Boise State OL John Molchon discusses tragedy in his hometown of Las Vegas
Postgame news conferences often are full of the same cliches when it comes to the other team — they played hard, they have good players, etc.
Following Utah State’s 40-24 win over BYU on Friday, Aggies senior quarterback Kent Myers was asked what the victory meant.
“I’m not from Utah, but nobody likes BYU,” Myers said.
He’s not alone in that sentiment, especially among in-state teams. But also at Boise State.
The Broncos and Cougars will face off Friday for the sixth straight year, and will play through 2023. Some debate whether it’s a true rivalry, but for those on the field, it sure feels like one.
“I root for 2 football teams every weekend. Boise State, and whoever is playing against BYU,” former Boise State defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte said in a Sept. 8 tweet, which has been liked more than 1,000 times.
Hoyte was reaching for teammate Chanceller James two years ago in Provo when BYU’s Ului Lapuaho punched James in a, um, very delicate spot below the belt.
“It is a hatred. It’s an absolute animosity I have,” Hoyte said. “They pretend they’re high and mighty, but they have some of the most grotesque trash talk I’ve ever heard. There’s an affinity for those types of hits, they try to hit you there when you’re on field-goal block, too.”
There is no doubt that some extra scrutiny is placed on BYU considering it’s a religious-affiliated school — and with the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl brawl and the Lapuaho punch in recent memory. Linebacker Adam Pulsipher threw a late jab at a ball carrier Aug. 26 against Portland State, which made the rounds on Twitter.
“We’re a physical team, it’s helped us win a lot of games,” BYU linebacker Fred Warner said. “There have definitely been some mistakes here and there, things guys shouldn’t have done. But those dirty plays, that’s not us.”
BYU coach Kalani Sitake has pushed aside talk about that reputation, but the second-year coach has in the past said his team needs “to be respectful and represent BYU.” Boise State sophomore nose tackle Sonatane Lui, a fellow Tongan, said of Sitake, “I’m a really big fan.”
Perhaps the borderline plays have been less frequent, but it’s hard to forget. Boise State senior tight end Jake Roh said “there’s things here and there in the games past that have happened, but I think you should always play with an attitude.”
“I cannot stand them,” Hoyte said. “There’s some pent-up aggression there. I hate to say it, but if Boise State lost each game, as long as they beat the crap out of BYU, I’d be happy.”
BYE WEEK AT A GOOD TIME?
Following Boise State’s 42-23 loss to Virginia on Sept. 22, it would seem the Broncos would like to get back into a game as soon as possible. While there was that feeling, the team also saw it as a prime opportunity to work on some lingering issues.
“I think it gave us a good chance to step back and re-evaluate where we’re at as a team and where we’re at individually,” sophomore safety Kekoa Nawahine said.
Boise State is 8-4 under coach Bryan Harsin during the regular season with more than a week to prepare. The Broncos had eight days to get ready for Virginia. But following a 2-2 start, and a loss in which every facet had issues, having two weeks for BYU could be a boon.
“After a loss, that gives us time to clean up and see exactly what we need to do to get things back on track. For lack of a better word, that was embarrassing for us,” Lui said. “This bye week showed us a lot of things we were falling off on.”
TRAGEDY HITS CLOSE FOR MOLCHON
Boise State sophomore offensive lineman John Molchon, who has started at three positions this season, woke up Monday morning to attend a weightlifting session in the team facility.
Checking Instagram, he saw “Pray For Vegas” come up time and again. Eventually, he saw what had happened in his hometown, where a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more at a Las Vegas concert. Some of Molchon’s friends were there, though luckily none were hurt. A few students who attend his high school, Faith Lutheran, were injured, however.
“It’s terrible, all I could do was pray,” Molchon said. “… It was a rough day for sure, it was kind of hazy. I had to focus back on what I was doing here, but it was tough.”
LEAVE BOISE, STILL GET LATE KICKS
One of Boise State fans’ biggest gripes has been the recent spate of late kickoffs. But it’s an issue for most teams — even former Boise State coach Chris Petersen’s Washington Huskies.
All of Washington’s games before its mid-October bye will have kicked off at 8 p.m. Eastern or later, with three kicking off at 10 or 10:45 p.m. It should be noted that Boise State is in the same boat, minus its daytime opener against Troy.
“It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure,” said Petersen, who once rarely thought of such things publicly. “No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it.
“It’s painful for our team, it’s painful for our administration, and we know certainly the most important part is for our fans.”
AMONG THE YOUNGEST AROUND
Part of Boise State’s inconsistencies could be attributed to the fact that it is a young team. Sure, that’s not an excuse, but it may show why there have been some ups and downs on both sides of the ball.
Sixteen different players have made their first career starts this season for the Broncos, and only seven teams have had more: Baylor, Ball State, Illinois, LSU, UAB, Utah State and East Carolina. Those seven teams are a combined 13-20, and only two have winning records.
Boise State at BYU
When: 8:15 p.m. Friday
Where: Lavell Edwards Stadium (63,470, grass), Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN (Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 2-2 (lost to Virginia 42-23); BYU 1-4 (lost to Utah State 40-24)
Series: Boise State leads 5-2 (beat Cougars 28-27 in Boise in 2016)
Vegas line: Boise State by 8 1/2
Kickoff weather: Low 50s, clear