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Boise State football: The Fresno State Broncos

Almost three years ago, BSU linebacker Tyson Maeva went into an involuntary transfer portal. He has emerged as a force at Fresno State, ready to face old friends.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

Tyson Maeva was a good linebacker for Boise State. The last game he played for the Broncos was the 2018 Mountain West championship game loss to Fresno State. Maeva had 61 tackles at the time, second among Boise State defenders. The teams haven’t met since, but when they do Saturday, Maeva will be wearing Bulldog red. It’s his second stop since being dismissed from the Boise State program when he was sent home from Dallas before the First Responder Bowl. That fostered a transfer to Florida International, where he sat out 2019 and played four games last year. Maeva then opted to take advantage of a super-senior year and transferred to Fresno State. And he is still what we thought he was—a physical presence who is currently the Bulldogs’ second-leading tackler with 41 stops.

Fresno State defensive end David Perales was excited about Maeva’s intangibles this summer. “He’s a very vocal leader,” Perales told me at Mountain West Media Days. “He’s a competitor. He brings an element to our defense that we didn’t have last year.” Bulldogs coach Kaden DeBoer said Maeva was a driven guy. “This is his last opportunity,” said DeBoer. “Coming back to California was a big deal to him.” Maeva’s impact was immediate. “The first time I got on the phone with him, I could feel the energy,” DeBoer said. “The experience he brings, the maturity he brings.” DeBoer noted that the Bulldogs’ unity council, consisting of 10 or so mostly upperclassmen that helps guide team policy and leadership, asked that Maeva be added to the group.

BLUE & ORANGE DNA ON THE STAFF

The Fresno State coaching staff has a Bronco flavor, too. Four former Boise State players are coaching under DeBoer, and you can expect two in particular to be especially fired up for this game. When offensive coordinator Zak Hill left Boise State for Arizona State after the 2019 season, Lee Marks was hoping to get a shot. But Marks didn’t get the job, and he’s now the Bulldogs’ running backs coach and assistant head coach. Safe to say Fresno State star Ronnie Rivers likes Marks. “He’s an awesome coach,” said Rivers at Mountain West Media Days. “He pushes me to be the best player I can be and the best man I can be. He’s been great in making us understand defensive fronts and coverages.”

The other inspired Bulldogs assistant is nickels coach and recruiting coordinator Julius Brown, who wasn’t retained as secondary coach at Boise State after the 2015 season. Brown spent four years at Utah State before joining the ‘Dogs. Former Boise State wide receivers Kirby Moore and Taylor Pope are also on the Fresno State staff. Moore, Kellen’s brother (of course), has been the Bulldogs wideouts coach since 2017, when Jeff Tedford hired him after working with him at Washington. Pope is an offensive graduate assistant. Broncos coach Andy Avalos remembers all four of them fondly. "Those guys are awesome," Avalos said Monday. "They've obviously done a tremendous job there. They are great men and great coaches."

HANK’S 2021 LEDGER

Hank Bachmeier’s entire Boise State career has been marked by duress in the pocket. Some of it was self-generated as a true freshman, but as a junior he has hung in there remarkably, seldom holding onto the ball too long or letting happy feet get the best of him. The most amazing thing is that we’re eight games in, and Hank is still standing. As for Bachmeier’s numbers, they’re a lot better than last year. But that’s not a good comparison, with COVID and all. So there’s this: Bachmeier is averaging 275 yards per game passing versus 235 in 2019. And he’s thrown for 15 touchdowns this year against nine as a freshman. His completion percentage is up two points to 65 percent. And Bachmeier’s pass efficiency rating has improved slightly from 142.7 to 145.2. That’s good—it grades out to about a “B.”

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK

Do you get the feeling Kellen Moore likes his job? It had to be difficult preparing for Minnesota Sunday night with Dak Prescott out and Cooper Rush in at quarterback for Dallas. But Moore just went into his Halloween laboratory and pulled out what the Cowboys are calling the “hulk package.” Moore used not only five lineman on the line of scrimmage but inserted two more in the backfield to protect Rush and block for Ezekiel Elliot. Dallas utilized it four times, but it kept the Vikings honest enough to open things up for Rush. And one of the results was a dandy 73-yard touchdown pass to former Boise State star Cedrick Wilson. Also out of Kellen’s lab: a 35-yard wide receiver pass from Wilson to CeeDee Lamb. It was a beaut.

A JUNIOR AT VANDALS SENIOR DAY

It’s an uncommonly early Senior Day Saturday at Idaho, as the Vandals host Southern Utah in their 2021 home finale. When the seniors walk out to be honored before the game, they’ll be joined by star junior linebacker Tre Walker, according to coach Paul Petrino Tuesday on Idaho SportsTalk. Walker, an NFL prospect, is having the season expected of a Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and FCS All-American. He’s second in the conference this year with 77 tackles and now has a whopping 310 in his three-year Idaho career (he made 138 stops in 2019). It’ll be interesting to see where Walker is a year from now.

THIS DAY IN SP[ORTS…November 3, 2001, 20 years ago today:

Eli Manning throws six touchdown passes, five of them in overtime, but it isn’t enough as Ole Miss falls to Arkansas in seven OT’s 58-56. The game, the first in NCAA history to go seven overtimes, was tied 17-17 at the end of regulation. It lasted four hours, 14 minutes. Manning was a sophomore at the time; he’d go on to be the first overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. The Razorbacks were coached by Houston Nutt, in his fourth season after leaving Boise State.

(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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