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Boise State football: The double-edged sword

It’s the age-old Spring Game conundrum. If one side of the ball struggles, that means the other side did pretty well. Is Boise State’s glass half-empty or half-full?
Credit: Tyler McFarland/Boise State Athletics
George Holani tries to elude a tackle attempt by JL Skinner in the Boise State Spring Game at Albertsons Stadium, Saturday, April 10, 2021.

BOISE, Idaho — Monday, April 12, 2021.

Offense win fans, and defense wins the Spring Game. That’s how it often goes, and as much as the 5,777 fans who snapped up tickets wanted to see an offensive explosion, the Boise State defense won Saturday’s contest decisively. The Broncos have been hyping their new tempo offense, and they unveiled the no-huddle attack on the blue turf. But what we saw was three interceptions, seven sacks and 11 three-and-outs. Two things to note when evaluating those struggles, however: 1) Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears would have escaped half of those sacks if they were live, and 2) offensive coordinator Tim Plough kept the run-pass option bottled up, in my opinion, because what was the point? When Bachmeier or Sears kept it in those situations, the whistle would blow if the defense so much as breathed on them.

NO CLARITY AT QUARTERBACK

Bachmeier started the game, mainly because coach Andy Avalos said his numbers were slightly better than Sears during the entirety of spring football. Bachmeier began slowly, while Sears busted out like a house afire. On his second possession, he went 3-for-3 for 75 yards, connecting with Billy Bowens for 40 yards and Stefan Cobbs for 29 on back-to-back snaps and tossing a six-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Eiguren. But as the day went on, Sears cooled off considerably and Bachmeier got into a little bit of a rhythm. Call it a draw. Bachmeier was 15-for-26 for 158 yards and a touchdown with one interception, and Sears went 11-for-20 for 146 yards and the one TD with two picks. Each of the QBs suffered an interception on a bad overthrow. Bachmeier’s may have been affected by the wind—it was a good day for kite-flyin’.

SETTING THE TABLE FOR FALL CAMP

Among the defenders who left their mark in the Spring Game was redshirt freshman cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho, who did his best impression of his playmaking older brother with an acrobatic interception late in the first quarter. Kaniho was credited with two pass breakups (one on the pick) and made three tackles. True freshman Seyi Oladipo, hoping to get into the rotation at safety, made an over-the-shoulder interception just before halftime and ran it back about 30 yards. Up front, Jackson Cravens helped put a crimp in the running game with five tackles two of them credited as sacks. The Utah transfer could be huge in helping spell fellow tackles Scale Igiehon and Scott Matlock this fall.

THE WIDE RECEIVERS ROOM SHOWS

Despite the offense’s struggles, fans did get what they bargained for from the much-hyped wide receivers corps, who spread the extra reps around while Khalil Shakir made only a cameo as a kick returner. Mac Griffin led the Broncos with four receptions for 58 yards as he makes a bid for the 2021 rotation. Billy Bowens had three grabs for 56 yards and a touchdown, and Stefan Cobbs’ two receptions covered 53 yards. And Shea Whiting made a dent with three catches for 33 yards. CT Thomas, who had nothing to prove Saturday, recorded one reception for seven yards.

VANDALS QB WITH WHEELS

The first thing I noticed when we were tracking the Idaho-Eastern Washington game Saturday was: the Vandals have only 16 passing yards at halftime? But that was because No. 4 quarterback Zach Borisch, who surprisingly got the start, was running wild. Borisch ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 33 attempts on the Eagles’ red carpet, but counterpart Eric Barriere won the day, throwing for 309 yards and two TDs in EWU’s 38-31 victory. Borisch recorded Idaho’s first 200-yard game on the ground in 13 years. His total was the 11th-most in Vandals history. Idaho missed the other dimension, though, as Borisch threw for only 74 yards on 11 throws and was intercepted twice. 

YOTES HIT THE WALL IN HELENA

College of Idaho’s reality changed suddenly Saturday afternoon in Helena, MT. The Coyotes’ abbreviated season is over after four games, as Carroll College prevailed 28-19 and won the tiebreaker to take the Frontier Conference championship and an automatic berth in the NAIA Playoffs. The Yotes then waited until late Sunday afternoon to see if an at-large playoff berth was in the offing, and it wasn’t. So C of I’s 20-game regular season winning streak is history, and the Yotes set their sights on the fall. But this team is loaded. You can mark it down as a Frontier contender again right now.

LOVILLE OPTS FOR THE SUN DEVILS

Jade Loville tweeted Friday that her new hoops home will be Arizona State. Loville had entered the transfer portal three weeks earlier after leading Boise State in scoring this season and becoming the first Bronco every to score 40 points in a game in women’s basketball. She averaged 17.1 points per game this past season and was named first-team All-Mountain West. Loville was born in Arizona, and her dad, former NFL running back Derek Loville, lives there now. But according to the Arizona Republic, Loville also considered Florida, Georgia Tech, California, Colorado and USC before settling on ASU.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…April 12, 2004:

Giants outfielder Barry Bonds catches his godfather, Willie Mays, for the number three spot on baseball’s career home run list. The suspiciously bulked-up Bonds deposited a pitch out of what is now Oracle Park and into McCovey Cove on Opening Day in San Francisco, the 660th homer of his career. He would pass Mays the following day and set his tainted sights on Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. After Bonds passed Aaron in 2007, ending up with 762 career homers, the Giants elected not to re-sign him that winter. And nobody else ever picked him up.

(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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