Wednesday, July 31, 2013.
We are exactly one month away from Boise State’s season opener at Washington (seems just yesterday the countdown hit 100 days). UW coach Steve Sarkisian can’t wait. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more energized for (a season),” Sarkisian said the other day on Seattle’s KJR. “I feel really good about this team.” So shouldn’t we know by now if the Huskies’ star tight end, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, is going to play against the Broncos? Well, Sarkisian told the station he expects to finalize a decision on Seferian-Jenkins this week, but it’s “more than likely” that a potential punishment for the junior won’t be made public until the day of the season opener. So will ASJ (as they call him) be suspended for the first half that day? The first quarter? Sure doesn’t sound like it would be for the whole game.
Why is this a big deal for Washington? Let us count the records. In just two seasons, Seferian-Jenkins has already set new Husky tight end career records with 110 receptions, 1,388 receiving yards, and 13 touchdown receptions (the most recent coming against Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl last December). He also set new UW single-season standards at his position with 69 catches and 805 yards last year. Seferian-Jenkins could be the Huskies’ biggest offensive threat this season—even beyond tailback Bishop Sankey. And he makes quarterback Keith Price much, much better.
USA Today is counting down its rankings of all FBS schools, from No. 125 to No. 1. We don’t know where Boise State will be when it faces Washington August 31—USA Today hasn’t reached the Broncos yet. But we know they’ll be higher-rated than the Huskies, who have been unveiled at No. 41. Writes Paul Myerberg: “If not a make-or-break season for Sarkisian and his staff, 2013 represents another challenge in the program's quest for a next-level leap. Opportunities are there, as they always are: UW gets Stanford, gets Oregon, takes on Boise State, Arizona State and others, and will eventually be defined by its ability to bottle its top-grade game—that one Saturday when everything clicks—and march over and through the program's current seven-win plateau.” The Huskies have won seven games in each of the last three years.
The last FBS conference to go through the Media Days routine is wrapping up now. That’s the American Athletic Conference, formerly the Big East. And commissioner Mike Aresco is defiantly holding onto the notion that the AAC belongs with the five power conferences moving forward. "Whatever the highest level of Division I is in the future, we expect to be part of it," Aresco said. "The American Athletic Conference belongs in it. Not because we say we do, but because the empirical indices say we do." Maybe that was true a year ago, when Louisville and Rutgers were hanging around, and Boise State and San Diego State were on their way in. But not now.
More from Boise State grads in NFL training camps. One report says Shea McClellin reported to Chicago a little bit lighter than he was earlier in the offseason—another said he put on eight pounds. McClellin told reporters his goal was to reduced body fat. No word on any after-effects of the plantar faciitis that was dogging the one-time Marsing Husky six weeks ago. Dan Durkin of CBSLocal.com in Chicago analyzed every snap from McClellin’s rookie year and gave him high marks for his pass rush. Durkin writes that McClellin had one “disruption” (a sack, hurry or hit) for every 11 snaps versus the pass. But Durkin called him a “total liability” against the run. Summary, says Durkin: “There’s a lot of pressure on McClellin to perform and justify his draft status. Athleticism isn’t a question; savvy and strength—which can be developed over time—are.
George Iloka appeared in only seven games as a rookie for Cincinnati last year, and almost all of the action was on special teams. Iloka logged just two tackles, both in the second week of the season against Cleveland. But he’s getting his shot at strong safety in training camp. According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals have split first-team reps between Iloka, veteran Taylor Mays and rookie Shawn Williams early in camp.
Former Idaho wide receiver Justin Veltung was picked up yesterday by St. Louis after auditioning with the Rams two days after his release by Seattle. He had signed with the Seahawks after going undrafted in April. Veltung had 62 catches for 901 yards and eight touchdowns in his injury-interrupted Vandal career and is also UI’s career leader in kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage.
After being two-hit in an 11-inning loss to Spokane Monday night, the drudgery continued last night for the Boise Hawks. The Indians were stifling the home team 3-0 in the sixth inning at Memorial Stadium. But the Hawks put up a five-spot in their half of the sixth, getting a two-run double from Rony Rodriguez and a two-run single from Kevin Encarnacion, leading to a 5-3 victory. Boise starter Rob Zastryzny, the Cubs’ second round draft pick out of Missouri, tossed his standard two innings—standardly scoreless. Zastryzny began his pro career with eight shutout innings for the Hawks before allowing his first earned run last Friday. His ERA is now a stellar 0.75. The Hawks begin a five-game series at Everett tonight.
Tickets to the Portland Trail Blazers-Utah Jazz exhibition game in CenturyLink Arena October 11 go on sale tomorrow morning. Featured performers include Portland’s NBA Rookie of the Year and former Weber State Wildcat Damon Lillard and Utah’s first-round draft pick, NCAA Player of the Year Trey Burke out of Michigan. This will be Portland’s first venture into Boise since starting its single-affiliation agreement with the Idaho Stampede, but—little-known fact—the Blazers played the first basketball game in the history of the BSU Pavilion in October, 1982.
KTVB.com Mountain West Factoid of the Day: The three most unpredictable teams in the conference this year are the ones with new coaches: Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State. The media poll cut the Aggies the most slack because new coach Matt Wells was promoted from within and was bound and determined to keep USU’s schemes and systems in place. Utah State is also one of the most experienced teams in the country. San Jose State and Nevada have new coaches, Ron Caragher and Brian Polian. By definition, there are going to be changes in those programs. But the fact that the Spartans were picked third in the West Division over Nevada has to make you wonder. Yes, SJSU has one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in David Fales. But, unlike in Reno, this winning football thing is a new phenomenon at the south end of the Bay Area.
This Day In Sports…July 31, 1990:
With a win over the Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers fireballer Nolan Ryan becomes the first and only pitcher to reach 300 wins in the 1990's. Ryan had one of the most diverse legacies of any major league pitcher. In addition to winning 324 games, he struck out a major league record 5,714 batters and threw seven no-hitters, 12 one-hitters and 18 two-hitters. Ryan played in 27 seasons from 1966 to 1993, tying Cap Anson for the most seasons in a major league career.
(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.)