Mountain West Title Thoughts
Time can heal most wounds and more than a week has passed since Boise State’s loss on The Blue to Fresno State in the Mountain West Conference championship game.
It wasn’t an easy one to stomach for Bronco fans, but it did provide a reality check and, hopefully, some perspective on the journey this team has been on.
This team endured starting 2-2, firing the offensive coordinator, having the multi-year starting quarterback enter the transfer portal, and choosing to start a physically gifted, but raw redshirt freshman quarterback when the season was teetering on collapsing.
And yet, here they sit at 9-4 with a chance to win double digit games for the first time since 2019.
No doubt, the Bulldogs winning handily on the blue turf showed that this core group of players are still young and that Taylen Green is still learning to be the guy.
Kudos to Jake Haener, Jeff Tedford, and the rest of the Fresno State program. They came into Boise and wrestled the trophy away for the second time in five years.
There always seems to be transition taking place in the world of college football, and Boise State is no exception. Special teams and EDGE coach Kelly Poppinga has left to take a position with the Big 12-bound BYU Cougars, his alma mater. Head strength coach Reid Kagy has also been lured away to a high-profile school, the Iowa State Cyclones. It is assumed that Kagy will take some key members of his strength and conditioning staff with him to Ames.
Andy Avalos was recently asked during his press conference before leaving for the Frisco Bowl about a potential timeline for any official hires. Avalos didn’t give any juicy details or surprise information, but he did rave about one thing.
The resources that Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey has been able to provide Avalos to find the guys he wants on his staff and to not just settle. Dickey has preached throughout his tenure that whatever Boise State doesn’t have, it will go out and get.
It appears that we may be seeing that come to fruition in the next week. Jabril Frazier has been handed the EDGE coaching duties for the bowl game this weekend, but Avalos said that there won’t be any concrete talks until after Saturday. The same can’t be said for the vacant offensive coordinator position that has been open since the end of September.
There has been hardly any smoke from local or national media about who the Broncos may be looking to hire. Idaho radio station KTIK’s premier program, Idaho Sports Talk with Mike Prater and Johnny Mallory (Ballgame), has had familiar names appear on their show to talk about any potential interests they may have in the opening. Former Boise State quarterback and current Canadian Football League head coach Ryan Dinwiddie has come on multiple times to discuss his fondness for the The Blue. They have also had former offensive coordinator Mike Sanford on the show after new Colorado head coach Deion “Primetime” Sanders elected not to retain him on the Buffalo staff.
Typically, it is not normal for a legitimate candidate who has communicated with a football program about a vacant position to still perform media spots and readily discuss his interest.
There is a feeling that this may be a splashier hire than we expected and that, for one of the few times in recent memory, Boise State will go completely outside of the family.
Between Saturday’s bowl game and early signing day next Wednesday, we should hear an official announcement about who Boise State’s next offensive coordinator will be.
Update: Boise State has hired former QB Bush Hamdan as the Broncos’ next offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has been at Missouri for the past three years, acting primarily as the quarterbacks coach in Columbia.
The Frisco Bowl!
BOISE STATE (9-4, 8-1 MWC) VS NORTH TEXAS (7-6, 6-2 C-USA)
Location: Frisco, Texas (Toyota Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, December 17th at 7:15 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Streaming: ESPN app
Radio: KBOI 670 AM / 93.1 FM
Head-to-Head: Boise State and North Texas are tied at three a piece. The last meeting came in 2000 when the Broncos beat the Mean Green 59-0.
1. How many key players do the Broncos get back from the injured list?
In the conference championship against Fresno State, the depleted depth of the Broncos was evident. While some players toughened out a performance on The Blue for one final time in 2022, getting two weeks of rest before traveling to the Lone Star State will be beneficial. At the same time, you also don’t want to have an up-and-coming player suffer a serious injury that may delay their progress as they head into spring camp in 2023. Expect some young and inexperienced players get some run, including someone like LB Dishawn Misa.
2. Will the Boise State defense limit a dynamic North Texas offense that averages nearly 34 points per game?
The Mean Green have one of the most unique players in college football under center. Quarterback Austin Aune is a 29-year old former minor league baseball player who is classified as a redshirt junior.
He is throwing to kids a decade younger than him.
According to many sports databases, Aune is thought to be the oldest starting quarterback in the modern era of college football.
North Texas did put up a solid fight in Conference USA as they took the champion UTSA Roadrunners to the brink in San Antonio, eventually losing 31-27. They average 463 total yards and play a balanced style, raking in 262 passing yards and 201 rushing yards, respectively. Outside of Aune, there is no point-blank answer for who steps up when Aune is off. Three running backs accumulated between 550 and 750 yards while two receivers eclipsed the 500 yard mark. Tight end Var’Keyes Gumms hauled in 451 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Jyaire Shorter was a touchdown factory, accounting for ten touchdowns through the air in 2022.
3. How many Boise State players will play their last game in the blue and orange?
I know there is no reason to look ahead to the offseason with one game to go, but, to appreciate the present, we need to consider the future. Since the start of this season, ten Broncos have entered the transfer portal and recently, four new players made their intentions known. EDGE Deven Wright, DL Isaiah Bagnah, TE Tyneil Hopper, and K Will Ferrin have all left the program and have received offers from schools that range from the Power Five to mid-level FCS programs.
I would not be surprised if there are more transfer announcements to come after the bowl game is complete.
Beyond the portal, there are plenty of seniors who don’t have any eligibility remaining while others can decide whether they want to come back for one last ride on the The Blue. Defensive stalwarts JL Skinner, Tyreque Jones, and Scott Matlock are looking to the NFL Draft while someone like George Holani does have one year left to go if they so choose.
My point is that we all should value watching these young men represent Boise State one last time here in 2022 and, hopefully, go out as winners.
The Broncos weren’t able to capitalize on sending their seniors into the sunset with a ring on their fingers, but they do have a chance to return Boise State to the standard.
Boise State is one of the 29 teams in 2022 who can earn that title this bowl season.
The hiring of Bush Hamdan, what is likely Dirk Koetter’s last game coaching, and national signing day coming up next week causes me to believe that Andy Avalos will have this team ready for battle and to win with pride.
According to DraftKings, Boise State is currently favored by 10.5 and the total is 59.5. The Broncos not only win, but cover the spread.
Boise State 42 - North Texas 24
The college football world lost a giant in head coach Mike Leach this week. A man of many talents and with knowledge as vast as the Sahara, Leach lived life by “Swinging his sword”. As not only a fan of Boise State, but a fan of college sports and all the personalities that live within it, let’s never forget the influence and joy that Mike Leach brought to so many.