BOISE, Idaho — Many thought this would happen: Eric Kiesau is Boise State’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after serving as the Broncos’ wide receivers coach the past three seasons (he had the title of co-offensive coordinator in 2019). The QB part will be under the microscope, as the hope is that Hank Bachmeier will take the next step this year as a sophomore. Well, Kiesau was a quarterback as a player at Portland State—and he has coached QBs at Washington, Fresno State and Colorado, and assisted with quarterbacks at Alabama while serving as an analyst for the Crimson Tide in 2015, when the team won the national championship. Kiesau helped install the no-huddle into the Tide’s offense. Now, will the rumors that Matt Miller is headed back to Boise State as WRs coach come true?
What was Kiesau’s job at Boise State the past three years? Not only developing wide receivers, but helping recruit them in the first place. He’s done pretty well on both counts. In Kiesau’s debut campaign, Cedrick Wilson set the school record for single-season receiving yards with 1,511 before going in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Kiesau had Sean Modster and A.J. Richardson peaking as seniors in 2018, and they both made NFL practice squads. This season the stars were John Hightower and Khalil Shakir. Hightower plays in the East-West Shrine Bowl Saturday, and if there’s any Bronco that could enter the draft early after the 2020 season, it’s Shakir. Kiesau has established a deep and talented position, and now he spreads his wings.
GOOD TIMING FOR A QB COMMIT
National Letter of Intent Day is now less than three weeks away, and Boise State is still looking for two offensive coaches. But the Broncos do have their O-coordinator—and, maybe not coincidentally, a quarterback for the 2020 recruiting class. On the same day as Kiesau was promoted, Cade Fennegan announced on Twitter that he has committed to Boise State. Fennegan is currently on an LDS mission in Argentina, which makes his timeline timely. Fennegan, a 6-2, 162-pounder from Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas, will join the team this summer and is almost certain to redshirt. That means his first active season would be in 2021, when Hank Bachmeier is a junior. Fennegan decommitted from North Texas, where he was recruited by Graham Harrell (now the offensive coordinator at USC).
BRONCOS ROSTER CHURN
It’s that time of the year: roster tweaks at college football programs near and far. Boise State defensive end Kukea Emmsley has entered transfer portal, which is really a thing now. In Emmsley’s case, it’s understandable. The 6-3, 253-pounder from Kapolei, HI, appeared in just one game in each of the past two seasons. Also, linebacker Philip Mills is no longer on the Broncos roster. B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press tweeted that it’s not disciplinary. Mills was seen as a guy with high upside, but he played in only two games this season. A few walk-ons are departing, including running back Allamar Alexander out of Columbia High. Allamar is transferring to College of Idaho.
RICE GETS RUN, AND SO DO THE BRONCOS
Boise State was favored by all of one point at Air Force Wednesday night. That was too much. The Broncos’ only lead of the game came in the first minute on a Derek Alston three-pointer, with the Falcons going on to an 85-78 win in Colorado Springs. The game took a bizarre turn with 19 seconds left in the first half when Boise State coach Leon Rice was whistled for two technical fouls and was ejected from the game for the first time in his career. Is that uncharacteristic or what? At that point, the foul count was Broncos 11, Falcons 2. Air Force canned four straight free throws to stretch a four-point lead to eight. Boise State got it back down to two points twice, but a 13-4 run by the Falcons midway through the second half created too much separation.
On defense, was a “pick your poison” night for Boise State. Air Force came into the game second in the Mountain West in field goal percentage and first in both free throw percentage and three-point percentage. The Falcons are especially good shooters at home. They cooled as the game progressed from three-point land, but they followed through otherwise with a 50 percent night from the field and 87 percent from the charity stripe. At the other end, Air Force went by the book against Justinian Jessup, blanketing him around the arc. Jessup didn’t score until 2½ minutes into the second half. He ended with 11 points but was just 1-for-7 from three-point range.
BRONCO WOMEN FEND OFF LATE CHARGE
Riley Lupfer found her shot again, and Jayde Christopher did the dishes as the Boise State women downed Air Force 70-61 Wednesday night in ExtraMile Arena. Lupfer drained four three-pointers, and Christopher handed out 13 assists, while Mallory McGwire was posting another double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The game looked like a blowout when the Broncos opened a 19-point lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter. But the Falcons busted off a 26-8 run and closed to within 62-61 with two minutes left. Boise State then closed it with a Braydey Hodgins layin and six consecutive free throws.
SHOLL-LESS STEELIES FALL AT HOME
The Idaho Steelheads were without starting goaltender Tomas Sholl Wednesday night in their 4-1 loss to Tulsa in CenturyLink Arena. It’s been a long time coming, but Sholl finally earned his first AHL callup to the Texas Stars. Sholl has a 17-5-4 record with a 2.26 goals-against average this season and leads the ECHL in wins. He’s picked up three different ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors as well as the league’s Goaltender of the Month award for October. Sholl has notched 52 career wins with the Steelies and 10 shutouts. Meanwhile, newly-signed Jake Kupsky made his first ECHL appearance against the Oilers, allowing three goals while making 30 saves.
MERRITT IN THE DESERT
Troy Merritt is back on the Mainland for The American Express, a pro-am tournament fondly remembered as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. The former Boise State star will try to get 2020 on track after missing the cut last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Merritt will have three chances to do it at PGA West in La Quinta, CA. In its Bob Hope days, this event was traditionally 90 holes. It was reduced to 72 in 2012, but the cut still doesn’t come until the 54-hole mark.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…January 16, 2015, five years ago today:
The late Joe Paterno is once again the winningest coach in major college football history, as the NCAA restores 112 Penn State victories that had been wiped out during the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. The NCAA had eliminated all wins from 1998—when police first investigated a mother's complaint against Sandusky—through 2011, Paterno's final season as coach after six decades with the team, and the year Sandusky was charged. Paterno passed away in January, 2012.
(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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