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Boise State football: Friendly competition

“Jack and Hank, the way they work together, can only be a great example to the rest of the team,” said Coach Andy Avalos at the outset of spring football.
Credit: David Zalubowski/AP Photo
Boise State’s Jack Sears throws against Air Force as John Bates blocks in an NCAA game Saturday Oct. 31 2020, at Air Force Academy, Colo. Boise State won 49-30.

BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

There are no assumptions to make when it comes to the quarterback position at Boise State this year. As in, Hank Bachmeier is not a lock as he goes into his true junior year. Not with a new head coach, Andy Avalos, evaluating every little thing. And not with Jack Sears lurking after a game for the ages last Halloween. But neither QB is feeling heat or is resentful of the other. “He’s always been somebody I could reach out to about a number of things, and he’s still that way,” said Bachmeier of Sears. Of course, when asked about his expectation to be the starter, Sears said, “I think that’s every quarterback’s expectation—to compete to win, to perform at the highest-level.” Both Bachmeier and Sears are cramming to learn new offensive coordinator Tim Plough’s system right now—with “all-for-one and one-for-all” mindsets.

The 2020 sample size on Bachmeier was large—and pedestrian. Everything was okay. His completion percentage was 62 percent, with six touchdowns versus two interceptions. Bachmeier’s pass efficiency rating was 133.6, which is average. The sample size on Sears was small but impressive, with most of it coming in his lights-out performamce at Air Force. He completed 85 percent of his throws, with three TDs and zero picks. Sears’ efficiency rating was 225.1, which is, let’s say, way up there. Boise State’s goal this spring is preservation of the duo. “There are very, very few situations where (the QBs) will be live,” coach Andy Avalos said of the Broncos’ plans at the beginning of spring drills.

‘D’ IS THE KEY INGREDIENT

It almost feels like Boise State has to build on a couple of milestones it hit last Thursday in its NIT victory over SMU. The Broncos’ 85 points and 14 three-pointers were their most ever in a national postseason tournament game. But Memphis held Dayton to 61 points on Saturday, so good luck with that in this Thursday’s NIT quarterfinal. What Boise State has to do is find the defensive grit that has been lacking the past few weeks. In the past three games, opponents have shot a shade under 46 percent from the field and exactly 50 percent from beyond the arc. Those three-pointers are especially maddening. But the Broncos have also been outscored in the paint 96-82 over that same period.

NOT A PITINO, BUT A KRUGER AT UNLV

Instead of going for some splashy name, Las Vegas-style (like Rick Pitino, father of newly hired New Mexico coach Richard Pitino?), UNLV has opted for continuity and promoted from within, as Kevin Kruger has been named the Rebels’ new men’s basketball coach. Kruger is the son of Lon Kruger, who coached the Rebels to their last great moment in the sun, the Sweet 16 in 2007, and is now at Oklahoma. In fact, Kevin Kruger had transferred to UNLV from Arizona State to play that season under his dad. He’s been an assistant the past two seasons on the staff of T.J. Otzelberger, who just left to take the Iowa State job. Kruger is the Rebels’ sixth head coach in the past 10 years—and the 14th since Jerry Tarkanian left in 1992. UNLV hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2013.

LONG & WINDING ROAD TO NATIONALS

The 17th-ranked Boise State women’s gymnastics team has been selected for its 13th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. The Broncos, who finished second over the weekend at the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships, will be part of an eight-team field in Salt Lake City April 1-3. Boise State has never been to nationals. The Broncos have just missed several times, but now it’s harder than ever to get there, as only eight teams make the NCAA Championships (two out of each regional). Among those Boise State would have to knock off in Salt Lake City are No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Utah, No. 11 Arizona State and No. 14 Kentucky.

ONE OF THE HANDS-DOWN ALL-TIMERS

It may seem a stretch to call Elgin Baylor a “former College of Idaho star,” since he was a Coyote for just one season in 1954-55. But he always considered himself part of the Yote Fam. Baylor, one of the greatest players in basketball history, passed away Monday at the age of 86. His wife, Elaine, who joined C of I’s Board of Trustees just last month, and his daughter, Crystal, were by his side. Baylor’s one season in Caldwell was jaw-dropping. Playing alongside R.C. Owens, he averaged 32.4 points and 19 rebounds per game. He then transferred to Seattle University and led it to the 1958 NCAA championship game before being drafted No. 1 overall by the then-Minneapolis Lakers. Baylor was NBA Rookie of the Year and was a 10-time All-NBA selection in his 14 seasons with the Lakers.

Baylor had been back to College of Idaho twice in the past 16 years, most recently in 2017 when he was inducted into the C of I Athletic Hall of Fame. He also came back in 2005 when the 1954-55 squad was inducted collectively into the Hall. We can only hope the Caldwell of today is reflective of the town in the mid-1950s. “He said when he left (home in) Washington D.C., he couldn’t eat at the restaurants there—he could only go to certain restaurants (during segregation),” said longtime C of I athletic director and men’s basketball coach, Marty Holly. “And then he came to Idaho and could do what he wanted. He was very impressed with the people of Idaho and the people of Caldwell. It opened his eyes to a different part of the country, and what he saw, he liked.”

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…March 23, 2011, 10 years ago today:

Boise State plays its final basketball game as a member of the WAC, falling 79-71 at Oregon in the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational. The Broncos went 22-13 in Leon Rice’s first year, earning the school’s ninth 20-win season and recording two home victories in the CBI (over Austin Peay and Evansville). Attendance, which had averaged a Taco Bell Arena record-low 3,061 per game the previous season, rose to 4,594.

(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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