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Boise State football: Two sets of DL starters?

There’s one position group at Boise State that is, top-to-bottom, probably the best in the program right now. And it could determine what kind of season’s in store.
Credit: AP Photo/Steve Conner
Utah State’s Jaylen Warren tries to elude Boise State’s Scott Matlock during an NCAA game Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 42-13.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

We’ve talked about two waves of wide receivers at Boise State. Well, once upon a time in the Chris Petersen era, Broncos defensive line coach Pete Kwiatkowski would roll out what was almost two sets of starters along the D-line. In 2010, the starters were Shea McClellin, Chase Baker, Billy Winn and Ryan Winterswyk. McClellin and Winn were future NFL Draft picks and Baker would also play in the league. Then, in would come Tyrone Crawford, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Jarrell Root. They were fresh and dominating. Injuries plagued the Boise State defensive line last season, sapping its depth. But the possibility is there for two sets of starters. How about Demitri Washington, Scott Matlock, Scale Igiehon and Shane Irwin, followed by Isaiah Bagnah, Divine Obichere and Jackson Cravens? Could be a key to the season.

You have Matlock and Igiehon entrenched at tackle. Flanking them are Irwin, coming off a team-leading six sacks last season, and the guy he effectively replaced, Washington, who should be ready to return from his knee injury in September. He could still live up to his projection as Curtis Weaver’s heir-apparent. But the talent runs deep. Bagnah, forced into action by Washington’s absence, logged three sacks last year, while tackles Obichere and Cravens had two and one, respectively. The defensive line may very well be the best position group on the team.

BORISCH, THE MOONLIGHTING RUNNING BACK

The Idaho Vandals are trying to figure out who they have at quarterback for this week’s spring season finale at Northern Arizona. A week ago right now they didn’t have anybody. On IST Tuesday, coach Paul Petrino detailed the predicament. In a couple day’s time, Idaho installed a new offensive package for running back Zach Borisch, who was pressed into service at QB. Borisch, a sophomore from Kennewick, WA, famously rushed for 205 yards in the Vandals’ 38-31 loss at Eastern Washington. Even if Idaho does have a real quarterback available at NAU, Borisch has made a convincing case for playing time. The game in Flagstaff is a makeup for the game that was postponed on March 13.

TRANSFER PORTAL KEEPS PERCOLATING

The stocking and emptying of the hoops shelves continues in the Mountain West, thanks to the transfer portal. Among the incoming: Cal guard Matt Bradley has announced he’s joining the San Diego State program. Bradley led the Bears with 18.0 points per game last season. The rich get richer. UNLV’s latest signing is Donovan Williams, the second Texas Longhorn expatriate to join the Rebels. Williams is slated to have three years of eligibility remaining and is expected to play immediately. However, UNLV scoring leader Bryce Hamilton has entered the transfer portal. It’s just a wholesale roster turnover in Vegas. And Sam Vecenie of The Athletic reports that Wyoming guard Marcus Williams, the Mountain West Freshman of the Year, has hit the portal. Williams averaged 14.8 points and 4.3 assists this season.

HUTCHISON BOGS DOWN IN D.C.

What’s happened with Chandler Hutchison since his glorious debut with the Washington Wizards 2½ weeks ago? Not much, unfortunately. The former Boise State star scored 18 points on March 27 in his first game after coming over from Chicago in a trade. Hutchison has scored a combined 17 points and has not hit a three-pointer in his five appearances since then. He hasn’t played in three of Wizards’ past four games. This is a lot more like his experience with the Bulls. Hutchison’s numbers have leveled off to 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

THE VIRTUAL ROBIE

As COVID concerns linger, the Race To Robie Creek is all online this year, as in, runner’s choice. The “Toughest Race in the Northwest” has given participants from April 1-18 to “run/walk/crawl/hike/skip/saunter 13.1 miles.” Runners can do it wherever they want—all at once or broken into different days and lengths. There is no designated course, so there’ll be no awards or course records. Robie still drew 913 entries from 22 states, including Alaska and Florida, plus four other countries (Sweden, Israel, Canada, and Mexico). The oldest runner is 90. This Saturday would have been the actual Robie race day.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…April 14, 1941:

One of the most polarizing figures in all of sports is born. Pete Rose was NL Rookie of the Year when he broke in with his hometown Cincinnati Reds in 1963. He played 24 seasons in the majors and is baseball’s all-time hits leader with 4,256. Rose earned the name “Charlie Hustle” for his aggressive style of play, but it took on a different meaning when he was found to have bet on baseball while he was playing for and managing the Reds at the end of his career. Rose was eventually placed on the “permanently ineligible” list by the sport and was banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Pete Rose…80 years old today.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)