Monday, August 28, 2017.
It’s game week for Boise State, which means the first in-season depth chart is out for the Troy game this Saturday. It’s just a digital piece of paper, but the Broncos are not tipping their hand on how their true freshmen wide receivers will be woven into the rotation. We’re sure they will, though. The pecking order is the same as it was on the preseason chart, with A.J. Richardson and Sean Modster joining Cedrick Wilson as starters and Akilian Butler, Bryan Jefferson and Austin Cottrell backing them up. But it seems there’s going to be a place for Octavius Evans and/or CT Thomas come Saturday. Evans has good size, at 6-1, 195 pounds, and has been the one turning heads all summer. At 5-8, 152, Thomas is more of a jitterbug in the Shane Williams-Rhodes vein. Looking forward to seeing how it shakes out.
The word “or” makes its way into the conversation on the depth chart. That word has been newly-inserted between Alexander Mattison and Ryan Wolpin at running back. What happens with the running game this Saturday is going to be huge. This can be viewed a couple different ways. There could still be concerns about Mattison being 100 percent going into the opener, or Wolpin has simply had a great fall camp—or a combination of the two. Wolpin is surely anxious to tote the ball this week. He carried just 13 times for 39 yards all of last year after finishing the 2015 season with 13 attempts for 89 yards in the fourth quarter alone at the Poinsettia Bowl.
There’s another new “or” in the secondary, and it speaks to the impressive fall camp turned in by cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros. He’s now listed as even-keel with highly-touted junior college transfer Mike Young. Harrison-Ducros was originally backing up Tyler Horton at the other corner spot. Cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose talked about the sophomore from Coffeyville, TX, in the same breath as DeAndre Pierce during spring football. The Broncos felt good enough about Harrison-Ducros a year ago to play him right out of the gate as a true freshman in the opener at Louisiana-Lafayette.
At linebacker, the optimism over the development of that unit might be tempered by its depth. Not at the strong-side position, where the diverse and situational trio of Gabe Perez, Desmond Williams and Avery Williams are locked in. But behind Tyson Maeva and Leighton Vander Esch at the other two spots are redshirt freshmen Benton Wickersham and Bruno DeRose. Never heard of ‘em? Wickersham and DeRose walked on to the Boise State program last year. DeRose appears because Blake Whitlock is missing now from the depth chart after being declared out for the season with s shouler injury. Whitlock, himself a one-time walk-on, was called upon last fall. The senior from Reno contributed, too, making 36 tackles, including two sacks. Whitlock will able able to redshirt this fall.
GAME DAY GUIDE: Boise State vs. Troy
Colorado State has thrown down the gauntlet in the 2017 Mountain West race. The Rams opened their new on-campus stadium Saturday with a 58-27 rout of Oregon State before a crowd of 37,583. I saw a lot of empty seats in the end zone, but that’s beside the point. It was a festive day in Fort Collins, and the Rams looked absolutely potent, rolling up 525 yards (334 of it from the arm of quarterback Nick Stevens). CSU picked off Beavers QB Jake Luton, the former Idaho backup, three times, one of them a 44-yard pick-six by Tre Thomas. The Rams certainly have Colorado’s attention this week—maybe even Alabama’s three weeks from now? Maybe?
If you just check one side of the box score, College of Idaho’s season opener looked pretty good. The Coyotes forced four Montana Western turnovers, gave up just 16 points, and held the Bulldogs to 81 yards rushing and 2.1 yards per carry. But the Yotes offense got nothing out of three different trips to the red zone, and Montana Western held on for a 16-14 victory. Two of C of I’s fumble recoveries came inside the Bulldogs’ 30-yard line but produced no points. Senior safety Nate Moore had a big day for the Yotes, logging 16 tackles.
It’s apparent that Kellen Moore is on the ropes as the No. 2 quarterback in Dallas. Against Oakland Saturday night, Cooper Rush was first off the bench after Dak Prescott and was lights-out again, going 12-of-13 for 115 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cowboys past the Raiders 24-20. Kellen attempted four mopup passes, completing two for 10 yards. The question now becomes: will Dallas keep three quarterbacks on its 53-man roster? There was one big NFL highlight involving a former Bronco over the weekend. Donte Deayon scooped a deflected pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown in the Giants’ 32-31 win over the Jets. Deayon was flashing that trademark smile as he crossed the goal line. He may yet end up sticking this year in the Big Apple.
Former Boise State star Graham DeLaet had to withdraw Friday from The Northern Trust when his perpetually questionable back flared up on him. But wow, didn’t DeLaet realize what a devastating effect it would have on a certain fan base? One person tweeted, “Second week in a row I've had a guy withdraw after one round of PGA. I'm getting pretty sick of this @DraftKings stuff! Thx @GrahamDeLaet!” The former Boise State star replied: “I don't care about your fantasy golf. I care about my health. Get a life.” You go, Graham.
The annual Western Idaho Fair road trip has been a struggle for the Boise Hawks, but there was fresh air yesterday on a warm afternoon in Vancouver, BC. The Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with their biggest road win of the season, a 9-1 clobbering of the Vancouver Canadians. Five Boise pitchers shut out the Canadians until the bottom of the ninth, and Luis Castro hit the team’s 61st home run of the season. The Hawks are now 4-8 on their marathon journey, with three games to go before returning home Friday.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…August 28, 2014:
The earliest game in Boise State history results in the earliest loss, a 35-13 defeat at the hands of Ole Miss in the debut of new Bronco coach Bryan Harsin at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta. The Rebels were clinging to a 7-6 lead at the end of the third quarter before exploding for four touchdowns in the fourth. Jay Ajayi logged 12 receptions, the most ever by a Bronco running back. Grant Hedrick completed 36 passes, second-most in school history, but he also threw four interceptions. Shane Williams-Rhodes had 14 catches, tied for third on the Boise State single-season list, but they covered only 53 yards as the Bronco offense had trouble going vertical.
(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.)