BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday Weekly: August 3, 2022.
Stefan Cobbs is poised to be Boise State’s feature receiver this year. But that doesn’t mean he has to be another Khalil Shakir. Or John Hightower. Or Cedrick Wilson. Or Thomas Sperbeck. Or Matt Miller. You get the idea. This could be the season that the Broncos employ a committee at wide receiver again. And considering the depth at the position, there’s nothing wrong with that. In addition to Cobbs, there’s experience with Davis Koetter and Billy Bowens, and extreme upside with Austin Bolt and Latrell Caples, among others. The committee approach worked in 2006 (perhaps you remember that season). Jerard Rabb had 37 catches, Drisan James 36 and Legedu Naanee 35. And Naanee ended up as an NFL Draft pick. We’ll just call Cobbs the committee chair after his 34 catches and five touchdowns last season.
HANK BACHMEIER IS ALREADY A SENIOR
Yes, Boise State fall camp starts today — the first day of the rest of Hank Bachmeier’s career in the blue-and-orange. All signs point to Bachmeier finally reaching his considerable potential as a senior. This is the first time he’s had the same offensive coordinator two years in a row. Bachmeier and Tim Plough have learned a lot about each other, and Plough has learned a lot about what it takes to fit his offense into the personnel he has. The Broncos also appear to have as good an offensive line as Bachmeier’s had in his time here, with Cade Beresford added as a bookend to John Ojukwu at tackle, and Kekani Holomalia-Gonzalez back at center after missing last season. And Bachmeier has what looks like at least a one-two punch at running back again.
DUDLEY GETS A LOOK AS A BACK
The biggest buzz surrounding Boise State’s pre-fall camp press conferences Monday had to do with the running backs room. Wide receiver Kaden Dudley is apparently moving in. Dudley will join star George Holani and potential star Ashton Jeanty. At the same time, Taequan Tyler is stepping away from the Broncos for personal reasons. Some Broncos faithful with good memories noted that Jeremy McNichols began his Boise State career as a wide receiver, burning his redshirt year in 2014 when an injury ended Matt Miller’s career. McNichols transitioned into one of the best running backs in school history. And fan favorite Vinny Perretta spent time backing up Ian Johnson at running back in 2006. We’ll find out if Dudley can eventually be Boise State’s next “slash.” Or better yet, the next McWeapon.
MORE OPTIONS IN THE FRONT SEVEN
Twitter turned into kind of a water cooler Monday after the Boise State roster was updated ahead of fall camp. One flash point was the size of the Broncos’ true freshmen in the front seven, including linebacker Dishawn Misa and edge Jayden Virgin. As set as the lineup seems to be at those spots, let’s not count these guys out. Misa is listed at 6-3, 235 pounds, and Virgin is 6-3, 240. Linebacker could be a bit fluid behind Zeke Noa and Isaiah Bagnah. And edge is the position that’s missing the medically-retired Shane Irwin. Misa was one of the highest-rated linebacker recruits in the country coming out of Tacoma, rated No. 5 at his position by ESPN, and Virgin racked up 16 sacks last season as a senior in San Diego. Those are two guys we’ll want to revisit in December.
RELATIVELY HEALTHY OUT OF THE GATE
Boise State is about as healthy as can be expected going into fall camp. Coach Andy Avalos said Monday tight end Riley Smith and cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho, with shoulder injuries, and nickel Tyreque Jones, with a lower leg problem, will be held back in camp but will be ready to go for the opener at Oregon State one month from today. And that’s it among the mainstays. Star left tackle John Ojukwu and cornerback Markel Reed, Avalos says, are ready to go right now. That’s big for Reed, who began last year as a starter but was injured in the fifth game and missed the rest of the season.
RECRUITING PICKS UP AGAIN
Boise State is kicking off fall camp today with a fresh commitment. It came Tuesday from Michael Madrie, a 6-4, 255-pound defensive lineman from Argyle, Texas. While Madrie kind of flew under the recruiting radar, he did have 14 other offers, including Washington State, Colorado, and Kansas, plus three Mountain West schools. In watching his highlights at 247 Sports, it’s hard to put a handle on his speed, but it’s clear that he sheds blocks like it’s nobody’s business. Madrie is the Broncos’ 11th commit of the 2023 class.
ON THE SUBJECT OF ‘BLUE TURF AFTER DARK’
Let’s talk about Pac-12 After Dark as it pertains to Boise State. Would 8:15 p.m. kickoffs be worth a move by Boise State to the Pac-12? Fans have complained about those for years, and now they’ve gone by the wayside with ESPN out of the picture. Well, Stewart Mandel of The Athletic says “Pac-12 After Dark is a sneaky-big advantage.” Those late kickoffs, writes Mandel, “may be the league’s saving grace in its next deal. The Big 12’s leftover eight have had far more of their games relegated to the ratings graveyard that is FS1 than the Pac-12’s, while the Pac-12 got more pickups by main ESPN. And that’s entirely because the league is able to place games at 10:30 p.m. ET.” And the Pac-12 drew more viewers. Could you handle that, Bronco Nation?
NO. 4 NEXT TO NO. 3 IN DENVER?
The fourth time could be a charm for former Boise State star Brett Rypien in Denver. Not that Rypien’s a threat to be a starter, but all he can ask for is the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Russell Wilson. Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla posted Monday on Twitter: “There's a long way, and many exhibition-game snaps, to go in Broncos training camp. But here's my guess: Brett Rypien will win No. 2 QB job over Josh Johnson.” Reports say Rypien has improved his footwork, arm strength and throwing mechanics. Add that to his natural football smarts, and you may see a payoff this year for a guy who came out of Boise State as the Mountain West’s career passing leader only to go undrafted in 2019. No. 4 may be standing alongside No. 3 this fall in the Mile High City.
BEYOND THE BLUE-AND-ORANGE GLASSES
Bronco Nation is biased when it comes to Khalil Shakir. Of course he’s going to shine for the Buffalo Bills, right? But every news snippet from Bills training camp supports that notion. Does anything in this dispatch from the Buffalo News surprise you? “Shakir, the fifth-round draft pick from Boise State, had a good day in 11-on-11 work. He showed good hands, plucking a pass out of the air from Case Keenum that was a tad behind him. Shakir showed a quick burst up the field on a run after the catch on a pass from Matt Barkley. Then Shakir ran a good route down the right sideline, giving himself room to adjust to the outside, and hauled in a pass of about 25 yards from Barkley.” Coach Sean McDermott says Shakir is one of three or four Bills “making a ton of big plays in camp.”
NO MENTOR QUITE LIKE BIG MIKE
It was great seeing video of former Idaho Vandal and NFL offensive lineman Mike Iupati working with the College of Idaho offensive line on the first day of Coyotes fall camp Tuesday. Iupati is testing the coaching waters with the Yotes a year and a half after retiring from the NFL. He was a first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 and played 11 NFL seasons. With Iupati on the staff, and with former Boise State quarterback Andy Peters transferring in to compete with Ryan Hibbs, it’ll be an interesting season. Coach Mike Moroski told the Idaho Press this is his “most talented and deepest team,” but the Yotes were picked to finish fourth in the Frontier Conference this season.
MERRITT BACK IN THE BIG MONEY
Troy Merritt is taking a breath before the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs begin next week with the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis. The former Boise State star, with a No. 64 ranking in FedExCup standings, has some momentum again. Merritt’s weekend surge last week saw his return to a six-digit paycheck at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. He went 68-65 in the final two rounds and finished 15-under, earning $153,300. It was his best result in 3½ months.
THE HAWKS’ KEY NUMBER
It’s not the way they drew it up this season. The Boise Hawks have the worst record in the Northwest League at 20-41. The Hawks opened a three-game series at Idaho Falls Tuesday with a 12-10 loss to the Chukars. But for fans, minor league games are all about fun at the ballpark, and the turnstiles have been strong at Memorial Stadium. The Hawks are second in the league in attendance, averaging 3,370 fans per game. As I’ve said before, only the most rabid fans know the difference between the Tri-City Dust Devils and Missoula Paddleheads.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS — August 3, 1977:
The birthday of a quarterback who — love him or hate him — will go down as the greatest in NFL history. Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the only player in NFL history to win seven Super Bowls —and the only player to appear in 10 Super Bowls (all but one with the New England Patriots on both counts). Brady, a sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan in 2000, has never had a losing season as a starter. He’s currently the NFL career leader in every major passing category, and he’s ready to do it again this season. Tom Brady…45 years old today.
(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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