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Boise State football: The missing link is in the air

With Mountain West Media Days set for next week in Las Vegas, let’s deal with one preliminary Boise State football question.
Credit: Steve Conner/AP Photo
Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier looks to throw downfield against Utah State in an NCAA game Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 42-13.

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Boise State’s new-fangled up-tempo attack under offensive coordinator Tim Plough will bear watching this season. As in, will the Broncos return to their touchdown pass proclivity? That number has been mostly lacking since Kellen Moore graduated. Not that we’re expecting Kellen’s pinball numbers, but only once since 2011 has a Boise State quarterback tossed more than 24 TD passes in a season (Brett Rypien threw 30 as a senior in 2018). In half of the last eight non-COVID seasons, a Broncos QB hasn’t even reached 20. Last year during the pandemic, Boise State had 12 touchdown passes in seven games—Hank Bachmeier tossed six of them in the five games he played. Moore threw for 43 TDs as a senior. Hey, split the difference and we’re good.

While we’re on the subject, there are two interesting footnotes from the 2000s. Taylor Tharp, who spent one season as Boise State’s starting quarterback before Moore arrived, had an outstanding senior year in 2007, throwing for 30 touchdowns. And there’s no telling what Ryan Dinwiddie could have done as a senior in 2003 had he not been snakebitten by play-calling. Dinwiddie logged 31 TD passes that year, which is great. But countless times Broncos receivers would be dragged down on the one or two-yard line after catches from Dinwiddie. Then Boise State would run it in for a touchdown on the next play. It happened after Dinwiddie hit Lawrence Bady for a 98-yard gain—from the Broncos’ one-yard line to SMU’s one. I never thought that was fair.

COMMITMENT NO. 12

Boise State coach Andy Avalos and his staff have had a lot more wins than losses on the recruiting trail. There was a win Wednesday, as Mason Graham of Servite High in Anaheim committed to the Broncos. Graham started at both offensive guard and defensive tackle last season for the Friars, no small feat at that level. Boise State recruited him for the D-line, but his coach at Servite, Troy Thomas, sees him on the other side as well. "I think he has an NFL future on the offensive line," Thomas told Greg Biggins of 247 Sports. "He's really good on both sides but as an offensive lineman, that's where I really like him a lot.” Keith Miller, the scout who founded Showcase Football camps around the country, tweeted: “Cannot overstate how big this is for Boise State. Turned down P5 offers to Bleed Blue.”

SUNSET FOR COACH SOLICH

A little piece of Famous Idaho Potato Bowl history was in the news Wednesday. Ohio University’s Frank Solich, the former Nebraska coach, retired from the Bobcats after 16 years at the helm. Solich said he needs “to focus on a cardiovascular health issue." He led to OU to two appearances in Boise’s bowl game, including the school’s first bowl victory in 2011 over Utah State. That game had one of the more thrilling finishes in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl lore, as Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton scored on a one-yard run with 13 seconds left to secure a 24-23 victory. Solich was head coach at Nebraska from 1998 to 2003, amassing a 58-19 record as Tom Osborne’s hand-picked successor. Wouldn’t Cornhuskers fans take that now?

C OF I’S DJP IN THE CFL

Former College of Idaho star Darius-James Peterson, who signed with Montreal of the CFL way back in March of 2020, is finally in his first Alouettes training camp. Drills began last Sunday, and pressure is coming quickly. In lieu of exhibition games, Montreal has scheduled two intra-squad games, with the first one set for Saturday. Peterson is the Coyotes’ career leader in both rushing yards (3,413) and passing yards (6,906). His remarkable run finished in 2019 with Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Year and NAIA All-American honors as he led the Yotes to an 11-1 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Playoffs.

THE LAND OF STRANGE BOUNCES AND ROLLS

Courses in the rotation for the Open Championship are known for their bunkers—essentially deep pits of sand surrounded by vertical walls. Troy Merritt is experiencing that today as he plays what they call the “Sandwich Links” on the coast east of London. “Royal St. George is known for the humps and bumps that send balls bouncing in myriad directions,” writes Ben Everill of PGATour.com. That includes the greens, which will probably tell the tale for Merritt. The former Boise State star has been putting really well during his run that started at the beginning of May. Merritt has missed only two cuts since the end of April (one of them was last Friday at the John Deere Classic).

HAWKS HARNESS THE BOISE HEAT

The Boise Hawks game against Great Falls at toasty Memorial Stadium was moseying along Wednesday night. Then the fourth and fifth innings happened. The Hawks put up 15 runs in the two frames combined and rolled to a 17-7 win over the visiting Voyagers. Boise clubbed four home runs, including a three-run shot from Jason Dicochea in the fourth that broke the game open. Wladimir Galindo, Christian Funk and Alejandro Rivero homered in the fifth.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…July 15, 2018:

In the highest-scoring World Cup final in 50 years, France wins its second championship with a 4-2 win over Croatia, the second-smallest country ever to make a World Cup title match. The six goals scored were as many as in the previous four World Cup finales combined. The Croatians were victimized by an own-goal and a French conversion on a penalty kick. The game wrapped up a World Cup full of upsets and drama. The tournament, which did not include the United States, was remarkably well-run by its Russian hosts.

(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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