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Boise State football: Head start on Senior Night

It’s going to be a long Senior Day ceremony this Saturday night, as 24 Boise State players will be honored before the New Mexico game.

BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

Riley Whimpey’s first introduction to Boise State fans was at a preseason Bronco Athletic Association event in 2017, when he did a standing back-flip on stage after he was introduced. This Saturday night Whimpey will bow out in front of local fans when he comes out for Senior Night against New Mexico. Whimpey is one of Boise State’s “super seniors” who took advantage of the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility due to COVID. He’s been all about the Broncos ever since he committed to the program way back in 2015—same year as Brett Rypien. Whimpey stuck with the plan in 2017 after an LDS mission, and later persevered through a torn ACL suffered against BYU in 2018. He was back for the 2019 opener. Going into his blue turf finale, Whimpey has 278 career tackles, including 20 for loss and six sacks.

HOLANI’S TWO HALVES

Boise State’s George Holani topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive game against Wyoming, netting 102 yards on 20 carries. But Holani’s first half was a ton different than his second. He rushed for 94 yards before the intermission, 79 of them in the first quarter. Holani gained only eight yards after halftime, all in the third quarter. Had the Broncos pushed him too hard after feeding him 15 carries in the first half? “On a couple of these drives, he was tired, and he was asking to come out,” said offensive coordinator Tim Plough Monday. But the ultimate answer is no. “Definitely want to get him as many touches as possible, and when he does, good things obviously happen,” Plough said. It’s hard to imagine that Holani doesn’t have four-quarter stamina now, especially the way he chewed up Fresno State.

NO FINISHING TOUCH LIKE TOUCHDOWNS

The red zone was an issue for the Boise State offense against Wyoming last Friday, and offensive coordinator Tim Plough knows it. “We’re obviously moving the ball the way we want to, but we’re not finishing those drives,” Plough told the media Monday, noting that the Broncos have been in the red zone a lot. They have, but on a Mountain West-leading 47 trips inside the red zone, they’ve scored only 26 touchdowns. “We had some things set (against Wyoming)—some screens—that looked promising, and we just didn’t finish it correctly.” Hence all the field goals; Jonas Dalmas has kicked seven of them in the past two games.

DALMAS KEEPS DRILLING ‘EM

The Lou Groza Award committee must have been watching the Boise State-Wyoming game just before halftime, because for the second straight week, Dalmas is one of the Groza Award’s “Stars of the Week.” Dalmas, of course, made three field goals against the Cowboys last Friday—one of them at the end of the half following three consecutive Wyoming time outs. At 91.7 percent, Dalmas now has the best field goal percentage of any kicker in the country with more than 20 attempts. He has 22 makes, second-most in the country and three short of Tyler Rausa’s school record. Dalmas has also connected on 14 straight field goals.

NO MORE LAKE AT MONTLAKE

Things did not work out for Chris Petersen’s hand-picked successor at Washington, Jimmy Lake, and it was shockingly swift. Lake was fired Sunday after only 13 games. The public dust-ups were obvious, but there were lots of missteps along the way, as Lake seemed determined to make it his program and not a mirror of Coach Pete. The consensus is that Lake’s first step down the slippery slope was letting offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan go when he took the job. He hired John Donovan, then an offensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had a rather undistinguished portfolio. Lake fired Donovan nine days ago. With Donovan as O-coordinator, the Huskies averaged 24.5 points per game. Hamdan, the former Boise State quarterback, had UW at 32.0 in his final season in 2019.

HUSKIES SPECULATION

Familiar names abound on the list of possible UW candidates being thrown around by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic. Boise State has faced three of them this season, and two more have strong Broncos ties. BYU’s Kilani Sitake would seem to be a frontunner if he wants to be, and he was evasive at his Monday press conference. Sitake and the Cougars are 4-0 versus Pac-12 schools this season. Nevada’s Jay Norvell, who’s also been mentioned for the Washington State job, has extensive Pac-12 experience. Fresno State’s Kaden DeBoer has coached former UW quarterback Jake Haener into a star. Two former Boise State and Washington assistants, Cal coach Justin Wilcox and Texas co-defensive coordinator Jeff Choate are also being mentioned. The mess the Bears are in is not considered to be Wilcox’s fault.

KELLEN MOORE’S MULLIGAN

Every good NFL team, it seems, puts up a clunker at some point during the season. And the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive performance in Sunday’s 43-3 rout of Atlanta tells you that’s exactly what the previous week’s game was (a 30-16 loss to Denver that wasn’t that close). Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore gets a pass for that one, because his Cowboys attack was back to its old shreddin’ self against the Falcons. Dallas put up 431 yards, with 296 yards passing and two touchdowns from Dak Prescott. Now that Moore “is no longer a candidate” for the TCU job (did he ever consider himself one?) he can go full-tilt on the stretch run to a possible NFC East title. The next one is a dandy: at Kansas City this Sunday.

BONNIES BUMPED UP ONE SPOT

St. Bonaventure, Boise State’s opponent in the opener at the Charleston Classic Thursday afternoon, rose one spot from No. 23 to 22 this week in the AP Poll. But the Bonnies almost went the other way. They had to rally from an 11-point second-half deficit Sunday to beat Canisius 69-60. St. Bonaventure’s comeback did not include star center Osun Osunniyi, the nation’s active career leader in blocked shots. Osunniyi left the game after aggravating a back injury. We’ll see what his status is for the game against the Broncos. Mladen Armus’ inquiring mind would surely like to know.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…November 16, 1996, 25 years ago today:

In one of the most emotional games in Boise State history, cancer-stricken Pokey Allen returns to the sidelines to coach the Broncos against New Mexico State in Las Cruces. Allen had been away all season undergoing treatment, and Boise State had struggled with a 1-9 record that included a school record eight-game losing streak at that point. But three Tony Hilde-to-Ryan Ikebe touchdown passes—the last with less than a minute left—gave Pokey his first and only victory as a Division I-A football coach, 33-32. The cancer would claim his life a month and a half later.

(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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