Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: Broncos beat back adversity

Two things put them behind the eight-ball, yet Boise State persevered for a 65-62 victory over Wyoming Tuesday night in ExtraMile Arena. First, Marcus Shaver Jr. went down with a twisted ankle with three minutes left in the first half. Shaver put no weight on his left leg as he was helped to the locker room. Then he emerged after halftime—and played all 20 minutes of the second half despite being clearly less than 100 percent. Then Mladen Armus picked up his third and fourth fouls four seconds apart just over two minutes into the second half and was on the bench for more than 11 minutes while a variety of his teammates had to deal with Cowboys big man Graham Ike, who scored a game-high 19 points. Yet there the Broncos were at the end. Undefeated since the end of November.

During this run, Boise State has proved it can finish. It was evident again Tuesday. The Broncos saw a 10-point lead evaporate in four minutes time late in the game, and the Cowboys took a 60-58 lead with 2:46 remaining. Then Abu Kigab scored Boise State’s final seven points of the game, five of them from the free throw line. There was clutch offense and clutch defense from Kigab. He led the Broncos with 18 points, however, he had fouled out when Boise State needed a final stop with 11 seconds left. The Cowboys’ three-point sharpshooters could not get a look. Wyoming coach Jeff Linder desperately called a timeout when the clock whittled to two seconds. A wild attempt at a three hit the rim at the buzzer. The Broncos now go after a school-record 14-game winning streak Friday night at Fresno State.


Before we let it go, here are some enduring nuggets from Boise State’s 42-37 win at San Diego State. It was the fewest points scored by the Broncos in a victory in more than 41 years—since a 40-38 win at Cal Poly in 1980 (Boise State’s lowest output in a home victory was in a 44-42 win over Weber State in 1974). It was also the first time a Division I team won a game with 42 points or fewer in more than three years and 161 losses. For San Diego State, it was the fewest points scored by the Aztecs in the history of Viejas Arena, and it was their lowest total ever in any Mountain West game.


There were two pieces of Kellen Moore news on Tuesday. First, it was that Moore is not expected to get an offer to be a head coach this year, leaving him as offensive coordinator in Dallas. He had interviewed with Miami, Jacksonville, Minnesota and Denver the past two weeks. Sources said that Kellen was impressive during his interviews, but not quite enough to put him over the top. Then came the news that Sean Payton is retiring as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, and just like that, it was, “Could Saints Hire Cowboys’ Dan Quinn or Kellen Moore to Replace Coach Sean Payton?” (That headline came from Writer Jeremy Brener surmises that “if Moore isn’t the first choice of the other teams, he might be the best of what’s left for New Orleans.” I’d still bet on a fourth season as O.C. in Dallas.


As a new member of the Big 12 in 2023, BYU is going to have too many opportunities and too few dates. Since going independent in 2011, the Cougars have had to cobble together 12-game schedules every season, and they’ve done a good job at it. After next season, BYU will have only three games to fill every year, and Boise State will not be one of them (at least initially). Broncos athletic director Jeramiah Dickey acknowledged in a tweet Tuesday that the 12-game home-and-home series against the Cougars that began in 2012 will end one year early—the matchup this fall between the rivals, scheduled for November 5, will be the last one for a while.


Kekaula Kaniho gets his pro football audition Saturday in the 10th edition of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, to be played at the Rose Bowl Stadium and shown on the NFL Network. Kaniho’s biggest challenge, it would seem, is size—he was listed at 5-11, 188 pounds on the Boise State roster this past season (and that might be generous). But we need look no further than fellow former Bronco Dont’e Deayon to see the possibilities. Deayon, gearing up for the NFC Championship Game Sunday between the Rams and 49ers, is 5-9, 159 pounds. And he’s in his sixth NFL season. Sure, Deayon has spent a lot of time on the practice squad, but he’s been active for the Rams since October and has posted a career-high 25 tackles with two pass deflections. And twice this season he narrowly missed his first NFL interception.


Seth Knothe knows the history of preferred walk-ons at Boise State, and the Bishop Kelly senior has committed to be the next one. Knothe was recruited as a linebacker by the Broncos. He should be able to play a lot of snaps there if his track record at running back for the Knights is any indication. Knothe’s senior year was highlighted by a 42-carry, 308-yard, five-touchdown performance in a win over Middleton. By my count, there are currently 13 Idahoans on the Broncos roster. Five of them came in as scholarship players, and four more earned scholarships after walking on, the most prominent being kicker Jonah Dalmas. There’s always room for more, and Knothe knows that.


It’s mock draft time, and today we look at a two-round version. It’s Dane Brugler’s mock 2.0 at The Athletic, and the Mountain West represents. Brugler has four players from the conference in the second round, starting with Colorado State tight end Trey McBride at the 38th overall pick. No. 47 overall is Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, whose hopes of a first-round shot look like they’ve been derailed by a bad knee. Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma is 51st, and San Diego State edge rusher Cameron Thomas is No. 55. It’s doubtful that Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir will eventually sneak into this group, but I believe his prospects of NFL success are as good as any of them (with the possible exception of McBride).


It takes courage to compete in skeleton, barreling head-first down a frozen track on a small sled at lightning speed. It also takes courage to do that as a gay athlete at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, where LGBTQ activists are considered to be political dissidents and are subjected to surveillance, harassment and imprisonment. Boise’s Andrew Blaser has made history as the first openly gay athlete to make the U.S. Olympic team in skeleton. Blaser has been featured often lately in local media. He was also profiled in LGBTQnation magazine last week. Blaser is very proud to represent.

Blaser will be the only man on the U.S. skeleton team at the Winter Games. Originally a track and field athlete at the University of Idaho, Blaser is currently ranked 28th in the world among male skeleton athletes. He’s currently an assistant track and volleyball coach at Capital High. There are athletic genes in the family—his older brother is Sherm Blaser, the former Boise State tight end and current Owyhee High football coach.


The Idaho Steelheads begin a three-game series tonight against the Kansas City Mavericks, with the organization kicking off its 10th “Pink In The Rink Weekend” for cancer research. The Steelheads will be playing without one of their long-timers, forward Zach Andrusiak, who’s been traded to the Cincinnati Cyclones. The College of Idaho men’s basketball team has a busy week, starting with Tuesday night’s 93-91 loss to Eastern Oregon in La Grande. The Yotes will be home Friday against Corban and Saturday versus Bushnell. And it’s already college baseball season in the valley. (Well, not exactly in the valley.) C of I opens the 2022 campaign Thursday morning at the Calderone Classic in Phoenix against Embry-Riddle. The Yotes have three other games scheduled in the tournament through Saturday.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BACON BOISE…fresh breakfast and brunch every day!

January 26, 1997, 25 years ago today: Brett Favre finally gets Green Bay back to glory, as the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI over the New England Patriots in the pre-Brady/Belichick era, 35-21. But it was Desmond Howard who won Most Valuable Player honors for the Pack, becoming the first special teams player ever to win the award. Howard returned a kickoff 99 yards for a crucial touchdown and amassed 244 punt and kickoff return yards overall. It was the NFC’s 13th straight Super Bowl championship.

(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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