Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: Kellen settles seamlessly into SoCal

It’s always interesting to hear those national Kellen Moore narratives. The one at The Athletic from Daniel Popper is one of the best I’ve seen. Before Moore’s wife Julie and the kids moved out to L.A. from Dallas last winter, the former Boise State great had some time on his hands, and he and Chargers coach Brandon Staley got together for nightly one-on-one football cram sessions. Staley learned that Moore has been doing such things since he was a little guy. The meetings reminded Staley of similar get-togethers with Rams coach Sean McVay when he became McVay’s defensive coordinator in 2019. “The parallels were crazy,” Staley told Popper.

Unlike many Dallas fans, Staley admired Moore’s play-calling after having to compete against it. Last summer, the Cowboys and Chargers held joint practices. It was then that Staley realized he and Kellen were on the same page. Staley hired Moore less than 24 hours after he had parted ways with Dallas in January. Kellen is going to be free to be himself in L.A. after persevering through an “arranged marriage” with Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. Popper predicts Moore’s performance as Chargers O.C. this year to be the “deciding factor in the team’s 2023 season.” And oh by the way, Moore’s quarterback, TV commercial co-star Justin Herbert, just agreed to a five-year, $262.5 million contract extension.


The sidebar to last week’s Mountain West preseason poll is the fact that Boise State has been picked to win its conference or division for the 16th consecutive year. That’s every season since 2007, when Hawaii went on to play in the Sugar Bowl. If you want to check the pulse of the program, that’s it. The Broncos are far removed from Kellen Moore and his 50-3 record, and the No. 2 ranking in the polls in 2010, and the Chris Petersen era in general. But man, enjoy the ride. How is Boise State not the envy of every other team in the Mountain West? Wouldn’t Wyoming like to be picked first even once? Wouldn’t San Diego State like Albertson Stadium’s attendance? Wouldn’t Fresno State like the Broncos’ consistency? Reminder: Boise State has 25 straight winning seasons, the longest streak in the country.


If you don’t think this is going to be an interesting season for the Boise State defense, check out the All-Mountain West team from Pro Football Focus. Like the official Mountain West list, PFF has linebacker D.J. Schramm as the Broncos’ only first-team pick. But PFF goes three teams deep, and there is nary a Boise State rep on the second team or third team. Not one. But really, who was snubbed? By the end of the year, we’ll probably be saying safety Rodney Robinson, because he has all-conference written all over him despite being under-the radar right now. Robinson recorded 48 tackles and three interceptions last season. Only JL Skinner, with four last year, has had more in a season than Robinson since Darian Thompson and Donte Deayon were seniors eight years ago.


Since when has the offensive line been a top story going into Boise State fall camp? Coach Andy Avalos got some attention when he said last week at Mountain West Media Days that Cade Beresford will remain at right tackle this season. That’s big, because left tackle is kind of an important spot. The natural assumption is that redshirt freshman Kage Casey will take that job, but Avalos said Casey will compete with others there. You have to like Casey’s chances, though. People keep talking about the 6-5, 295-pounder from Clackamas High in Oregon. Casey is indeed a redshirt freshman even though he got into five games for the Broncos last season. For the first time last year, bowl games didn’t count against the limit. Avalos also said Mason Randolph will start camp at center, with Ben Dooley and Garrett Curran as the guards.


It’s news when a quarterback commits to Boise State. The Broncos have one now in the 2024 recruiting class with Tuesday’s verbal from three-star QB Kaleb Annett of Newport Harbor, CA. Greg Biggins of 247 Sports says Annett was the Broncos’ No. 1 target. He’s a 6-3, 185-pounder who was a backup at Corona Del Mar High last year and is expected to explode as a senior. Annett says he has a great connection with offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan—a necessity. His prospects for playing time at Boise State are down the line. Taylen Green is only a sophomore, and whoever survives the backup battle between Maddux Madsen and CJ Tiller will be waiting in the wings.


There’s a quarterback of the future in Pocatello, and his name is Harsin. Eagle High quarterback Davis Harsin, the son of former Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, has committed to Idaho State and new Bengals coach Cody Hawkins. Cody, of course, is the son of Dan Hawkins, who was the Broncos’ head man during Bryan Harsin’s formative years as a coach. Another constant is Jeff Pitman, who’s known Davis since he was born. Pitman’s kind of a senior strength and conditioning consultant this season at ISU. He was the Broncos strength and conditioning coach from the time Bryan Harsin was a senior quarterback through the Dan Hawkins era—and again when Harsin returned in 2014 to become head coach.


Big Sky coaches and media have their differences in the conference’s preseason polls. Montana State is the dominant favorite to win the league in both polls. Idaho is picked second by the media but only fifth by Big Sky coaches after the Vandals impressive turnaround last season that led them into the FCS Playoffs. Considering the massive talent returning, I like the media’s take on this. Also from Big Sky Media Days in Spokane, Vandals Consensus All-America wide receiver Hayden Hatten has been named the conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Last season, Hatten set the Idaho single-season touchdown record with 16 and the single-game TD record with four. He now has 24 career touchdown receptions, just three short of Jerry Hendren’s 54-year-old Vandals record of 27.


Denver Broncos beat reporter Mike Klis tweeted Sunday that former Boise State star JL Skinner has officially avoided the PUP list (“physically unable to perform”) and will be good to go as the Broncos opened training camp with veterans Tuesday. Skinner, Denver’s sixth-round draft pick this spring, reported with rookies last Wednesday, about six months after suffering a torn pectoral muscle during pre-draft training. That kept him out of the NFL Combine and Boise State’s Pro Day. And it definitely affected Skinner’s draft status, as he was projected to go in the third round or higher. He’s expected to back up Caden Sterns at strong safety with the Broncos, competing with veteran Kareem Jackson for the No. 2 spot. Add in Skinner’s special teams ability, and it would be a surprise if he didn’t make the 53-man roster.


Now that Boise’s Sofia Huerta has become the first Idahoan to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team in the World Cup, we’ll follow her game-by-game from here on out. Huerta and her fellow Americans face The Netherlands in their second World Cup tilt tonight at 7pm (Thursday New Zealand time) in Wellington. Huerta came on for Emily Fox in the 84th minute in Game 1, the 3-0 win over Vietnam last Friday night (our time). She’s really in a leadership position despite her newness. Huerta is 30, whereas the average age of the U.S. team is 28. She gambled when she left Mexico’s national team. It has paid off.


A peak at the Pioneer League’s second half standings makes Boise Hawks fans want to look away. After a strong first half, the Hawks started 1-5 out of the gate in the second after being handled at home by the Great Falls Voyagers. Now the Hawks have to try to right the ship on the road, and Tuesday night in Ogden, and they answered the bell by rallying for an 8-5 win over the Raptors.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.

July 26, 2013, 10 years ago today: Russell Knox shoots the fifth 59 in (now Korn Ferry) Tour history in the second round of the Albertsons Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club. The 28-year-old Scotsman missed a chance to break the tour record when he parred the final two holes. Knox carded two eagles and eight birdies in his bogey-free round. He would, however, finish tied for 12th. Kevin Tway who won the tournament two days later on the first hole of a playoff over Spencer Levin. It was the first time the event had been played in July.

(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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