Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: The Broncos’ band is really back together?

The last time we saw George Holani, he was gaining three yards on a rushing attempt in the final two minutes at Washington on Labor Day weekend.Since he basically finished the game against the Huskies (and led the Broncos with 10 carries for 51 yards), we didn’t suspect that we wouldn’t see him in Week 2 against UCF, nor in the ensuing five weeks. Since then, Holani has almost become a forgotten man. While there’s been no definitive declaration, it looks like he will suit up again when Wyoming comes to the blue turf Saturday afternoon. Holani’s career has been a serious of chunks—healthy and unhealthy. This chunk, should it happen, comes at a good time for Boise State. We’ve all seen Ashton Jeanty get up slowly after defenses finally catch him. Jeanty hasn’t missed time, but he could use some periodic rest.


The band really does appear to be back together at Boise State. DJ Schramm is slated to be roaming the middle at linebacker again after being banged up most of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the Broncos try to keep fellow ‘backers Andrew Simpson and Marco Notarainni on the field. Simpson has shown he’s capable of playing EDGE. In addition to Holani on offense, the Broncos have all of their offensive linemen available for the Wyoming game. The key piece there is the return of guard Ben Dooley. He’ll probably displace Roger Carreon in the starting lineup, but Carreon has hardly been a liability. The O-line has had a solid season—now it has a chance at freshness against a renowned Wyoming D that is fourth in the Mountain West in total defense.


We’ve gone through enough Ashton Jeanty stats that half of Bronco Nation has the main ones memorized. But the latest kudos for Boise State’s star running back beg a deeper dive. In the past week, Jeanty has been named first-team Mid-Season All-American by AP, ESPN and CBS Sports. Then he was added to the midseason watch list for the Maxwell Award that goes to the best player in college football. We know that Jeanty is best in the nation right now in a bunch of statistical categories. KTVB’s Jay Tust has some we haven’t seen, like the fact that Jeanty is leading the country in red zone production, too. That includes rushing yards, carries and first downs gained.


There’s a preoccupation with Boise State’s two-quarterback system—and whether it’s working or not. I don’t know that it is, but then again, I don’t know that it can’t. The thing is, that’s not going to determine how things go this Saturday against Wyoming. The stats comparison I had on Sunday Sports Extra was “SMH” material. The Broncos’ offensive production is actually up significantly at the seven-game point this year versus last year: 425 yards per game against 338 a year ago, and 29.7 points per game versus 26.0 last year. But defense…wow. Boise State was allowing only 241 yards and 18.4 points per game at this time in 2022. Now it’s 428 yards and 30.9 points. That is a gigantic difference. The Cowboys offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut. Will it matter? That is the question.


Between Chris Vannini’s ranking of all 130 FBS teams at The Athletic and what the oddsmakers say, well, something’s gotta give in Saturday’s matchup. The Broncos are favored by five points, and ESPN’s FPI index gives them a 61.5 percent chance of winning. But Vannini has the Cowboys ranked No. 34 on his list this week, one spot ahead of Fresno State, with Boise State all the way down at No. 86. That’s a gigantic disparity. Consider that the Cowboys’ only losses are on the road to undefeated team Air Force and on the road to Texas, now ranked No. 7. Wyo is 1-16 all-time against Boise State—maybe that figures into it? The Pokes’ only win over the Broncos came seven years ago in Laramie with Josh Allen.


Raise your hand if you know who besides the Air Force Falcons are still undefeated in Mountain West play. How about the UNLV Rebels? They won on a walk-off field goal last week against Colorado State and are now 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference. UNLV plays at Fresno State Saturday night in the best Mountain West matchup of the week. Coach Barry Odom has done wonders with the Rebels and has them bowl-eligible for the first time in 10 years. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs are favored by 8½ points at home. A lot hinges on whether or not quarterback Mikey Keene can play. He is still questionable after injuring his ankle in Fresno State’s only loss of the season at Wyoming.


You think Boise State is at a low point right now? The Broncos got nothin’ on their friends at San Diego State. The Aztecs were shut out 6-0 at home in Snapdragon Stadium last Saturday night by a team that had lost 16 games in a row. That would be Nevada, which managed only two field goals itself. The Wolf Pack had been allowing just under 40 points per game, and SDSU goose-eggs it? The Aztecs are now 3-5. Lack of fans is the other story down there. The announced attendance was 27,000 and change, and the turnstile count was only 19,000 and change—and man was that place empty in the second half. How would you like to deal with them apples?


What a way to bookend a bye week. After a tough 23-21 loss to Montana in the Kibbie Dome a week and a half ago, Idaho turns around for another top 10 battle in Moscow versus Montana State on Saturday. The Vandals are No. 9 this week in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25, and the Bobcats are No. 2. MSU brings in a different kind of offense, and it sure is working. It revolves around quarterback Tommy Mellott, who rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the Bobcats’ 42-30 win at Sacramento State last week. Mellott now has 2,045 career rushing yards. But if the Vandals can bottle up the last six minutes of the game against the Grizzlies, when Gevani McCoy hit Hayden Hatten twice for TDs, they’ll give Montana State fits.


College of Idaho put the Frontier Conference back in order last Saturday with a solid 35-21 win at Carroll, leapfrogging the Saints back into first place. One of the great stories of the Coyotes season has been wide receiver Jon Schofield, the leading scorer in NAIA football. Schofield put up two more touchdowns at Carroll, giving him 18 for the season. That breaks the C of I school record of 17 held by Ted Martin (1953), Tom Winbigler (1948) and Darius-James Peterson (2016). It’s already Senior Day for the Yotes, and Schofield is one of the honorees. C of I hosts Eastern Oregon Saturday at Simplot Stadium.


The Idaho Steelheads have scored 10 goals and allowed 10 goals through the first two games of the season. Their 1-1 record is, therefore, logical. But it’s how they got there last weekend. The Steelheads got smacked 5-2 by the Allen Americans in the season opener last Friday at Idaho Central Arena. But 24 hours later they looked like they did a year ago, exploding for an 8-5 win. There’s some work to do between the pipes, as last season’s superstar goalies are gone. Bryan Thomson yielded five goals on just 19 shots Friday, and Dylan Wells gave up five on 28 attempts on Saturday. The Steelies play a two-game series at Utah this weekend.


From the “did you know” department coming out of Boise State’s bye week. The Broncos are trying to extend the nation’s longest streak of winning seasons, currently 25 years, and we know what an uphill battle that’s going to be. Well, Linfield University over in Oregon is 6-0 now and has extended the longest streak at any level of college football in history, clinching its 67th consecutive winning season. The run began in 1956, and since then Linfield has won 81 percent of its games. The Wildcats currently play in NCAA Division III. Twelve years into the streak, in 1968, Linfield was Boise State’s first opponent as a four-year program. The landmark game was played in the old wooden Bronco Stadium, and Linfield won 17-7. The Broncos recovered to go 8-2 in their first year under Tony Knap.

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

October 25, 2013, 10 years ago today: Boise State’s 50-game October winning streak, extending back to 2001, comes to an end with a 37-20 at BYU. Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill, a sophomore from Highland High in Pocatello, guided his offense to 376 yards in the first half on a phenomenal 52 plays. Grant Hedrick, making his first start at quarterback for Boise State, threw for 232 yards, with one interception and a touchdown, and he ran for another score. But the 24-3 hole the Broncos dug themselves at halftime was too deep. It was BYU’s first win over Boise State in four tries.

(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.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *