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Boise State football: Different kind of Senior Day

There are currently 20 seniors on the Boise State roster. And even though the NCAA says there could be a tomorrow for them, they’d best play like there isn’t one.
Credit: Marco Garcia/AP Photo
Boise State’s CT Thomas finishes a 55-yard pass play against Hawaii during an NCAA game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Honolulu. Boise State won 40-32.

BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday, November 24, 2020.

Wasn’t it just yesterday this convoluted Boise State football season started? No, it was actually one month ago today. That’s weird enough. Now the Broncos are looking at Senior Day this Saturday—one unlike any other they’ve seen. “These seniors will run on the field, and we’ll have our moment,” said coach Bryan Harsin. But it may be without parents, and it’ll definintely be short about 34,000 fans. Thing is, these seniors all have an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, thanks to coronavirus upheaval. But even if they want to use it, will they be able to? “Every university’s going to be different,” noted Harsin. “We haven’t gotten to who’s coming back or things like that.” How many of this year’s seniors can fit onto next year’s roster? With an incoming recruiting class, there won’t be room for everybody.

TURNOVERS JUST WON’T TURN UP

Another week, another game without a turnover forced—just one of the issues Boise State is facing on defense as it prepares for a showdown with San Jose State this Saturday afternoon (yes, “showdown” with San Jose State). The Broncos have yet to recover a fumble this season, and they have just one interception. Sophomore safety JL Skinner had a chance at a pick in a second straight game Saturday night at Hawaii, but he dropped a pass that had been tipped right into his hands. It looked like a pick-six possibility, too. Nobody felt worse than Skinner, who tweeted after the game, “Win. I will be better.” Right now the Broncos would be happy to have Skinner back for the matchup with the Spartans. He gingerly walked off the field late in the third quarter and did not return.

LATEST SHUFFLE IS AT LINEBACKER

Two injuries other than Skinner’s everybody is wondering about from Saturday night are those of linebacker Zeke Noa, who went out with some kind of leg injury in early in the third quarter, and STUD Sam Whitney. With North Carolina State transfer Brock Miller still unavailable, the Broncos turned to the guy they depended on to fill in for Noa last year, senior Benton Wickersham. The senior from Elko, NV, made three tackles, one for loss. Noa, of course, was lost for the season in 2019 when he broke his wrist and tore his ACL on separate plays versus Air Force. There’s been no update on Noa’s nor Whitney’s status for the San Jose State game.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEKEND

The revelation that walk-on true freshman kicker Jonah Dalmas was awarded a scholarship before the Hawaii game was too cool. When the first Broncos depth chart was released this fall, we noticed Dalmas’ name at placekicker. “Where did that come from?” we wondered. There was an “or” between Dalmas and Joel Velazquez, so was it just a reward for a great fall camp, or what? Nope, Dalmas was the guy, and he’s 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, including a 43-yard yarder against the Rainbow Warriors that looked effortless and had plenty of ditstance. Were it not for the blocked extra-point try at Hawaii, he’d be a perfect 27-for-27 on PATs.

THE VELAZQUEZ FACTOR

Velazquez was back at punter for Boise State Saturday after missing two games. Velazquez’s “box of chocolates” career continued, as in, you never know what you’re gonna get. He opened the game with a backward-bouncing 27-yard boot, then got a positive-bouncing and field position-changing 62-yarder. Velazquez’s other two punts went for 44 and 35 yards. His average for the game was a serviceable 42.0 yards. Velazquez’ season average is just 36.8 yards per punt. For the record, Gavin Wale averaged 39.4 yards on seven boots against BYU, and Dalmas was at 35.8 yards per punt on five tries versus Colorado State.

A PLAYER OF THE WEEK

We’re not talking about Avery Williams here, as Nevada punter Julian Diaz was named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week. No, this is about former Boise State safety Jordan Happle, who is the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after a 58-yard pick-six for Oregon against UCLA Saturday, a key factor in the Ducks’ 38-35 victory at Autzen Stadium. The grad transfer also logged 11 tackles, the first Oregon player with double-digit stops and a pick-six in the same game in 10 years. It was Happle’s first interception since his freshman year with the Broncos against, ironically, Oregon—when he picked off Justin Herbert in the Las Vegas Bowl.

‘ANY TEAM, ANY TIME, ANY PLACE’

That’s a variation of the phrase Fresno State coach Pat Hill used to trumpet in the 2000s. And the Bulldogs usually followed through, alhough it was usually to their detriment in trying to focus on WAC championships. That is a phrase BYU is tossing around now as it tries to build a resume for a New Year’s Six bowl. So the Apple Cup was canceled between Washington and Washington State, and sources say the Huskies reached out to BYU to hastily schedule a game, but the undefeated Cougars declined. Deseret News columnist Dick Harmon claimed it was because it was “a road game with no payout” and that BYU was “being forced to swallow Pac-12 health protocols.” Mike Vorel of the Seattle Times said the Cougars “preferred not to agree to a game until seeing their spot in the initial College Football Playoff ranking Tuesday.”

RICE’S CHEMISTRY LAB

The season is supposed to start this Friday, but there’s still no Boise State men’s basketball schedule listed at BroncoSports.com. We do know the Broncos are slated to open at No. 17 Houston, though, and their chances of upsetting the Cougars will be determined largely by how well they mesh on the floor. At first glance, it looks like an entirely new cast of characters. But most of these guys have been practicing together for over a year. Emmanuel Akot, Marcus Shaver Jr. and Mladen Armus have been playing together for a year—and Devonaire Doutrive almost that long. Plus, coach Leon Rice is known for constructing chemistry.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…November 24, 2015, five years ago today:

The Golden State Warriors improve to 16-0, the best start in NBA history, in a 111-77 rout of the L.A. Lakers in Oakland. Steph Curry, who led the Warriors to the previous season’s NBA title, scored 24 points. Legendary Laker Kobe Bryant, in his 20th and final season, had one of the worst games of his career, going 1-of-14 from the field. Golden State broke the record with interim coach Luke Walton on the bench, as head coach Steve Kerr was out with a debilitating back ailment. The Warriors eclipsed the 15-0 starts by the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and the 1993-94 Houston Rockets.

(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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