. He's still the Angels' all-time leader in games played, at bats, hits, total bases, singles, doubles, grand slams, extra-base hits, career RBIs, and consecutive games with an RBI.
(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.)