BOISE, Idaho — Friday, January 14, 2022.
My mind keeps drifting back to Boise State’s game against Cal State Bakersfield the night after Thanksgiving. The team we saw handle Nevada Wednesday night in Reno bore no resemblance to the one that scored 39 points in the loss to the Roadrunners. Never had a Broncos squad scored fewer points than that in the building originally known as the BSU Pavilion. The leading scorer for Boise State that night was Devonaire Doutrive, which should tell you whether or not the offense was in sync. Less than a week later, Doutrive was gone, and the Broncos haven’t lost since. Not to put it all on Doutrive, but chemistry and culture are a thing, and coach Leon Rice’s move seems to have repaired it. Next up for the Broncos on the state-of-flux Mountain West schedule is New Mexico Saturday afternoon on FS1.
LOBOS LONGING FOR DAYS OF OLD
This isn’t your mama’s New Mexico team. Consequently, it’s not your mama’s Pit that Boise State will play in on Saturday. The legendary arena doesn’t fill to the gills anymore, and the needle has dropped on the decibel meter. The Lobos are trying to get their footing under new coach Richard Pitino, who was fired last spring after eight seasons at Minnesota. (The man doing the firing, ironically, was former Boise State athletic director Mark Coyle.) UNM is currently 7-9 and is in last place in the Mountain West with an 0-3 record. The Broncos have an eight-game winning streak.
AN OBSCURE STAT LOOK-BACK
Now that college football is done, all 2021 NCAA statistics are final. The crown jewel for Boise State this past season is scoring defense, as the Broncos finished 12th in the country by giving up an average of just 19.0 points per game. But there’s another stat worth highlighting, a little-known one called “defense stop rate,” tracked by The Athletic. Max Olson explains, “What is stop rate? It’s a basic measurement of success: the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs. This simple metric can offer a more accurate reflection of a defense’s effectiveness in today’s faster-tempo game than yards per game or even points per game.” So here you go. Boise State was 16th out of 130 FBS teams nationally in stop rate, getting out of drives 72.7 percent of the time. That’s good.
OBICHERE’S UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Divine Obichere may not look at it this way, but there are still mountains to climb for the 6-3, 306-pound defensive tackle. Obichere has revealed on Twitter that he will be back with Boise State in 2022, indicating that the team has invited him to return for a super-senior season. Obichere is occasionally a force—key word being “occasionally.” In two seasons since transferring from Long Beach City College, he has 34 tackles and three sacks. A healthy Obichere is certainly capable of posting numbers like that, or better, in one season alone. There’s a lot of talent alongside him. Still to be determined is who all will be next to him. Nose tackle Scale Igiehon’s leave of absence after Game 1 was never explained, but he is still on the Broncos roster.
AKSIANTSIUK’S CROSS-COUNTRY TREK
There were two positive pieces of news this week for the Idaho Steelheads going into this weekend’s three-game series at Utah. One is that star rookie forward Yauheni Aksiantsiuk was reassigned to the Steelheads from the AHL’s Texas Stars. The other is that Aksiantsiuk was named to the 2022 ECHL All-Star Classic in Jacksonville as Idaho’s lone representative in the annual event.At the age of 20, he’ll be the youngest player to participate in the All-Star event in the team’s history. The only drawback: Aksiantsiuk will miss part of the Utah series, as the All-Star Classic will be held Sunday and Monday. In 17 games with the Steelies this season, the Belarus native owns nine goals and seven assists for 16 points. He was named ECHL Rookie of the Month in October and has already earned two AHL call-ups this season.
YOTES JUST WANT TO HOOP
The College of Idaho men’s basketball team appreciates any game it can get in these days. Because when the Coyotes do play, it pays dividends. After a 90-72 win over Multnomah last Friday, the Yotes’ only game of the weekend, they moved up to No. 13 in the new NAIA Coaches Poll. C of I is poised to get just one of its two games played again this weekend, as Evergreen State had to cancel tonight due to COVID. The Yotes will be in Kirkland, WA, on Saturday for a matchup against Northwest University.
SCOTT SLANT SHIFT
I’ve been writing this column for 21 years, and it has been one of the great joys of my life. As you can imagine, it is quite time-consuming, and it has come time to dial it back. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the feedback I get in the community. It keeps me going. But alas, I need to cut myself some slack, starting with the old “spend more time with my family” cliché. The sports community is in such good hands these days, and the coverage is so good throughout the market—beginning with my colleagues Jay Tust and Will Hall at KTVB. That makes it easier for me to downshift.
Beginning the week of January 17, the Scott Slant column will become a weekly, more specifically a “Wednesday Weekly.” On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I’ll still contribute a This Day In Sports item. We’ll see how that evolves. Moving forward, I’m thinking history will be a niche for me. Please know how much it means to me to have your eyeballs here. Thank you.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…January 14, 2017, five years ago today:
The Connecticut women’s basketball team breaks its own amazing record, winning its 91st consecutive game with an 88-48 rout of SMU in Dallas. UConn, winner of the four previous national championships and a record 11 overall under coach Gino Auriemma, had won 90 straight from 2008-10. Only a two-point overtime loss to Stanford in November of 2014 kept the streak from being 139 games at that point. The run reached 126 games before ending in January of 2019.
(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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