Monday, August 19, 2013.
It was a very different public unveiling for Boise State fans last night. The half practice/half scrimmage provided only one possession of live action for the Broncos’ first-team offense (with the exception of the offensive line). But the crowd of 7,410 got what it wanted on the drive—until the last play. Sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi bulled his way for 38 yards on four carries, including a 22-yard burst. With Ajayi’s help, senior quarterback Joe Southwick moved the offense into the red zone, knife-through-butter style. Then came a tip and an interception in the end zone by Ebo Makinde on a throw intended for Kirby Moore. “We had seen the play in practice a couple times,” said Makinde, the senior safety. “And I thought, ‘If they throw that seam route, I’m going to try to get there.’” Southwick was 3-of-4 for 28 yards.
It wasn’t the fan-friendly event it’s been in the past, but the Broncos tried to smooth over the “half-practice” part by explaining each drill the team was conducting. The scrimmage itself didn’t start until about 8:20 and last only 59 plays, but when defensive end Gabe Perez went down with an injury during the scrum, the method to coach Chris Petersen’s madness was evident. This team wants to stay healthy, and it generally has. “We probably have more guys practicing now than we usually do at this time,” said Petersen.
Easily the most entertaining part of the night came during the practice portion when Boise State conducted its “one-on-one wannabes” contest. That involves guys who are totally out of place lining up against each other—a “quarterback” and a “wide receiver” against a “cornerback.” The competition went five rounds, and the offense won when center Matt Paradis, playing QB, threw to his “wide receiver,” offensive guard Marcus Henry. Despite being mugged by “cornerback” Armand Nance, Henry hung onto Paradis’ pass, forcing the defense to run gassers.
There wasn’t the holding-of-the-breath of the past couple of years in the stands when the kickers took the spotlight last night. Dan Goodale, the Timberline High grad hoping to be a “comeback player of the year” of sorts this season, was perfect on nine field goal attempts, including three 42-yarders. Junior college transfer Tyler Rausa was 6-of-8, kicking one 42-yarder while missing another and having a 38-yard attempt blocked. Petersen calls the competition “tight” but acknowledges that Goodale has been solid throughout fall camp.
Redshirt freshmen who shined before with folks in the stands included strongside linebacker Chris Santini, who led the team with eight tackles and a sack. Santini, who had “go fast” sharpied onto his wrist tape, did just that. On offense, quarterback Nick Patti was under constant pressure but had a good scrimmage, going 6-of-10 for 64 yards. “I do think Nick Patti has improved, he really has,” said Petersen. “(Especially) the last four or five days.” And we’ve gotta mention a walk-on who redshirted last year. Charles Bertoli, at least from my vantage point, has made a bid to be Boise State’s fourth running back this season. Bertoli rushed for 32 yards on five carrries.
The answer to the persistent question, “Where will Boise State start the season in the rankings?” the past few months was more often than not, “Oh, maybe the upper teens.” You can’t get more “upper teens” than No. 19, and that’s where the Broncos were pegged in the AP Poll Saturday after drawing the same position in the Coaches Poll. They’re the only non-BCS team on the list. Also of note, Fresno State received 36 points, Washington 17, Utah State 8, and BYU 1.
Paul Petrino came to Idaho as a renowned offensive mind, and offense is what Vandal fall camp has been all about. Those of us who thought spring football was just a way for for former Coeur d’Alene High star Chad Chalich to buy time as the No. 1 quarterback until junior college transfer Josh McCain arrived appear to be sorely mistaken. Chalich, embracing Petrino’s new system, was a stunning 19-of-20 for 414 yards and five touchdowns in Idaho’s second fall camp scrimmage Saturday. That’s tough to do against air. The completion percentage, 95 percent, is significant, because that was the Vandals’ biggest bugaboo last season. And it was a bugaboo for the rest of Idaho’s quarterbacks Saturday, who went a combined 22-of-50 during the 126-play session. Chalich has to be the starter, doesn’t he?
Former Boise State star Doug Martin appears to be okay after a knee to his helmet forced an early exit from Tampa Bay’s 25-21 loss at New England Friday night. Martin didn’t return after one carry for four yards. But was just a preseason game, and far be it from the Buccaneers to take a chance on their prized second-year running back. Elsewhere among Bronco products in the NFL over the weekend, Jamar Taylor saw his first action for Miami as he bounces back from sports hernia surgery in May. The Dolphins’ second-round draft pick had one one tackle in a 24-17 loss to Houston. Chase Baker made two tackles for the Vikings, Kyle Wilson had one stop for the Jets plus one kickoff return for 24 yards, Orlando Scandrick had a pass deflection for the Cowboys, and D.J. Harper had one carry for three yards for the 49ers.
The Boise Hawks looked they they’d simply keep the steamroller going when they got to Pasco Friday night, beating Tri-City 6-2. But the Hawks have been in a sinkhole since, absorbing shellackings of 11-0 and 10-2 the past two nights. Last night they collected nine hits but left nine men on base. This after Boise had scored 33 runs in its series sweep of Eugene last week, the most in a three-game stretch by the club in six years. The Hawks have two more games against the Dust Devils tonight and tomorrow night.
One of the real positives of “the mtn.” network was the exposure it gave Boise State basketball during its first season in the conference. The much-maligned network went dark almost 15 months ago, but it was missed last winter, when the Broncos were on a run in one of the top hoops conferences in the country. Nine of Boise State’s league games had no TV exposure at all—not even online. Things are better this season, with eight games slated for CBS Sports Network and two more with a shot at ESPNU. Those two will at least be online at ESPN3 if they don’t go on ESPNU, and three more games are locked in for ESPN3. ROOT Sports hasn’t announced its Mountain West schedule yet, so some of the Broncos’ five remaining games without TV assignments could end up there.
If Nick Symmonds’ outspoken comments on society in Russia do nothing else, they’ll make people remember when the Sochi Olympics roll around this winter. Symmonds dedicated his silver medal in the 800 meters last Tuesday at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow to his gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends in the U.S. while blasting Russia's controversial anti-gay propaganda law. Symmonds says Russia’s stance has sparked the "defining civil rights movement of our time." He might be right. We’ll know more by February.
This Day In Sports…August 19, 1992:
Rookie second baseman Bret Boone, grandson of Ray Boone and son of Bob Boone, becomes the first third-generation major leaguer when he breaks in for the Mariners against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Bret had a hit, an RBI, and two runs in his debut as the M’s won, 10-8. Boone returned to Seattle in 2001, leading the M’s to their best season ever with 116 wins. But less than four years later, with his numbers in a steep decline, the Mariners cut him loose. Boone finished the 2005 season with the Twins and retired the next spring.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)