Thursday, August 24, 2017.
Maybe this will clear up in time for kickoff nine days from now, but the uncertainty over Alexander Mattison’s status at running back at Boise State is causing some fingers to be crossed around town. The consensus that it’s not a disciplinary issue is probably accurate (certainly it’s not an eligibility thing—Mattison is a 4.0 student). So let’s suppose he’s “nicked up,” as they say. If he’s not 100 percent for Troy, that puts a lot of pressure on Ryan Wolpin and/or Robert Mahone and/or Drake Beasley. Because a downhill running game is supposed to be what makes the Bronco offense a cut above this season. And the Trojans, with nine starters back from an offense that averaged 430 yards and 33.7 points per game, are going to score some points on the other side. The Boise State “O” needs to be multi-dimensional.
Looking ahead to 24th-ranked Washington State September 9 would be disastrous for Boise State. But coach Bryan Harsin should be able to keep the Broncos grounded versus a Troy team coming off a 10-3 season and a bowl victory. Harsin faced Troy in 2013 when he was head coach at Arkansas State. The Trojans, ultimately a 6-6 team that season, came into Jonesboro and took the Red Wolves to the wire. ASU scored with less than four minutes left to get by with a 41-34 victory. Today, Troy is on the rise and building a brand of its own. Yesterday the Trojans announced a home-and-home series with Mississippi State in 2026-27.
The future is now—maybe—for the Mountain West. The conference believes digital delivery of games will dominate in the future, and they’re trying out an intriguing new platform this season. Six Mountain West games (none of them involving Boise State) will be telecast on Facebook this season, produced by a new multi-platform sports network called Stadium. MW commissioner Craig Thompson acknowledges that it could be the bee’s knees—or an abomination. But Thompson wants to find out now rather than later. “It’s a testing period for the next 18 to 24 months for the Mountain West as we get ready for that new TV package,” said Thompson yesterday on KTIK’s Idaho SportsTalk. First up on Facebook is Dan Hawkins and UC Davis taking on San Diego State a week from Saturday.
The 2016 season is just two days away for three Mountain West teams. Colorado State’s sparkling new on-campus stadium will be christened Saturday afternoon when the Rams host Oregon State in college football’s opening game. CSU has sold 15,000 season tickets, eclipsing (gotta use that verb while we can) its previous record of 11,500. San Jose State hosts the aforementioned South Florida. The Spartans are definitive underdogs, but USF could be a fish out of water in a half-empty stadium in the Bay Area. And the Mountain West will point out that it is 6-5 versus AAC schools. Also, Hawaii tries to pick up where it left off in 2016 with a trip to UMass (speaking of fish out of water). It’s the farthest east the Warriors have traveled in program history.
Former Boise State left tackle Charles Leno Jr. has had to earn his keep in his three NFL seasons, and now it pays off. Leno has been given a four-year, $38 million contract extension by the Chicago Bears, with $21.5 million guaranteed. That is really something for a guy who was drafted in the seventh round in 2014. But since then, Leno has started 29 straight games. The Chicago Tribune calculates that he’ll now be he 14th-highest paid left tackle in the NFL.
Idaho kept things closer to the vest down the stretch of fall camp this year, so it’s hard to get a handle on how the wide receiver spot is reloading. Quarterback Matt Linehan has been identifying his go-to guys after the Vandals lost four of their top five pass-catchers from last season. Alfonso Onunwor, with 39 receptions in 2016, is the only one back. Earlier this month, coach Paul Petrino said Jacob Sannon, who made 28 grabs last year, “is having an unbelievable fall camp.” Idaho’s fall camp session wrapped up with a scrimmage last Saturday—now it’s on to the opener a week from tonight against Sacramento State in the Kibbie Dome.
One of the great holiday events locally from 2011-14—be it Thanksgiving or Christmas—was the Boise State-Idaho non-conference men’s basketball game, with the first one played at the Idaho Center and the last three in CenturyLink Area. It ain’t happening these days, but the Vandals are headed to Downtown Boise just before Christmas anyway. The Idaho women will face Eastern Oregon, followed by the Vandal men against UC Irvine in a CenturyLink Arena doubleheader on December 21. The Anteaters have five straight 20-win seasons and made the NCAA Tournament in 2015. The Vandals counter with one of their most prolific scorers ever, senior guard Victor Sanders.
If all facets of Graham DeLaet’s game were as good as his greens-in-regulation performance, he’d surely have some PGA Tour victories under his belt. As it is, the Boise State product has qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs again, and he’ll get it started today in The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks Club, NY. DeLaet is always near the top in greens-in-regulation (landing on the green at least two strokes less than par for that hole). He’s currently ranked 13th on the tour in that category.
Last night, for the first time in major league history, a no-hitter was broken up by a walk-off home run. And there was a former Boise Hawk at both ends of the story. Rich Hill of the L.A. Dodgers had taken the bid for his first no-hitter into the bottom of the 10th inning of a scoreless game in Pittsburgh after having a perfect game spoiled by an error in the ninth. The leadoff batter was Josh Harrison, who hit a homer into the first row of seats in left field, winning the game 1-0 for the Pirates in shocking fashion. Hill was the first pitcher in 22 years to take a no-hit bid into extra innings. He played in Boise in 2002 and 2003; Harrison was a Hawk in 2008. This year’s edition of the Hawks topped Hillsboro 5-1 last night, with Bret Boswell clubbing his 11th home run of the season.
This Day In Sports…August 24, 2012, five years ago today:
The grand opening of Dona Larsen Park, the new football home for Boise city high schools, Boise State track and field and Boise State softball. The Boise Braves christened the facility at the location of the old East Junior High School with a 38-24 win over the rival Borah Lions. Boise, Borah, Capital and Timberline were finally able to depart the increasingly cavernous Bronco Stadium after more than 40 years for the cozier confines of Dona Larsen. The site was also the home of the old Public School Field, where the city high schools and Boise Junior College played their games until 1940.
(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.)