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Boise State football: A salute to Southorn’s finale

If anything magnified the value of having Dave Southorn write about Boise State football at The Athletic, his final column last Thursday did.
Credit: Steve Conner AP Images
Boise State quarterback Chase Cord escapes the Wyoming pass rush during an NCAA game Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 20-17 in overtime.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

If you’re a Boise State fan, and you weren’t already a subscriber to The Athletic, you’re probably not going to become one now. Boise State has lost its voice at the national sports journalism website with the layoff of the accomplished Dave Southorn. So here’s a sliver of what you missed from Southorn’s final piece, “The State of the Program,” probably the most comprehensive in the time he’s been with The Athletic. One key takeaway from Southorn’s team analysis: “(Offensive coordinator Eric) Kiesau said (Chase) Cord will be a key part of the offense and will see the field, but the OC also said his goal has been to keep Cord motivated as the presumed backup. Cord and (Jack) Sears at worst provide some dependable depth and at best may find multiple ways onto the field.”

Southorn on the running backs: “(George) Holani took over as the Broncos’ primary back midway through the season, but he had more than 20 carries in only one game. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound sophomore has added about 15 pounds since he arrived on campus and fully intends to shoulder the load in 2020.” On the tight ends: “John Bates has NFL size (6-6, 256 pounds), but he must be more of a physical presence. He did not have a red zone catch among the 22 he recorded last season.” On the much-scrutinized offensive line: “Redshirt senior Donte Harrington, set to be full-go this summer after tearing his ACL last year, will factor in at guard or center. He started four games as a sophomore and is one of the team’s smarter players.”

Southorn on the defensive line: “Scale Igiehon has started only five career games but has 61 career stops and 6.5 tackles for loss. Coaches said he was the team’s best defensive player in the Las Vegas Bowl.” On the linebackers: (They) will need to make more plays—they combined for two forced fumbles and one interception all season—and counteract the inexperienced line in front of them.” Despite losing both Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce at safety, that position is in good shape. Southorn on the safeties: “Sophomore JL Skinner has rare size (6-4, 220 pounds) and can be utilized around the field, moving out of the safety spot into the box as a nickel or even rushing the passer as a STUD end.”

Southorn on the schedule: “If the Broncos get out of September unscathed against teams that won 32 games combined last year, they’ll be in good shape for a New Year’s Six run. BYU will be tough as always, but Boise State is 5-0 all-time against the Cougars on the blue turf. The biggest landmine in conference play looks like a cold late November game in Laramie against a good Wyoming team. Even though the Broncos have not played in a New Year’s Six Bowl since the 2014 season, they always are in the mix come December. As the clear Mountain West favorite, expect that once again.” Southorn points out that it’s a target the Broncos embrace. Once a forbidden subject, Harsin acknowledges that they put it on the team’s goal pyramid back in 2009, midway through the Chris Petersen era. Best wishes to Dave Southorn.

THAT’S WHY TESTING IS ESSENTIAL

Among the first wave of Boise State athletes returning to campus last week, the university says there were “multiple positives” in testing for COVID-19. “Those individuals will follow the advice of healthcare providers before returning to campus and joining their teams for voluntary workouts,” the athletic department told KTIK. Considering these players are coming in from all over the country—and beyond—this shouldn’t be surprising. “Student-athletes will continue to undergo daily health screenings,” the university said over the weekend. The second wave of players arrives this week (“wave” may not be the word we’re looking for here).

THE FIRST PRP IS TBD

Now that there’s some clarity on Boise State’s plans to allow athletes to resume voluntary workouts, it appears that player-run practices have been saved. PRPs, as they’re known, are a crucial part of the Broncos’ culture (kind of the core of their trademark chemistry). They’ll be phased in once the entire team is back in Boise and has been doing lifting and conditioning. Team medical officials will have to be convinced that protocols are in place for that next step, and that guidelines allow for the large group sizes needed to accommodate PRPs.

YOUR FAVORITE FANTASTIC FINISH – AGAIN 

The pandemic sports shutdown has allowed writers and broadcasters to branch out and reminisce. Last Thursday, ESPN.com contributed “Kordell Stewart, Doug Flutie, epic Hail Marys and our wildest college football finishes.” After chronicling the classic Hail Marys, the story asked, “What's the best non-Hail Mary finish you can recall?” You know what’s coming. This from Mark Schlabach: “The entire ending of Boise State's 43-42 win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl is still one I'll never forget. Of course, I didn't see it happen in real time because I fell asleep on the couch. It was still as much fun watching the replay the next day. The hook-and-ladder and Statue of Liberty play for the winning 2-point conversion were so memorable.” That game is the gift that keeps on giving.

COULD VARIETY STILL SPICE THE YOTES’ SCHEDULE?

Now that the NAIA has reduced the upcoming football season to a maximum of nine games, College of Idaho waits to see what it’s going to look like. Schedules won’t begin until September 12, so the Yotes’ September 5 opener at Rocky Mountain is wiped out. But there’s a chance that game could still end up on a reconfigured Frontier Conference slate. Another idea reportedly on the table: eliminating the home-and-home conference matchups and perhaps freeing up a couple dates for non-conference games. The athletic directors will now discuss.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…June 9, 2015, five years ago today:

The San Francisco Giants become the first major league team in 50 years to produce no-hitters in four straight seasons when rookie Chris Heston blanks the New York Mets, 5-0. The streak started with Matt Cain’s perfect game in 2012 and was followed by no-no’s from Tim Lincecum each of the following two seasons. The Los Angeles Dodgers had last accomplished the feat from 1962-65, with each of the no-hitters thrown by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. Heston was also the first pitcher to end a no-hitter by striking out the side since Koufax in 1965.

(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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