Wednesday, August 16, 2017.
On September 22, Virginia will visit the blue turf to play Boise State. The Cavaliers will be coming from Charlottesville, laced with tragedy, thanks to last weekend’s repulsive visitors to that city—white supremacists who have no place in our society. Virginia players try to keep their eyes on football amidst the chaos. They should be greeted by applause at Albertsons Stadium next month. Cavs All-America linebacker Micah Kiser, a team leader, has brought the team together for a display of unity according to theundefeated.com. Said Kiser: “There are Polynesian kids, Asian kids, black, white, Latino (on this team) and we want to show we can come together for one common goal, to set an example for the city.” They’ve taken a unity photo to send out over social media and are working on their message.
Listen to Kiser. “By staying together, we can show and we can prove that that is stronger than whatever hate might be out there. We’ve talked a lot about removals of statues and what does it mean. From how I see it, you can’t erase history. But, at the same time, there needs to be a conversation. Well, what does slavery mean at UVA? What did the Civil War mean to the state of Virginia? How did that affect us? How does this connect us?” Kiser said the Cavaliers want to play hard this season, because they’re not just representing their school. “We’re representing Charlottesville,” Kiser said.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall is, naturally, impressed. “Here’s conflict and here’s hate and here are these other issues with free speech ironed in there somewhere, and here are these young people who really would like to do something,” said the former BYU head coach entering his second season at Virginia. “They don’t want to sit on their hands, they want to act appropriately but also they want to make a difference. They want to model unity and tolerance, something they’ve worked on as a team.”
One reason Boise State is seen as surprisingly deep at linebacker is true freshman Riley Whimpey, who has quietly put together an impressive fall camp. Whimpey, the younger brother of former Utah State Aggies Kevin and Kyle Whimpey, is back into football after a two-year LDS mission, and his athleticism has apparently returned. He performed a standing backflip in street clothes for fans at the Bronco Athletic Association Kickoff Dinner Monday night. The 6-1, 212-pounder amassed a staggering 172 tackles during his senior year at San Clemente High in California. Whimpey could play as a true freshman—at the very least, he has “special teams specialist” written all over him.
San Diego State was supposed to scrimmage last night. Instead, the Aztecs held the practice that had been cancelled Monday due to an outbreak of chickenpox. There are five confirmed cases now, and 10 more players were seen at a building adjacent to practice yesterday wearing surgical masks and gloves. San Diego State thoroughly cleaned its weight room and locker room and disinfected them and believes that’ll do the trick. SDSU can’t lose too many more players to the pox—recovery time is 1-3 weeks, and the Aztecs face Dan Hawkins and UC Davis in 17 days. News of chickenpox on the team first broke after Saturday night's practice when it was revealed that two players had contracted the disease. So far it’s been confined to the Aztecs’ football team.
College of Idaho’s running game was downright weird last year—and the Coyotes are looking to change course in fall camp. In 2016, no C of I running back rushed for more than 400 yards, and the quarterbacks recorded over half of the team’s 442 carries on the season. The backs recorded a Frontier Conference-leading 5.4 yards per carry, but injuries and game situations dictated a lack of attempts. Count on this season being different. Fifth-year senior Zach Garzoli, one of the original “year-zero” Yotes, is back and healthy. Also returning is University of Utah transfer and Centennial High grad Mike Kirby, who was on a roll early last season until an injury ended his season before October began.
There was drama as the Boise Hawks wrapped up their homestand last night. The Hawks and Everett were knotted 4-4 in the bottom of the 11th inning when Boise got a 5-4 walk-off victory as Daniel Jipping scored on a throwing error. That’s it for Hawks home games until September. This year’s Western Idaho Fair road trip is the longest one I can remember—a 15-game odyssey beginning tonight at Salem-Keizer. Earlier in the day yesterday, Boise’s Bret Boswell was named Northwest League Player of the Week. The Colorado Rockies’ eight-round draft pick and former Texas Longhorn batted .500 from August 7-13, with four home runs, two doubles and a triple. Boswell also scored 12 runs and drove in nine.
A Las Vegas sportswriter called me out for a blip in my column last week about UNLV seeking out neutral-court games—which carry more weight with the NCAA Tournament committee this season—down the street from the Thomas & Mack Center. Well, we like to prod the Rebels, and I exaggerated a bit. UNLV doesn’t have four neutral site games in Las Vegas, they have two. The matchups against Rice and OleMiss/Utah are part of the MGM Grand Main Event, and the ones versus Oral Roberts and Illinois are home games that were moved due to the National Finals Rodeo occupying Thomas & Mack.
Brian Humphreys will chalk it up to experience—and there have been some great ones this year. The Boise State sophomore from Vancouver, WA, improved his game slightly yesterday in the second round of the US Amateur Championship. Humphreys shot a four-over 74 at Bel Air in Los Angeles after a 76 at Riviera on Monday. He missed the cut for match play.
This Day In Sports…August 16, 1954:
A concept some thought was unworkable is born, as the first issue of Sports Illustrated is published. On the cover was one of the top young sluggers of that era, Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves. At the time he was overshadowing another young slugger in his rookie season: starting rightfielder Hank Aaron, who would his a modest 13 home runs that year.
(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.)