Scott Slant: The boxes left unchecked

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Wednesday Weekly: September 7, 2022.

The narrative coming out of Boise State fall camp included a lengthy partyline checklist. But there are so many blank boxes. Hank Bachmeier taking a quantum leap forward with the same offensive coordinator for the second straight year? Not checked. Improved running game (with added depth and a better offensive line)? Not checked. A committee at wide receiver compensating for the loss of Khalil Shakir? Not checked. A secondary that could rival that of Boise State a decade ago? Not checked. A solid one-two punch in the kicking game? Not checked. We should be kind and toss in the word “yet.” But there wasn’t a lot of “yet” apparent in the 34-17 loss at Oregon State. Who’d a thunk the Broncos would be facing a picking-up-the-pieces scenario in Game 2 Friday night at New Mexico?


People have been pulling hard for a Bachmeier senior breakout. He’s a great kid, and he’s been a big part of Boise State’s program. No one could have foreseen a meltdown reminiscent of Jared Zabransky’s at Georgia in 2005 in the crushing loss at Oregon State. And being pulled early in the second quarter was demoralizing. Can Hank recover like Z did? There are challenges. Zabransky was only a junior in his second year as a starter—Bachmeier is a senior in his fourth. He doesn’t have much time. We don’t even know if he’s still the starter, although it would be hard to imagine Bachmeier not getting another chance Friday night.


Will it be Bachmeier or Green at New Mexico? If it’s Green, Boise State will be looking for measurable improvement from Game 1 to Game 2. To be sure, Green’s 74-yard touchdown run at Oregon State, the longest by a Broncos quarterback since Zabransky’s record 85-yarder against Hawaii in 2004, was a thrill. It’s the passing game that will tell the tale, though—making the right reads and the right decisions. Green was 19-of-29 against the Beavers, but for just 155 yards with one interception. That’s only 5.3 yards per attempt amidst a lot of safety valve dump-offs.


As suspect as the Boise State defense was at times in Corvallis, the Broncos could still right the ship on that side of the ball. They weren’t terrible against the run, especially in the first half when they yielded 35 yards. The lack of pressure on Chance Nolan was discouraging (zero sacks), but the OSU offensive line looked the part. Tyreque Jones was turned around a couple times in his new nickel spot, though, and it was fairly shocking to see the secondary allow seven completions of 15 yards or more. A plethora of teachable moments this week. The brightest spot on defense versus the Beavers was at a position many fretted about going into the season. D.J. Schramm, in the first start of his career as a fifth-year senior, logged 11 tackles at weakside linebacker.


Boise State has played at New Mexico four times since becoming a member of the Mountain West. Twice the Broncos have played with fire. In 2012, the team that would tie for the conference championship would escape Albuquerque with a 32-29 win. The 2014 squad that captured the Fiesta Bowl needed 60 points to come away with a 60-49 victory in a game it trailed into the fourth quarter. And everyone knows what happened in 2015 on the blue turf when the Broncos went in as 30-point favorites. No assumptions can be made right now, especially with Lobos defensive coordinator Rocky Long licking his chops watching Boise State game film this week.


Now we’ll find out what effect Khalil Shakir’s strong preseason will have on his role in Buffalo as the Bills open the 2022 season Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl champion L.A. Rams in SoFi Stadium. Not only did the fifth-round draft pick out of Boise State snag all eight of his targets covering 151 yards in exhibition games, he also notched a 90.0 receiving grade when lined up in the slot, third-highest among all wide receivers in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Shakir was also the league leader in catches of 15 or more yards with six. Hopefully that will translate into playing time when the popcorn’s poppin’. There’s a consensus on Shakir: he fell much too far in the NFL Draft four months ago.


Derek Carr is finally getting elite NFL quarterback money, with that three-year, $121.5 million contract extension with the Las Vegas Raiders in place. So now that Carr and his former Fresno State teammate Davante Adams are reunited with the Raiders and about to debut together against the L.A. Chargers Sunday afternoon, let’s look back on how they did in two games together against Boise State a decade ago. They were pretty good. Carr threw for 266 yards in 2012 on the blue turf, with his only touchdown pass one of Adams’ five catches in a 20-10 loss to the Broncos. In 2013, Carr threw 60 times and and completed 39, covering 460 yards with four TDs. Adams caught 12 of them with one TD as the Bulldogs ended eight years of frustration against Boise State in a 41-40 win in Fresno.


It’s going to be hard to tell how far Idaho has really come under new coach Jason Eck for a while yet. The Vandals have to face another Power 5 foe Saturday when they travel to Indiana. But things sure did look promising in the 24-17 loss to Washington State in the opener. The defense was opportunistic, forcing three Cougars fumbles and getting a scoop-and-score on the first one. The passing game had life under quarterback Gevani McCoy, who went 21-of-32 for 212 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Indiana is coming off a come-from-behind 23-20 win over Illinois in its opener.


College of Idaho enjoys an unusually early week off after a tone-setting 21-18 win last Saturday at Rocky Mountain College. It was a road performance the Coyotes can build on. The Yotes have settled on a starting quarterback, Boise State transfer Andy Peters, and he came up big when he had to despite completing just 51 percent of his throws. Peters hit Jon Schofield on a 64-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that provided enough cushion to beat the NAIA’s 19th-ranked team. C of I, which is 2-0 for the second time in three seasons, travels to Southern Oregon a week from Saturday.


The Boise Hawks’ excruciating 2022 season is coming to a close this week with a six-game series against the vaunted Missoula Paddleheads, a team they just can’t seem to beat. The Hawks are 0-11 versus Missoula this year after falling 13-7 Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium in Game 2 of the set. The loss was Boise’s sixth in a row, leaving its record at 28-64. Nevertheless, the Hawks are on track for their best season attendance number of the 21st century with an average of 3,173 fans per game.

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September 7, 2011:  Four days after Boise State smothers Georgia 35-21 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, Bronco senior quarterback Kellen Moore appears on one of two regional covers of Sports Illustrated.  Moore had helped exorcise the demons of BSU’s devastating loss at Georgia in 2005 by dissecting the Bulldogs on 28-of-34 passing for 261 yards and three touchdowns, surpassing 100 TD passes for his career.  The Boise State defense did its part by recording six sacks on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.  It was the Broncos’ first-ever win over an SEC school.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four 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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