SCOTT SLANT: First line in the sand for 2022


Monday, January 10, 2022.

Boise State is more or less in the same position it was 20 years ago. And maybe that’s a good thing. Longtime college football writer Brett McMurphy of Stadium unveiled his “2022 Ridiculously Way Too Early Top 25” rankings on Sunday, and we see Fresno State at No. 22 and Air Force at No. 24 out of the Mountain West. McMurphy then lists the “next 25” in alphabetical order. San Diego State was there, and Boise State was not. The last time the Broncos weren’t in a preseason top 50 would have to be in 2002, coming off the 8-4 season of 2001. If not before. Coach Dan Hawkins, in his second year, established a “Leave No Doubt” motto for that team, and it responded with a 12-1 campaign and the first FBS Top 25 ranking in school history. It seems to be a good time to resurrect that chip.


It’s premature to assume where he’ll land in Boise State’s pecking order behind Hank Bachmeier among Taylen Green, Colton Fitzgerald and Colt Fulton. But the Broncos’ quarterbacks room appears to be well-stocked now with the Sunday night announcement that Sam Vidlak is transferring from Oregon State. Vidlak, the 2019 Oregon 4A Offensive Player of the Year out of Applegate’s Hidden Valley High, appeared in one game as a freshman at OSU, completing 2-of-3 passes for eight yards in the Beavers’ 42-0 victory over Idaho. Vidlak’s junior year at Hidden Valley was outstanding. He led the state with 3,404 passing yards, and a 76.7 completion percentage, with 44 touchdowns against just three interceptions. Not to forget that Boise State’s 2022 season opener is…at Oregon State.


The Dallas Cowboys’ 51-26 thumping of Philadelphia Saturday night featured a heavy taste of Boise State. No one was more prominent among the Cowboys’ former Broncos than Cedrick Wilson, who posted a career-high 119 receiving yards on five catches, averaging almost 24 yards per grab and scoring two touchdowns. DeMarcus Lawrence contributed a sack and a pass deflection—and he was a lot more dominant than those numbers show. And Leighton Vander Esch, much maligned a month ago, logged six tackles and his third career interception to cap a late-season surge.


Derrick Henry’s loss was not Jeremy McNichols’ gain in Tennessee the past two months—to the extent that the former Boise State star was released on Saturday.  Henry returned to practice last Wednesday, but the star running back wasn’t activated from injured reserve for Sunday’s regular season finale against Houston.  McNichols was waived anyway.  He has appeared in six games since Henry was sidelined with a broken foot more than two months ago and had 34 carries for 118 yards (plus seven catches for 37 yards) in that stretch.  The Titans brought in D’Onta Foreman when Henry was injured, and he’s been the feature back since.  Speculation is that McNichols will end up back on Tennessee’s practice squad, but that hasn’t happened yet.


We’re left to wonder what would have happened between Boise State and Colorado State Friday night after watching the carnage in Viejas Arena on Saturday. San Diego State ripped previously undefeated and 20th-ranked CSU 79-49, the Aztecs’ largest margin of victory ever over a ranked team. Meanwhile, organized team activities resumed Friday for the Broncos. I said Friday that the next Broncos game was Tuesday night against Nevada in Reno. It’s actually Wednesday night, and I’m glad I was wrong. That could be an important 24 hours. The game is still on at this point—it looks like it depends on the Wolf Pack. The Mountain West appears to be confident that it’ll be able to get the games back in. For the Broncos, that means road games at Wyoming and Utah State and the home tilt against the Rams.


The Boise State women did get their game in over the weekend, and it was a symbol of how much this team has improved. The Broncos routed Utah State 71-47 behind 22 points from Dominique Leonidas, her fourth straight game in double figures. The College of Idaho men were able to play one of their scheduled contests, downing Multonomah 90-72 in Caldwell on Friday. C of I’s Paul Wilson scored a career-high 18 points while going 9-for-9 from the field, becoming just the third Yote in history to make at least nine field goals without a miss in a game. The Coyotes women had both of their games postponed, and the Northwest Nazarene men had their one game postponed. The NNU women were able to play, falling 76-72 at home to Alaska Anchorage Friday night.


The Idaho Steelheads turned the tables on Utah over the weekend, picking up two victories over the ECHL Mountain Division leaders. Friday night’s 6-3 decision featured a three-goal outburst in the third period after the Steelheads had been outscored 9-0 in the final stanza in their previous four games. Saturday night, the sellout crowd saw the Steelies’ Chase Zieky came out hot early in the second period with two goals less than one minute apart to forge a 3-1 lead over the Grizzlies. Then after Utah tied it in the third, captain A.J. White netted the only goal of the shootout for a 4-3 Idaho victory.

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January 10, 1982, 40 years ago today: In the Bay Area, it is still known as “The Catch”—Dwight Clark’s fingertip grab of a Joe Montana pass with 51 seconds left in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. It gave San Francisco a 28-27 win over Dallas and symbolized the beginning of a 17-season run of excellence for the 49ers—a period in which they won five Super Bowls (the first one coming two weeks later over the Cincinnati Bengals).

(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 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.) 


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