Tuesday, September 5, 2017.
We knew Montell Cozart would get into the game for Boise State Saturday against Troy. We did not know that Cozart would take 35 snaps, including the Broncos’ final 23 snaps of the game. We did not know he would lead Boise State to its only two touchdown drives of the day, including a crucial one that would clinch the game with 2:12 remaining. We did not know Cozart would throw the only touchdown pass of the game, nor that he would be the Broncos’ third-leading rusher. In doing whatever it took to win, Boise State has the byproduct: a quarterback controversy—er, sorry, conversation?—after the 24-13 victory. Brett Rypien began his junior year looking uncomfortable and just didn’t appear to be feeling it. Who’d a thunk we’d be looking at this going into the Washington State game?
Remember that thing about Troy returning 98.7 percent of its offensive production from last year? Washington State returns Luke Falk. ‘Nuff said there. But the performance of the young and unheralded but obviously talented Boise State defense Saturday was very encouraging, holding the Trojans three touchdowns below their 2016 scoring average and to 215 yards, exactly half of their total offense norm. Brandon Silvers is a senior quarterback who led Troy to 10 wins and a cup of coffee in the Top 25 last year. The Broncos baffled Silvers, a 245 yards-per-game and 64 percent passer last season. Saturday he completed only 51 percent of his throws, covering 139 yards, just 4.2 yards per attempt. It was a great confidence-builder going into a rugged test at Wazzu this week.
Can defense and special teams save the day in Pullman if the Boise State offense is struggling again? At any rate, the Broncos have found some mustard for special teams. The big picture for Avery Williams beyond his 81-yard punt return for a touchdown: he had 124 yards on punt returns for the day, just 35 short of Boise State’s team total in 13 games last season. Williams’ yardage was the sixth-most in game in school history (the 81-yard return was the fifth-longest). Boise State’s average per return last year covered just 6.6 yards; Williams had 24.8 yards per runback Saturday. Oh, and there's one more touchdown than there was in 2016. Williams was the obvious choice yesterday for Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week.
Before we let Saturday’s win over Troy slip into the archives, I’ve gotta give props to the crowd. A late walk-up got the announced attendance up to 31,581, and midway through the first quarter when everyone was in, the stands looked good. Boise State fans have been criticized in the past for exiting at halftime, but this time the exodus was understandable. The east-side stands were baking, and it was exacerbated by the sun reflecting off aluminum seats on what was officially a 97-degree day. There were a few not-so-pretty heat sickness issues. So I ask: would you rather go through a day like Saturday, or one like the legendary 9-degree game against San Diego State in 2014?
It was not a banner weekend for the Mountain West. Boise State’s win over Troy was the best one posted by the conference, as teams went 0-4 versus the Power 5. Most notable was Wyoming’s 24-3 loss at Iowa, a game in which Josh Allen, who is being called a “draft darling” now, was very ordinary, throwing for 174 yards with two interceptions. A week after laying 58 points on Oregon State, Colorado State managed a field goal in a 17-3 loss to Colorado. But you’re hearing a lot of “we wuz robbed” from the Rams camp after a slew of questionable calls (coach Mike Bobo has submitted a reel of them to the Pac-12). The bottom of the barrel was UNLV, the victim of the biggest point-spread upset in college football history. Howard was a 45-point underdog at Sam Boyd Stadium—and won 43-40.
While Boise State was treading water in the first quarter against Troy Saturday, word arrived that things weren’t going well in the NFL. First the news of Jeremy McNichols’ cut by Tampa Bay spread through the crowd. Then came the mild surprise: Dallas releasing Kellen Moore. The latter appears to be temprorary, though, as Cowboys president Stephen Jones told a Dallas radio station yesterday, "I think we'll see Kellen back with us as we move forward." The Cowboys did indeed open a spot on their 53-man roster by placing tight end Rico Gathers on injured reserve. Social media has been brutal on Moore, but—if nothing else—Dallas needs him in the quarterback room to mentor Cooper Rush.
It was a very precarious time for McNichols, but the stars aligned yesterday as he was picked up by San Francisco and placed on the 49ers’ practice squad. It’s a job, and the fifth-round draft pick has to feel fortunate to have one after what happened to him at Tampa Bay. We had expected the Buccaneers would have a second former Bronco in the fold this season in addition to Doug Martin. Turns out that instead of McNichols it’ll be Jonathan Moxey, who had a solid training camp as an undrafted free agent and will stick on the Bucs’ practice squad. And even New Yorkers were rooting for Donte Deayon to make the Giants’ 53-man roster. Deayon didn’t, but he’s back on the practice squad in New York.
A disastrous Saturday sank Graham DeLaet at the Dell Technologies Championship. The former Boise State star, bothered by his bad back, ballooned to a nine-over 80 in the third round at TPC Boston. DeLaet toughed out a 70 in the final round but finished in a tie for 75th, falling two spots to 76th in the FedExCup standings. Only the top 70 advance to the third round of the playoffs, so his 2016-17 PGA Tour season is over.
More Labor Day weekend wrap—the Boise Hawks took two out of three games in their final homestand against Hillsboro, but they fell one game short of the Northwest League Playoffs, and one game short of avoiding a third straight losing season. The Boise State women’s soccer team had its own Fiesta Bowl moment Sunday. The Broncos upset Oklahoma 1-0, with the dagger goal coming in the 61st minute from Raimee Sherle, the sophomore from Rocky Mountain High. And in their first-ever matchup with an FCS program, the College of Idaho Coyotes fell 41-14 at Northern Colorado. The upside: Yotes defensive back Nate Moore has been named Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Week after making 13 tackles, his seventh straight game with double-digit stops.
This Day In Sports…September 5, 2012, five years ago today:
Andy Roddick, who started his pro career in 2000 as a 17-year-old member of the Idaho Sneakers, Boise’s World Team Tennis franchise, finishes his career with a fourth round loss to Juan Martin del Potro at the U.S. Open. Roddick won 32 ATP titles but only one major, the U.S. Open in 2003. He was the top American player for the rest of the decade but was always overshadowed by Roger Federer, to whom he lost in four other grand slam finals. The U.S. has been devoid of stars on the men’s side since Roddick’s retirement.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)