BOISE, Idaho — Friday, May 22, 2020.
It’s Friday, and my weekly early-bird celebration of Albertsons Stadium’s 50th anniversary takes us to a landmark game in September, 2004. Boise State took another major step with its first victory over a Pac-12 (then Pac-10) school as it drilled Oregon State 53-34 on the blue turf. By consensus, it was the biggest win to that point in school history, although there were so many milestones still to come. Before a national audience on ESPN, the Broncos recovered from a 14-0 first quarter deficit and did not look back. Korey Hall had three interceptions, one of them returned for a game-turning touchdown before a raucous sellout crowd. The victory propelled Boise State into both polls at No. 23, and at the end of the regular season, the Broncos would be undefeated and on their way to the Liberty Bowl.
HARSIN SHIFTS ON THE FLY
There wasn’t a lot of news from Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, but at least he did hold a Zoom meeting on Thursday. What we do know is that the NCAA’s moratorium on player workouts ends June 1. “It’s been 78 days since we’ve practiced, and it’s 107 days until we play,” said Harsin. Coaches have planned and re-planned, and now they’re close to one to implement when players reconvene. “I’m glad we got the date,” Harsin added. But it’s not like 100 guys are going to show up at the Bleymaier Football Complex a week from Monday. It’s going to be gradual.
On Jack Sears, the grad transfer quarterback from USC who joined the program this week, Harsin said, “We’re always recruiting. We’re always going to bring guys in. We’re always going to have numbers at positions.” Quarterback is one position that needed it. “Kaiden Bennett is no longer with us. Riley Smith moves to right end. Jaylon Henderson graduates. So we knew we had to go get some depth.”
QUESTIONS FOR KELLEN AND HIS NEW BOSS
Kellen Moore may be trying to run his Dallas offense virtually right now, but that hasn’t slowed the ink it receives (or whatever you call it in the online world). Jori Epstein of USA Today has “Five looming questions for Mike McCarthy in Year 1 with Cowboys.” One of them: “Can Dallas step up in big games?” That’s probably Moore’s biggest task. Writes Epstein, “The team flopped at New Orleans, New England and Philadelphia in 2019, unable to score more than 10 points despite averaging 27.1 through the season. Eight times they trailed at halftime—and all eight times they lost.”
Another question addresses the impact of first-round draft pick CeeDee Lamb. “The Cowboys added Lamb to a receiver room that already featured a pair of 1,000-yard pass-catchers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup,” notes Epstein. “McCarthy said his staff is thrilled at the surplus of playmakers. ‘Kellen Moore has had a lot of fun…on a few new wrinkles we’re looking to work,’ McCarthy said.” Kellen loves wrinkles.
And, of course, “Will Dak Prescott take the next step in 2020?” The job Moore did with him as a first-year offensive coordinator last year was impressive. “In 2019, Prescott delivered his best statistical season yet: 65.1 percent completion rate, 4,902 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions,” Epstein writes. “The numbers reflect a Cowboys offense favoring the passing game more than it had in Prescott’s first three years, in part because Dallas trailed often. Even so, the throws and chemistry Prescott showcased should give Moore and McCarthy confidence to use him creatively in the passing game.” Kellen loves chemistry, too.
THE PACK’S BIGGEST WOLF ISN’T COMING BACK
Jalen Harris has made his decision, and it doesn’t favor Nevada. The Wolf Pack will lose its best men’s basketballplayer going into the 2020-21 season, as Harris is going to remain in the NBA Draft and forego his senior season in Reno. He’s on the draft bubble, according to experts.
The 6-5 guard averaged 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season and was every bit as dominant in Mountain West play as conference Player of the Year Malachi Flynn of San Diego State. Harris played his first two seasons at Louisiana Tech before transferring to Nevada. Boise State’s Derrick Alston, who also declared early for the draft, hasn’t made his decision yet.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 22, 2017:
The Golden State Warriors become the first team in NBA history to begin the playoffs with 12 straight wins as they sweep away the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals with a 129-115 victory. The stars came out for the Warriors, as Stephen Curry poured in 26 points and Kevin Durant put up 29. It was the final game in the career of Spurs star Manu Ginobili, who scored 15 points in 32 minutes. Golden State was on a collision course with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
(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.)
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