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Boise State Football: Lining ‘em up behind Holani

George Holani has a COVID season next year if he wants one. Whether he takes it or not, the Broncos’ running backs room will have itself some personnel in 2023.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday Weekly: June 22, 2022.

He’s already a candidate for Boise State’s “all-name” team. The Broncos have received a commitment from running back Breezy Dubar, a 5-11, 190-pounder from Anna, Texas. Dubar is quite the prospect. “He’s got the ability to punish,” his high school coach, Seth Parr, told Jordan Kaye of the Idaho Press. “He’s got the ability to elude people. But he also has the top-end speed where he can score from anywhere. That’s what makes him different. It's untapped potential.” Dubar runs a 10.63 100-yard dash and had over 1,500 total yards last season.

Running backs coach Keith Bhonopha recruited Dubar at Washington, and according to Kaye, Bhonopha called in a reinforcement to get him to Boise State. Doug Martin helped close the deal during Dubar’s official visit. The Broncos’ running backs room is better-stocked this year — and appears to be well-stocked next year and beyond. Bhonopha has George Holani and true freshman Ashton Jeanty to work with this season, with Jeanty and Dubar already billed as the one-two punch of the future. Kaye reports that Dubar has his own lawn-mowing business in Texas called “Five Star Landscaping.” Now, in the NIL era, Dubar can grow his business in a new market if he wants to. Raise your hand if you’re in your teens and would like to go to work for a Boise State running back.

AS FOR THE CURRENT FEATURE BACK

B.J. Rains has completed his countdown of Boise State’s 25 most important players this year at Bronco Nation News. His No. 1 was quarterback Hank Bachmeier, with George Holani at No. 2. I’ll flip-flop those guys and go with Holani, for myriad reasons — not the least of which is taking the shackles off Bachmeier when the ground game is clicking. When Holani is healthy, the Broncos roll. All three of his 100-yard games last season came during Boise State’s four-game winning streak from Halloween into November. Guess what—that’s when Holani was fully healthy. Hey, he played only nine of the Broncos’ 12 games in 2021. Holani is the most important going in, but with the hopes here that Bachmeier will be the most important coming out.

Credit: Gary Kazanjian/AP Photo
Boise State’s George Holani, front, runs by Fresno State defenders during an NCAA football game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Boise State won 40-14.

DOOLEY DIGS INTO EXPECTATIONS

Phil Steele’s Preseason All-Mountain West team is much like Athlon’s, with 14 total Broncos on the list (as opposed to 15 in Athlon). Five Broncos are also Phil Steele first-teamers, but one of them flip-flopped with an Athlon first-team pick, as Steele has offensive lineman Ben Dooley in there instead of wide receiver Stephan Cobbs. This is hopefully a harbinger of good things for Dooley, a returning starter from 2021. If he can rise to that level with fellow first-teamer John Ojukwu, and with Kekani Holomalia-Gonzalez and Washington State transfer Cade Beresford also stocking the O-line, that unit could finally turn the corner. If Dooley can rise to that level. Steele’s first team also includes defensive tackle Scott Matlock, safety JL Skinner and kicker Jonah Dalmas.

BRONCOS GO OLD SCHOOL

Boise State has dipped into its coaching archives, and with it comes a stamp of credibility for current Broncos, as coach Andy Avalos added relative graybeards Dirk Koetter and Ron Collins as senior analysts last week. Who wouldn’t want to learn from these guys? Koetter, of course, has not only coached Boise State, but he’s been a head coach in the NFL. He’s best known as an accomplished NFL offensive coordinator. And Collins, who was on Dan Hawkins’ staff back in the day, was Avalos’ defensive coordinator when he was a star Broncos linebacker. Collins went to Colorado with Hawk and was later the longtime DC at Ohio. It’s not about the money. Both are expected to make about $24,000, according to documents submitted to the State Board of Education.

IMPARTIAL EVALUATION FOR KELLEN

This is not a Kellen Moore homer piece here in Boise State land. It comes from KTVB’s sister station, WFAA-TV in Dallas. It goes against the grain of all the complainers in the DFW. Eric Eager of Pro Football Focus, which is a deep dive into analytics, rates Moore, the Dallas offensive coordinator, as the No. 2 play-caller in the NFL behind Kansas City head coach Andy Reid. “Moore was terrific in 2021," writes Eager. "The Cowboys managed to rank third in yards per play and first in points scored” despite injuries to Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup. It’s not that WFAA doesn’t throw cold water on the ranking, wondering aloud why Kellen is ranked above L.A. Rams coach Sean McVay (for example), but overall, it’s a pointed message for Cowboys fans.

DEFINITION OF DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH?

Boise State technically has its roster replacement for departed 6-10, 240-pound center Mladen Armus. The question moving forward: can Detroit Mercy transfer Mohamed Sylla replace Armus’s considerable impact on the floor for the Broncos? Sylla is 6-11, 235 pounds, but there’s a small sample size out there for the Ivory Coast native. Sylla shot 86 percent from the field last season, but he only took seven shots in 10 games. He played two years of junior college ball in Florida. By my count, Sylla has one season to play, plus a COVID year if he wants it. He is probably a project that needs to develop quickly. But maybe that’s why Boise State coach Leon Rice was high on Sylla. Rice and his staff are known for player development. That is their assignment here.

DEGENHART & KEENE: ALL FOR THE EXPERIENCE

Boise State coach Leon Rice is back into his Broncos’ groove following the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Tijuana, where Team USA easily won the gold medal. Little-known fact: during the USA training camp in Houston the week before the tournament, the Broncos’ Tyson Degenhart and R.J. Keene were able to scrimmage with the USA squad. Degenhart, of course, is quickly becoming the face of the program. It was valuable for him to get to go against some of the best players in the nation under the age of 18. But it was especially cool for Keene, the 6-6 redshirt freshman guard who hails from the Houston area. Known as a three-point marksman in high school, Keene is trying to break through a backcourt that includes Marcus Shaver Jr., Max Rice and Texas Tech transfer Chibuzo Agbo.

AKOT MAKES HIS MOVE

Now that Emmanuel Akot announced over this past weekend that he is a Memphis Tiger, what will that mean for the former Boise State Bronco? Akot is not automatically going to be a starter for Penny Hardaway. So, is it exposure he wants? Memphis gets a lot of it. But in this world of the Interweb thingy, it’s hard for a good Division I player not to get noticed by the people that matter in NBA front offices. The key with Akot is probably his three-point shooting, because that’s what everybody talks about. He hit 39 percent from deep last season.

According to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, Memphis really did target Akot: “Losing Tyler Harris, Landers Nolley II, Emoni Bates and Lester Quinones—who combined to shoot 36.8% from 3-point land—meant that the Tigers waved goodbye to 83.8 percent of their made 3-pointers in 2021-22. Akot's 55 made three-pointers would have tied for most on the team last season.” Memphis was Akot’s last opponent as a Bronco. In the 64-53 loss to the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament in March, he was just 3-for-12 from the field and 1-for-6 from three-point range and scored seven points.

HOPEFULLY NO ‘MERRITT SCROLL’ THIS WEEK

I went to the U.S. Open leaderboard last Thursday and I scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled. I hate when that happens if I’m looking for Troy Merritt. I finally found him all the way down at No. 117. Merritt posted a five-over 75 in a first round that included four bogeys and two double-bogeys. The former Boise State star was in too deep a hole to recover and missed the cut in Brookline, Massachusetts. That came on the heels of Merritt’s best finish ever in one of golf’s majors last month: a tie for 41st at the PGA Championship. This week’s task is the Travelers Championship, teeing off Thursday morning at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

HAWKS TRY TO CLAW BACK

The Boise Hawks are back on the road after a homestand that saw then win four of six games against the Rocky Mountain Vibe. Thing is, the Vibe are the worst team in the Pioneer League. The Hawks, who started the season 5-13 and are now 9-14, have a bigger challenge now on a nine-game swing through Billings and Ogden. The last score we saw online for Game 1 against the Mustangs in Montana Tuesday night had the Hawks trailing 6-5 in the top of the seventh inning. Rain delay? Don’t know.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…June 22, 1990:

Atlanta replaces manager Russ Nixon with general manager Bobby Cox, and that begins a run in the Braves dugout that would last more than 20 years. Cox led Atlanta to division titles in 15 straight seasons from 1991-2005, including the World Series championship in 1995. He also managed the Braves from 1978-81 and the Toronto Blue Jays from 1982-85 and is fourth in major league history in managerial wins with 2,195. Cox retired from his second stint with the Braves after the 2010 season. He is, by the way, baseball’s all-time leader in ejections with 158 (plus three more in the postseason).

 (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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