Like most coaches, Harsin circles the wagons

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018.

With a showdown versus San Diego State looming, inquiring minds want to know the status of guys like Jabril Frazier, David Moa and Tyler Horton. Well, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin was asked yesterday about an NCAA proposal that would institute injury reports. He doesn’t like it. Harsin’s responses included “Do you want your opponent to know that?” And, “When you’re a dude, and you get hurt, you are crushed.” An off-the-cuff “everyone’s okay” will have to do until we see who’s on the blue turf Saturday. Frazier was injured late in the first half at Wyoming and did not return. Moa was suited up but did not play two weeks after getting a few snaps at Oklahoma State. And Horton was in street clothes, contributing on the sidelines. Frazier and Moa would be important as run-stoppers Saturday. Not that Horton wouldn’t be.

One of the most impressive things about Boise State’s offense at Wyoming was the conversion of long third downs. One of the least impressive things was what contributed to third-and-long. The Broncos rushed 17 times on first down against the Cowboys and gained only 43 yards. Subtract three runs for 18 yards by John Hightower and backup quarterback Chase Cord, and it was 14 first-down carries for 25 yards. That’s 1.8 yards per attempt. Boise State will be playing with fire if it goes that way Saturday against San Diego State. “When we get defeated up front, that’s where we identify problems,” said Harsin. Was Harsin hinting at possible solutions when he praised true freshman Andrew Van Buren yesterday? “He was able to make a run and beat that defender one-on-one,” Harsin said of Van Buren’s 22-yard rush at the end.

Hightower’s big second quarter at Wyoming has landed the Boise State wide receiver on the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll. His one-armed grab of a 31-yard Brett Rypien throw with his shoe flying off at the one-yard line will become the stuff of legend. Hightower came free on a blocked punt on the Cowboys’ ensuing possession, leading to the field goal that gave the Broncos a 24-0 halftime lead. The rest of his game was gravy. He hauled in a perfect strike from Rypien for a 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, finishing the night with four catches for 79 yards. For the season, Hightower has 14 reception for 257 yards and three TDs, averaging 18.4 yards per catch. He also has 70 yards rushing on five carries, including that electric 55-yard touchdown versus UConn.

Speaking of Hightower et al., Harsin volunteered this off the top of his weekly press conference: “Our wide receiver room—really proud of those guys.” Seven wideouts combined for 23 catches, 312 yards and two touchdowns at Wyoming. There was an additional guy included this time, Octavius Evans, who Harsin says is “in the mix” now. Evans was targeted once in the first quarter at Wyoming but couldn’t hold onto the Brett Rypien throw. He finally made his first catch of the season midway through the third quarter, an 11-yarder that went for a first down. Seven players and one ball creates some positive intensity in practice. “Competition pushes everyone to elevate their game,” said Harsin. “In the receivers room, it’s been that way. I think it makes us more explosive when we have multiple (wide receivers) touching the ball.”

Tanner Mangum’s numbers aren’t great for BYU, but there are no loud calls for him to be replaced as the Cougars starting quarterback in favor of true freshman Zach Wilson, the one-time Boise State commit. The Cougars’ stay in the rankings ended after they were thoroughly dominated 35-7 by Washington Saturday night. Mangum has a below-par pass efficiency rating of 113.2 after four games, having thrown for only 732 yards in five games (5.6 yards per attempt) with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Mangum has lost one of his favorite targets for Friday night’s in-state battle against Utah State, as tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau tore his ACL against the Huskies and is out for the season.

You don’t see this every day. Mountain West official Jim Adams has been suspended from his next two college football assignments “in response to his inappropriate conduct toward game management personnel during the Nevada-Air Force football game on Saturday, Sept. 29,” according to a conference release. “Adams’ actions were contrary to the provisions of MW Rule 4–Sportsmanship.” According to Chris Murray, the former Reno Gazette-Journal writer who now works for Nevada Sports Net, Adams pushed a Wolf Pack ball boy. An ESPN account said Adams grabbed him near the neck, shook him and verbally abused him.

It’s being billed as the “Battle of the Domes,” the Idaho-Idaho State game this Saturday in Holt Arena. The Vandals have not been to Pocatello since 1997, when they blanked the Bengals 43-0 under coach Chris Tormey. This may seem kind of second-level to Idaho after 22 years in the FBS, but what’s adrenalin worth? Did the Vandals really get it from Sun Belt opponents like Louisiana-Monroe, Appalachian State or Georgia Southern? There’s juice in this one. Idaho’s going to be a big deal in Pocatello this week. And there’s a lot at stake—ISU is coming off a rout of Northern Arizona and feels it can score some serious points. Really, isn’t this more fun? It can become a rivalry again.

What’s a conference to do? Boise State’s Raimee Sherle has been named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week in women’s soccer for the second straight week. The amazing junior out of Rocky Mountain High scored two more goals Sunday to lead Boise State past Wyoming 2-1 at the Boas Complex. In the process, she tied the Mountain West career record of 41 goals held for the last 18 years by Utah’s Amy Kofoed. Sherle leads the nation in goals this season with 16 and has a commanding five-goal advantage over the next closest player. She has tallied 28 times in her last 20 games.

This ain’t summer league anymore. It’s the next step for Chandler Hutchison, who debuted with the full Chicago roster in the Bulls’ first preseason game Sunday night. Boise State’s first-ever first round NBA Draft pick scored seven points with four rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes during a 128-116 win over New Orleans in the United Center. Hutchison’s former Bronco teammates opened preseason practice yesterday—they’ll hold their annual open scrimmage in Bronco Gym on Friday, October 19 preceding the football game against Colorado State in Albertsons Stadium.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI…partners in profitability!

October 2, 1993, 25 years ago today: Quarterback Tony Hilde burns his redshirt year and makes his first career start as a true freshman against Montana in Missoula. He throws the first of his BSU record 70 career touchdown passes—that one pulled in by Ryan Ikebe, who was burning his redshirt year that day as well. Hilde’s 388 passing yards and 406 in total offense in his collegiate debut would also be his career highs. He would rack up over 9,000 yards passing and over 10,000 in total offense over the next four years, and 26 of his TD passes would go to Ikebe.

(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.)

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