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Scott Slant: The Broncos’ Quads started to hurt

There are no nights off in the Mountain West. Boise State kind of took the first half off Tuesday in ExtraMile Arena, and Fresno State scared the Broncos straight.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday Weekly: January 25, 2023.

All this talk about Quad 1 and Quad 2. The Fresno State game was Quad 4 Tuesday night. Instead of worrying about Quads, Boise State just needs to concentrate on the Mountain West. Fortunately for the Broncos, they cleaned things up in the second half Tuesday night and beat the Bulldogs 63-53. The big news was that Boise State committed only four turnovers after the break, because there were a staggering 15 of them in the first half. The Broncos were coughing up one per minute the first seven minutes of the game and almost maintained that unsightly pace into halftime. Fresno State helped Boise State steady the ship, shooting an abysmal 2-for-25 from three-point range and 7-for-14 from the charity stripe (the Bulldogs were 2-for-9 at one point). Winning ugly.


How about this offensive flow from Boise State Tuesday night? The Broncos started the game 0-for-4 from the field and fell behind Fresno State 7-0 in the first 4½ minutes, confounding the crowd in ExtraMile Arena. They only had four shots because they also had four turnovers. The frustration continued, as 11½ minutes in Boise State had all of six points. The Broncos started to get it together at that point, but next thing you know, five more turnovers in less than three minutes at the end of the half left them behind 25-23 at the break. A 40-point second half was the tonic in Boise State’s 16th win of the season against five losses. The Broncos remain just one game behind San Diego State, pending the Aztecs’ game at Utah State tonight.


Marcus Shaver Jr. has slumping as a shooter, but certainly not as a player. This is as banged-up as Shaver has been in his college career — be it at Boise State or at Portland. But he forges ahead, doing the little things that help Boise State win. Shaver played 39 minutes against Fresno State. He was just 4-for-12 from the field and didn’t hit from three, but he scored 16 points, his most in the new year. Shaver was as aggressive as he’s been in weeks, and he also pulled down six rebounds and dished out four assists.

Tyson Degenhart is in a groove. After his career-high 28 points at New Mexico last Friday (including the three-pointer that sent the game to overtime and the three-point play that had a win within the Broncos’ grasp), he put up 13 against the Bulldogs. Degenhart pulled Boise State out of the doldrums in the second half with a nine-point stretch midway through that essentially put the game away. He’s averaging 16.8 points over the last seven games. Those season-high 19 turnovers the Broncos had Tuesday night? Degenhart had just one of them — and that’s the only one he’s had in his past 201 minutes of floor time.


There were potential holes all over Boise State’s two-deep coming out of the 2022 season, especially on defense. Many of those have been remedied by super-seniors and the transfer portal. Now, it’s the coaching staff that’ll be under the microscope after last Friday’s departure of running backs coach Keith Bhonopha to Oregon State. There’ll be someone new in that spot, joining offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan, EDGE coach Jabril Frazier and defensive line coach Eric Chinander. Bhonopha is a tough loss, but there’ll be a lot of high-quality candidates who would love to take over a running backs room that includes George Holani, Ashton Jeanty and Breezy Dubar. As for Bhonopha, it’s the Pac-12, it’s more money, it’s a reunion with a friend, Jonathan Smith, and it’s a possible path to becoming an O-coordinator.


Boise State wide receiver Davis Koetter has long professed a passion for coaching. After all, he’s been around it all his life — since he was born in Boise while his dad, Dirk, was the Broncos head coach. With his eligibility finally exhausted, Davis reportedly has his first job, and it’s a good one. He’s going to be an offensive graduate assistant at Texas under Steve Sarkisian. Koetter will be greeted by friendly faces in Austin, as former Boise State defensive coordinator and star player Pete Kwiatkowski is the Longhorns D.C., and former Broncos assistant Jeff Choate is Texas inside linebackers coach and co-D.C. In two seasons at Boise State after transferring from Portland State, Koetter had 28 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns.


Respected draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic has unveiled his 2023 NFL Draft rankings, running down the top 15 players at each position. Brugler has Boise State’s JL Skinner at No. 6 on his list of safeties. That would probably make him a second-day pick (second or third round). Skinner is preparing to head for the Senior Bowl next week in Mobile, AL. And unless he makes a huge splash there, or at the NFL Combine, that may be where Skinner sticks. “With the college football season complete, most of the hay is in the barn at this point of the draft process,” writes Brugler.


Kellen Moore doesn’t look like he’s 12 years old anymore. But he still looks like he’s 19, despite a season that would have brought out gray hair on any other NFL coach. And the young, innocent look (despite his steely inner makeup) seems to be one reason Dallas fans won’t cut the Cowboys offensive coordinator any slack. Moore is taking a viral beating for the last play of the Dallas-San Francisco game — the one that saw Ezekiel Elliot hike the ball to Dak Prescott with the other nine Cowboys out in the hinterlands. Whose idea was that? What if it had worked? It didn’t, though, so that’s what Kellen has to live with. The Boise State great interviewed Tuesday for the Carolina Panthers head coaching job. The Panthers brass knows what Moore brings to the table. For Carolina fans, though, perception is reality.


Losses by Buffalo and Dallas last weekend wiped out the last of Boise State’s player representatives in the NFL Playoffs (Khalil Shakir, DeMarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch). The only Idaho tie remaining is former Vandals linebacker Christian Elliss of the Philadelphia Eagles. Elliss had no stats in Philly’s 38-7 rout of the New York Giants last Sunday, but he did play. He’s in position to become the first Vandal in seven years to play in a Super Bowl (since Shiloh Keo earned a ring with Denver following the 2015 season). Elliss played two games in the regular season in early December for the Eagles and logged 11 tackles, nine of them solo.


You’ve probably heard that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, the rookie phenom from Iowa State, has a Boise tie or two. He made an official recruiting visit to Boise State in 2018 and came away with a photo taken alongside then-Broncos Avery Williams, Alexander Mattison and Brett Rypien. All four of those guys, of course, are in the NFL. Purdy’s parents accompanied him, and his dad had some familiarity with the city. Shawn Purdy began his pro baseball career in Boise and was a starting pitcher for the Hawks in 1991, the first year they won the Northwest League championship. Purdy went 8-4 with a 3.01 ERA that season. He made one start for the Hawks in 1993 and won that one, but he never made the majors.


The Idaho Steelheads go after their 30th victory of the season tonight when they open a three-game series against the Wichita Thunder in Idaho Central Arena. The Steelheads have lost two of their last three games, but they still have a 10-point lead over Wichita in the ECHL’s Mountain Division. Sandwiched in between last week’s losses was a 7-1 road rout of Rapid City last Friday. The Steelies got a four-point game (two goals, two assists) from Wade Murphy and short-handed goals from A.J. White and Willie Knierim — only the third time in franchise history they’ve posted multiple short-handed goals in a game. Even though they’ve come back down to earth a bit, the Steelheads can still be dominant.


Last week’s trip to Oregon was good for the College of Idaho. The Coyotes came away with two victories and extended their winning streak to 18 games, but they had to earn it, and that will pay dividends when the challenges of the NAIA Tournament roll around. After getting by Oregon Tech 87-75 last Friday, the Yotes had to rally past Southern Oregon 60-54 the next night in a game they trailed for more than 27 minutes. C of I, which remains No. 1 in the NAIA Coaches Poll, returns to the J.A. Albertson Activities Center to host Lewis-Clark State Friday night.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…January 25, 1998, 25 years ago today:

The Denver Broncos finally win a Super Bowl, beating the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, in San Diego. The Broncos had lost four Super Bowls previously. Three of them were with John Elway, the veteran quarterback who at last got the monkey off his back almost 15 years after coming out of Stanford as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Denver would win the Super Bowl again the following year, beating the Atlanta Falcons in the final game of Elway’s career.

 (Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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