Monday, August 29, 2016.
It’s Game Week for Boise State, with quarterback Brett Rypien looking forward to his first season opener this Saturday morning at Louisiana-Lafayette. A year ago right now his shirt was red, figuratively, as Ryan Finley was prepping to start the Washington game. Then came Game 3 against Idaho State, and a five-yard scramble by Finley in the first quarter. The result was a broken bone in Finley’s ankle that ended his season. All Rypien did after that was throw for 3,353 yards and 20 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His commitment to improve this season is well-documented. In five days Rypien tries to go out and walk the walk. This time it’s his team from the get-go.
Not to be forgotten from that 52-0 win over the Bengals was the fact that Tommy Stuart was first man in after Finley’s injury. The Boise State staff appeared to be willing to roll with Stuart until Finley returned to the lineup—until it was determined at halftime that he wasn’t coming back. The Broncos have even more faith in Stuart this season. He’s liked by his teammates and is, by all accounts, a great locker room guy. In 2015, Stuart threw for 114 yards and one touchdown, the one to Holden Huff against ISU that saw the elated Stuart almost come out of his shoes. He also brings a different style to the table—he rushed for 107 yards (excluding sack yardage) and three TDs last season.
Boise State really should have three quarterbacks ready. It always has. The only choice for a No. 3 on the roster right now is true freshman Jake Constantine, who has a self-proclaimed chip on his shoulder after being lightly-recruited on the heels of a stellar senior year in Camarillo, CA (3,988 yards, 51 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 72.2 completion percentage). The Broncos will, of course, try to redshirt Constantine. How about Thomas Sperbeck in an emergency? Sperbeck has the third-most passing yards of any returning Boise State player with 89. And he has two career TDs, including the four-yarder to Rypien at UNLV last year. Sperbeck played quarterback in high school at Jesuit in the Sacramento area.
Hawaii’s offense looked serviceable Friday night (Saturday afternoon Australian time), but its defense did not as the college football season opened with Cal’s 51-31 thumping of the Rainbow Warriors in the Sydney Cup. Hawaii allowed 630 total yards, and 441 through the air from the Bears’ Texas Tech transfer, Davis Webb. Despite missing three players at the last minute due to suspension, the Warriors gained 482 yards of total offense, but they turned the ball over five times (Cal had no turnovers).
Idaho’s opener against Montana State is three days away, and the Vandals will carry a USA Today preseason second-team All-American into battle. Senior Austin Rehkow, he of the multi-purpose foot, was named to the USA Today squad as a punter. Rehkow was seventh in the nation in punting last season and was second in 2014, when he was a Ray Guy Award finalist. As a freshman in 2013, he led the country with a 47.8-yard average. Rehkow is a rarity—last year he was one of only three players in the FBS who handled both punting and placekicking chores for his team.
What would have been Kellen Moore’s biggest opportunity yet was not meant to be. When the former Boise State great’s season was ended by a broken right fibula in a Dallas practice four weeks ago, he had already been anointed Tony Romo’s backup quarterback. And everybody knows Romo’s history with injury. Low and behold, the injury Romo suffered at Seattle Thursday night turned out to be a broken vertabra in his back, and he’s expected to miss 6-10 weeks. Moore could have been under center against the New York Giants September 11, but instead it’ll be fourth-round draft pick Dak Prescott (who, by the way, has had a strong preseason).
Until yesterday, only one of Boise’s “Ribbon of Jewels” network of parks along the Boise River was not named after a prominent city lady. No more, as Municipal Park is now “Kristin Armstrong Municipal Park,” honoring Boise’s three-time Olympic gold medalist. It was Mayor Dave Bieter’s big secret until the veil came down on the park sign during the “Kristin’s Gold Games” celebration at the park. I was wondering why that was chosen as the location. It’s been 19 days since Armstrong won her time trial gold in the final race of her career at the Rio Olympics.
The Boise Hawks wrapped up their Western Idaho Fair road trip yesterday with an 11-8 loss at Hillsboro. The Hops pushed across eight runs in the second inning while sending 11 batters to the plate and hitting two home runs, one of them a grand slam. Boise got to within 8-7 with a five-run seventh, but the Hops would pull away. The defeat does two not-so-pretty things in this, the Hawks’ 30th (not 29th ) year: it eliminates them from the postseason, and it clinches their second straight losing season—and their sixth in the last eight years. The Hawks, now 29-39, return home tonight to open their final homestand of the summer against the Everett AquaSox.
Troy Merritt has some time off between now and October. The former Boise State star missed the cut at The Barclays and won’t advance in the FedExCup Playoffs. Although Merritt was hoping for redemption for a so-so season in the playoffs, he was philosophical about the tour’s postseason going into The Barclays. “I see it as a win-win for me,” Merritt told PGATour.com. “Obviously I’m going to go out there and try to play well and advance in the playoffs but if I don’t get it done—well, I’ve been on the road for seven weeks now so I would get to go home (to Meridian) and see my family. So it is either go on in the playoffs or see my family, both are awesome.” Merritt finished last season 56th in the FedExCup and made it to the BMW Championship, the third leg of the playoffs.
While Merritt dropped to No. 121 in the FedExCup standings, Graham DeLaet was poised to make a little headway when he made the cut at The Barclays. But DeLaet shot 76-73 over the final two rounds and ended up tied for last among those who survived the weekend. The ex-Bronco dropped one spot to No. 120 in the standings, and his season is also over. Again, only the top 100 in the standings following The Barclays advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship.
More weekend wrap: The Boise State women’s soccer team dropped home games over the weekend to Seattle University and UC Irvine. The losses were excruciating, especially Friday’s, when Seattle scored on a penalty kick in the 90th minute to win 1-0. Then the Anteaters got their win over the Broncos, also a 1-0 decision, in overtime yesterday. Also, the Bronco Luncheon Series begins today in the Steuckle Sky Center with football coach Bryan Harsin, gymnastics co-coach Neil Resnick, and New Zealand Olympian gymnast Courtney McGregor, an incoming freshman at Boise State.
This Day In Sports…August 29, 1974:
A defining moment in basketball, as Moses Malone jumps directly to the Utah Stars of the ABA instead of honoring the letter of intent he signed with Maryland. Malone was the first player to go straight to the pros out of high school. Early entries into the NBA Draft became a problem in the mid-1990’s, and the current rule requiring players to be 19 years old and one year out of high school to be eligible for the draft was established in 2005. Malone would go on to win three MVP awards in the NBA and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)