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Thursday, January 7, 2021.
The drip-drip-drip of Air Force’s offense bothered Boise State in spurts Wednesday night, but the Broncos ultimately overwhelmed the Falcons in a 78-59 win in ExtraMile Arena. It was Boise State’s ninth win in a row, one short of the school record. The Falcons were hanging around early in the second half and trailed by 10 with 13 minutes to go. Then a Derrick Alston monster jam-plus-one, followed by one of Max Rice’s four three-pointers, ignited a 25-5 run, and it was over. Defense, as it has been so often this season, was the catalyst. The Broncos coaxed three shot-clock violations out of Air Force, made eight steals and scored 22 points off turnovers. That got the offense going. Boise State is now 5-0 in the Mountain West, tied with Utah State atop the standings.
While Alston was making a pair of free throws to give Boise State its first lead with 14½ minutes left in the first half, Devonaire Doutrive came on the floor for the first time as a Bronco. Doutrive’s first stat was an offensive rebound. His first points came on a drive and an acrobatic layup at the 11-minute mark. It was the first time the Arizona transfer had played in a game in well over a year. You can call it getting his feet wet. For the game, Doutrive scored eight points with three rebounds, a steal and an assist. The big story Wednesday night was Doutrive’s fellow Broncos off the bench. He and his reserve mates put up 35 points, the rest of it coming from Marcus Shaver Jr. with 15 and Rice with 12. The Broncos and Air Force play again Friday night.
THERE’S A REASON CHOATE’S IN THE MIX
Did you see this? “Early word on Boise State’s search focused squarely on Kellen Moore and Andy Avalos. However, Jeff Choate, the Montana State head coach, has emerged as potentially the top target for the same position at Boise State sources tell FootballScoop.com.” Okay, nothing I can say will back those despondent Broncos fans away from the ledge. Social media blew up after this Wednesday afternoon, and not in a good way. But Choate has rebuilt a moribund Bobcats program and took it to the FCS semifinals last season. He has become a solid, solid head coach. And word is he has the backing of not only a legion of players from the glory years of 2006-11, but former coach Chris Petersen himself. If it goes that direction, that has to count for something.
IT WOULD BE UNFORTUNATE, BUT NOT UNEXPECTED
He’s still Boise State’s interim football coach, even as there are conflicting reports that Spencer Danielson, the Broncos’ defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator, is headed to Auburn to join Bryan Harsin’s staff. It would be a big loss for the program if it does happen, but it was a lot to hope for to think Harsin wouldn’t try to scoop up Danielson. He is one of the most energetic, on-point young coaches in the country, in my opinion. Talk about a rapid climb—just three years ago, Danielson was a grad assistant working with the STUD position, including Curtis Weaver, who ended up leading the Mountain West in sacks. That earned Danielson a promotion to full-time staffer in 2018. Sources say it ain’t over yet.
HERITAGE RECOGNITION FOR SHAKIR
In an era of football where players of Polynesian descent are prominent, this is a significant honor for Boise State’s Khalil Shakir. The junior wide receiver is a finalist for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year, an award that goes to the player with that ancestry “who epitomizes great ability and integrity.” Shakir, a Broncos captain, has both. In this COVID-shortened season, he had 52 receptions for 719 yards and six touchdowns—plus 148 rushing yards. Shakir was one of only two players nationally with 700 yards receiving and 100 yards rushing this season. The award’s winner will be announced next Tuesday.
NO REST FOR LVE
This is going to be a crucial off-season for Leighton Vander Esch. Injuries have pestered the pride of Riggins since his outstanding rookie year in 2018. A high ankle sprain is the latest malady—it happened against the 49ers December 20 and forced Vander Esch to miss the final two games of the season (he was out for four games earlier in the fall due to a broken collarbone). LVE made 60 tackles this season after collecting 72 in 2019 and 140 in his magnificent rookie year. So is Vander Esch discouraged about the future? Are you kiddin’ me?
Vander Esch told David Helman of DallasCowboys.com, “People can say what they want to say, but it’s the game of football and the ones that can be resilient and they can bounce back from that and just keep continuing to grind, day after day no matter what happens, good things are going to happen eventually.” So what’s LVE going to do about it? “I’m going to train my frickin’ butt off this offseason,” he said. “I’m not really going anywhere. I’m going home for two weeks and I’m coming right back. I’m going to be here training all the way through February, March and April. That’s just what it is. I’m already looking forward to it. I’m on a mission.”
CRUSHING NIGHT IN COLORADO SPRINGS
Back to hoops—Air Force was a doormat in Mountain West women’s basketball not so long ago. Boise State is the four-time defending MW Tournament champion. But it was the Broncos who found themselves in the woodshed after a 76-52 rout at the academy Wednesday night. Boise State can usually survive a 39 percent shooting night, but the Broncos went 0-for-12 from three-point range, missed seven of their 13 free throws and turned the ball over a staggering 25 times. Boise State acrually led 17-14 after the first quarter but was outscored 22-7 by the Falcons in the second. Jade Loville was the only Bronco in double-figures with 16 points. The loss snapped the team’s 13-game winning streak dating back to last season.
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January 7, 2010: Boise State’s “Decade of Dominance” is capped with a final ranking of No. 4 in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll following a 14-0 season. Alabama was crowned national champion after beating runnerup Texas in the BCS title game earlier that night. The Longhorns, Florida and Boise State were tightly-bunched in the second, third and fourth spot in the polls. Most of the attention, however, was already focused on what might happen the following season, as the Broncos were set to return all but one starter from their 17-10 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl win over TCU.
(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.)