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Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Now that most of college football’s preseason magazines are on the stands, the issue facing Boise State is ignoring the outside noise. This is the most preseason hype to come the Broncos’ way since before the 2011 season, Kellen Moore’s senior year. Of course, most projections had them in the top 5 at that time. Now Boise State is entering the season with predictions ranging from No. 14 to No. 22, spurred by a senior quarterback who’s essentially a four-year starter and a defense that returns 10 of 11 starters. The buzz can go to players’ heads—current Broncos generally haven’t experienced this. Magazines have faith in the Boise State brand, falling back on the strong finish in 2017 that included the Mountain West and Las Vegas Bowl titles. Bryan Harsin will remind his guys that right now they are winless.
With all this Phil Steele talk predicting Utah State to be the second-most improved team in the country this year—and Boise State’s main challenger in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West—let’s look at what has to happen to make that reality. It’s all about quarterback Jordan Love, who took the starting job from senior Kent Myers as a true freshman late last season. When we delve into Love’s numbers, I feel like it’s Josh Allen déjà vu. Love has a great arm, with three touchdown throws of 70-plus yards last year. But he completed just 55 percent of his passes, with eight TDs versus six interceptions. Love can run, as could Myers before him—and Chuckie Keeton before that. But his pass efficiency rating of only 119.3 speaks volumes. He’ll have to skyrocket this fall.
Mountain West Media Days are just a couple of weeks away now in Las Vegas. New Mexico coach Bob Davie is surely preparing boilerplate answers to questions about his future. Davie was No. 3 on a list of “Ten college football coaches on the hot seat entering this season” from USA Today’s Paul Myerberg over the weekend. “It’s not all about wins and losses for Davie, though last year’s nine-loss finish made it harder and harder to ignore the off-field issues that have plagued his tenure with the Lobos,” writes Myerberg. “In February, he was suspended for 30 days following allegations that he obstructed a rape investigation, made racist comments and physically assaulted players. It almost makes you wonder: Why is he still the head coach?”
First impression of Chandler Hutchison in the NBA? He fits. It was just a Summer League game, but Hutchison looked perfectly comfortable for the Chicago Bulls against Cleveland in his debut Saturday night. Twice he went coast-to-coast after rebounds and finished with layins, and he capped his night with a dunk on a beautiful alley-oop. What you might call “pool play” in Las Vegas wraps up tonight, with Chicago facing Atlanta. In two games, Hutchison is hitting just 33 percent from the field, although he has drained both of his three-points attempts. The former Boise State star has a total of 20 points and 13 rebounds. James Webb III played his third game for Brooklyn last night, registering four points and five rebounds versus Minnesota. Webb’s summer league totals: 19 points, 19 rebounds, 40 percent shooting from the field, and 27 percent from beyond the arc.
Interest in NBA summer league play seems to be at an all-time high, and ESPN.com is all over it, with a list of “one player to watch on every team.” For the Chicago Bulls, it is indeed Hutchison. Writes Mike Schmitz: “I’m looking forward to seeing how Hutchison looks with a different role and NBA spacing, as he was tasked with a lot of shot-creation duties without much shooting around him at Boise State, leading to some ugly possessions. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-plus wingspan and long strides, Hutchison is built for a more free-flowing game. The key will be whether or not he can make enough shots to unlock his slashing potential.” So far so good. And that’s an interesting observation regarding Hutchison’s “shot-creation duties,” suggesting that it’s behind the 4.3 turnovers per game he absorbed last season.
We’re less than a week away from the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term deals with their current NFL teams. Dallas is reportedly scheming on a way to get DeMarcus Lawrence signed to a long-term contract. The former Boise State star really can’t lose—the Cowboys put the franchise tag on him in March, guaranteeing him $17.1 million this season. The two sides will talk this week, but if Lawrence can’t reach a deal with Dallas by next Monday, he plans on playing out the tag and putting together a monster season that will “break the bank” in free agency next winter. Lawrence logged 14.5 sacks last season, second-most in the NFL.
You can’t put a value on international experience, and Boise State sophomore distance runner Emily Venters will make her second appearance with Team USA tonight (this morning, Mountain time) at the IAAF World U20 Championships, in Tampere, Finland. Venters will compete in the 5,000-meters after qualifying for the event with a second-place finish last month at the USA Junior Outdoor Championships in Bloomington, IN. Venters ran for the USA Juniors Team at the Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge in Scotland in January.
The Boise Hawks got a well-rounded look at the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft last night at Salem-Keizer. Joey Bart, selected near the top by the San Francisco Giants last month, was 1-for-4 at the plate, but the one hit was a game-tying fourth-inning grand slam. Bart later had a throwing error that allowed the Hawks to take a 6-5 lead in the seventh. Then, after the Volcanoes tied it in the eighth, Matt Hearn singled in Cole Anderson in the top of the ninth to give Boise a 7-6 win.
We joke sometimes about what a “former Boise Hawk” really is. Does a guy like Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez qualify after all of six at-bats with Boise in 2011? Or do we only count guys like Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, who compiled 505 plate appearances over the 2011 and 2012 seasons? We have both ends of that spectrum in the National League starting lineup for next Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Baez is batting .295 with 17 home runs and 65 runs batted in, while Contreras is hitting .287 with seven homers and 34 RBIs. Oh, and there’s a big name in between: American League Rookie of the Year candidate Gleyber Torres, the Yankees second baseman. Torres, however, is unlikely to recover from his hip strain in time to play in the Midsummer Classic.
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July 10, 1984: On the 50th anniversary of Carl Hubbell’s legendary five consecutive strikeouts in the All-Star Game, it’s a National League déjà vu as the NL beats the American League 3-1 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela struck out the side in the fourth, and Mets rookie Dwight Gooden did the same in the fifth. The six straight strikeouts were an All-Star Game record.
(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.)