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Boise State football: What do we really know?

It’s been six days since Boise State and BYU were meeting on the blue turf, with unpleasant results for the home team. Now the Broncos defense looks for vindication.
Credit: Steve Conner/AP Photo
BYU’s Tyler Allgeier runs upfield as Boise State’s Riley Whimpey closes in during an NCAA game Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Boise, Idaho. BYU won 51-17.

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Will the real Boise State defense please stand up? There’s been a keen focus on the D this week, and why not? The Broncos are in uncharted territory after three games: last in the Mountain West in rushing defense at 246 yards per game and sixth in total defense, allowing an average of 420 yards per game. Those are numbers you just don’t see at Boise State. It’s also giving up 31.3 points per game. I’m going to say the jury is still out, though. The Broncos have faced one of the top rushing teams in the country in Air Force, and one of the nation’s best passers in Zach Wilson. The Colorado State offense should provide a fair barometer tonight on the blue turf.

DO THE BRONCOS HAVE THE FIREPOWER?

How many points Boise State scores tonight is directly related to who is calling the signals—and who that person is handing off to. It might be too early to expect Jack Sears back if he did indeed suffer a concussion last week. But most onlookers have a good feeling about Hank Bachmeier taking the field against CSU. If that’s the case, the playbook opens up immensely. Most onlookers have a bad feeling about George Holani, though. That would leave the running game in the hands of Andrew Van Buren. BYU’s large, stout and physical defense did a number on Van Buren last Friday. Can he find more room to run against the Rams?

RELATED: Game Day Guide: Colorado State Rams vs. Boise State Broncos

ANOTHER HUNGRY FOE

BYU had never beaten Boise State on the blue turf until last Saturday. Colorado State has never beaten the Broncos anywhere. The Rams are 0-9 in a series that began when Boise State joined the Mountain West in 2011. CSU looked a little disjointed in August with controversy swirling around new coach Steve Addazio. University president Joyce McConnell ordered an investigation into allegations that the athletic department, and the football program in particular, tried to hide the extent of COVID spread within the department. Three months later, the Rams are riding high after thumping their rival, Wyoming, 34-24 last Thursday. A win like that does wonders. Colorado State feels like it can finally get over the hump tonight.

THE FIRST TIME WE HEARD ‘NO CONTEST’

The term “no contest” is commonplace in 2020, but it was a shocking designation the day after Christmas in 2018. Coach Bryan Harsin and coach Steve Addazio were supposed to meet in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas, back when Addazio was leading Boston College. That’s the day a thunderstorm rolled into the Cotton Bowl, and lightning forced the bowl to be canceled. No contest. BC led 7-0 in the first quarter when the plug was pulled while Boise State appeared to be finding its rhythm in what was supposed the final game for Brett Rypien and 15 other Boise State seniors. Here’s hoping the rest of this season is played.

RELATED: Boise State football: The trials of 2019

WIDE RECEIVER SUPERLATIVES

We’d like to thank the “other BSU” for this tidbit. The sports information office at Ball State reveals that Boise State’s CT Thomas is third in the nation in games with consecutive catches. Thomas made three grabs for 31 yards against BYU to extend his streak to 33 consecutive games. His Bronco running mate at wide receiver, Khalil Shakir, is off to a trememdous start in his junior year. Shakir has 23 catches for 352 yards and four touchdowns in three games and is coming off a career-high 10 grabs for 139 yards (and two TDs) versus BYU. KTVB’s Jay Tust points out that only Shane Williams-Rhodes, with 24 in 2014, has had more receptions over the first three games of the season at Boise State in the past 20 years. And only Thomas Sperbeck, with 367 in 2016, has had more receiving yards.

NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS

Derrick Alston Jr. was lightly-recruited out of Strake Jesuit High School in Houston. Alston ended up walking on at Boise State in the summer of 2016. He played about as much as you’d expect a redshirt freshman walk-on to play the following year, scoring a grand total of seven points in 26 minutes over 11 games. Now, Alston is the Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year in the media poll released Wednesday. Alston joins Chandler Hutchison three years ago as the only Broncos to earn Preseason Player of the Year honors since Boise State joined the Mountain West.

RELATED: Boise State football: In many ways, the wheels fell off

Also in the poll, Boise State, with what is considered to be the most talented roster in school history, was picked to finished second in the conference this season behind San Diego State. The Aztecs lose Malachi Flynn but their top eight returning players, including star wing Matt Mitchell, are all juniors or seniors. SDSU received 14 first-place votes, the Broncos four, and defending champion Utah State two.

STOCKING UP

Two highly-regarded Boise State basketball commits made it official yesterday, as Tyson Degenhart and RJ Keene signed their National Letters of Intent. Degenhart, a 6-7 forward from Spokane, was the Spokesman-Review’s All-Region Player of the Year last season after averaging 24.5 points per game. He’s the No. 4 recruit in the state of Washington according to Washngton Prep Hoops. Keene is a 6-7 guard from The Woodlands, TX, who coach Leon Rice compares to Justinian Jessup. He hit 135 three-pointers last season, 10th-most in the nation according to MaxPreps. ESPN rates Keene as a four-star recruit and the nation’s No. 33 shooting guard.

RELATED: Boise State football: The Zach Wilson thing

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…November 12, 2010, 10 years ago today: 

In Boise State’s final trip to the Kibbie Dome, the Broncos burst out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and rout Idaho, 52-14, for a school-record 23rd consecutive victory. Chris Potter began the fireworks with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in the opening minute, and kicker Kyle Brotzman contributed 10 points on the night to become the WAC’s career scoring leader. It was BSU’s 12th straight victory over the Vandals, matching Idaho’s streak in the series from 1982-93. The game was on ESPN2, the first time a national telecast has ever originated from the Dome.

(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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