Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: The trench that will tell the tale

Boise State’s chances against Oregon State Saturday night start with the Broncos defensive line. Talented and deep, it has to deal with one of the best offensive lines in the Pac-12. Boise State has a chance to field its best top-to-bottom D-line in 10 years, with George Tarlas, Jackson Cravens, Scott Matlock and Demitri Washington as the starters. Tarlas is a Zen master with brute strength, Cravens has improved every year, Matlock is the Broncos’ defensive leader, and Washington is 100 percent for the first time since he made his mark late in his freshman year. The Beavers O-line has a couple of calling cards from last year: it allowed only 14 sacks all season, and OSU running backs averaged 5.3 yards per carry. The winner of that particular position will probably determine the winner of this game.


The Senior Bowl watch list was released last week, and it was very interesting. Outside of JL Skinner, no Boise State Bronco is a shoe-in for next January’s pro scouting showcase event. Here are your other five names: quarterback Hank Bachmeier, left tackle John Ojukwu, cornerbacks Caleb Biggers and Markel Reed, and defensive lineman Divine Obichere. Let’s stop on that last one. Obichere instead of Matlock? Matlock’s a senior, right? But how about Obichere. Maybe somebody at the Senior Bowl has done some homework and is on to something there. At 6-3, 290 pounds, Obichere takes up a lot of space on the defensive front. But he’s had a relatively quiet career, with 31 tackles and two sacks. Obichere’s actually backing up Matlock at defensive tackle.


Everyone has their take on Boise State’s first depth chart of the season. Here are some of mine. DJ Schramm must have impressed in fall camp to the point that the Broncos moved Isaiah Bagnah back to the edge position, where he shares the backup spot to Demitri Washington with Deven Wright. Schramm is finally a starter as a senior at weakside linebacker. Also notable on defense: Rodney Robinson getting the nod over Seyi Oladipo at field safety, Taylen Green is the No. 2 quarterback behind Hank Bachmeier, and true freshman Ashton Jeanty is backing up George Holani at running back. Unlike past years, Boise State is going only two-deep on the depth chart, so the absence of guys like Sam Vidlak at QB and Elelyon Noa at RB is not alarming.

The fact that Davis Koetter is listed as a No. 2 at wide receiver at Boise State isn’t a surprise. Koetter will play a lot, after all. The fact that Latrell Caples is a starter ahead of him is. Caples obviously had a solid fall camp, because there’s a lot of talent in that receivers room. If Stefan Cobbs is the new feature receiver to replace Khalil Shakir, maybe Caples fills Cobbs’ role last year as the explosive alternative. Elsewhere, former Borah High star Austin Bolt has settled into the backup spot behind Billy Bowens in his first season back home at wide receiver. Rounding out the wideout depth chart is sophomore Cole Wright. He had to beat out guys like Eric McAlister and Shea Whiting for that spot. The Broncos’ new committee will convene Saturday night.


Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith has some inner feelings on Boise State. We don’t know exactly what they are, but it’s certainly a tangled web. On the one hand, Smith was the quarterbacks coach at Idaho from 2004-09, and the Vandals lost to the Broncos all six times. By 2012, he had caught the eye of Chris Petersen and came to Boise State to coach the QBs during Coach Pete’s final two seasons. Smith then followed Petersen to Washington and really honed his craft, serving as Huskies offensive coordinator for four years before returning to his alma mater in Corvallis. He’s already in his fifth season with the Beavers, and last year he led them to their first bowl game since the 2013 Hawaii Bowl—a 38-23 win over Boise State when Smith was finishing up with the Broncos.


This got me thinking about Corvallis. In an abundance of caution, Rocky Mountain College and College of Idaho have agreed to move the start time for their game this Saturday to 11:30 a.m. due to a high heat index forecasted in Billings. In Boise it’s supposed to be 100 on Saturday. So what’s it going to be like at Reser Stadium? Right now the National Weather Service says it’ll be 85. Downright comfortable by our standards. If that’s considered hot over there, the Broncos will be a lot more accustomed to it than the Beavers. As for the Yotes, the platoon system worked well in last Saturday’s 31-3 win over Montana State-Northern, with quarterbacks Ryan Hibbs and Andy Peters both playing well. But John Wustrow of the Idaho Press reports that coach Mike Moroski has settled on Peters as his starter at Rocky Mountain.


Expectations vs. reality for the Mountain West in Week 0: the conference went 3-2, no surprise there, but there were a couple of alarming performances. Wyoming was fairly awful in its 38-6 loss at Illinois, with Utah State transfer quarterback Andrew Peasley going just 5-for-20 for 30 yards. And favorite son Timmy Chang’s debut as head coach at Hawaii was miserable, as the Rainbow Warriors were pummeled 63-10 by Vanderbilt. USU and Nevada won, but not impressively. The Aggies, 23-point favorites, rallied from a 14-0 first quarter deficit to beat UConn, 31-20. On the other hand, it was a decent debut for former Sun Valley resident Jim Mora as Huskies coach. The Wolf Pack did just enough to win 23-12 at New Mexico State in Ken Wilson’s first game.

On to this week. Utah State at Alabama: so you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance. The Aggies, 41½-point underdogs, have a 0.7 percent shot at winning according to ESPN. Other significant MW matchups have Colorado State at No. 6 Michigan in coach Jay Norvell’s debut and San Diego State hosting Arizona in the grand opening of Snapdragon Stadium (with last fall’s program response to the rape accusations involving three players hanging over the Aztecs’ heads). And from the “this season could go south in a hurry” department, Wyoming limps home to face Tulsa. The Cowboys need something good to happen.


The rarely-played Battle of the Palouse returns to Pullman Saturday, as Idaho and Washington State meet in the 92nd edition of the rivalry. The Vandals and Cougars haven’t met since 2016. There’ll be newness on both sidelines, as Jason Eck makes his Idaho coaching debut, and Jake Dickert tries to pick up where he left off last year when he was promoted to WSU head coach after Nick Rolovich lost his job due to the state’s vaccine mandate. Eck is still mum on his starting quarterback—on the first Vandals depth chart, J’Bore Gibbs, C.J. Jordan and Gevani McCoy all share the first QB line.


The sun is shining on former Boise State star Brett Rypien today. Josh Johnson was released Tuesday by Denver, and Rypien is slated as Russell Wilson’s backup. Unless some funny stuff still happens, Rypien will be on the Broncos’ opening day 53-man roster for the first time in his fourth season in the NFL. The bottom line is the bottom line: a one-year, $965,000 contract. Two of Boise State’s all-time sackmasters did not make the cut, as Curtis Weaver was released by Cleveland and David Moa was waived by the New York Giants. Also, John Molchon was cut by Tampa Bay and John Hightower was waived by Philadelphia.


Boise State men’s basketball has its first commitment of the 2024 class. That’s right, 2024. Julian Bowie, a 6-3 guard out of Pocatello High School, gave his verbal last week. Jordan Kaye of the Idaho Press wrote a story about Bowie when he was working at the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello. Bowie was a freshman then but had already clocked his first 35-point game. He’s pretty good at hoops, having averaged 19.2 points and 5.4 rebounds last season as a sophomore. But Kaye also wrote about Bowie’s involvement in Poky community issues, and how he’s known there for helping others less fortunate than him.


A positive for the Boise Hawks as they have returned from their Western Idaho Fair road trip. They ended it by splitting a six-game series with the Idaho Falls Chukars—and that’s a lot better than most of the season has gone. The Hawks are hosting a six-game set with Grand Junction at Memorial Stadium, and they’ve split the first two games of that one, too, routing the Rockies 16-2 Tuesday night. Boise is now 28-58, with 10 games left in the season.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by GREENWOOD’S SKI HAUS…their season is kicking off, too!

August 31, 2012, 10 years ago today: Playing its fourth straight season opener against a ranked team on national TV, Boise State loses the first game of the post-Kellen Moore era, 17-13, at Michigan State. The Broncos stayed in the game with a fumble recovery and three interceptions, one of them returned 43 yards for a touchdown by Jeremy Ioane. But Spartans tailback Le’Veon Bell rushed for 210 yards, and Boise State rushed for only 37 as a team. The Broncos offense was held without a touchdown for the first time in 15 years.

(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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