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It’s still early December—it hasn’t gone away

It’s still early December—it hasn’t gone away

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on December 10, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Monday, December 10, 2012.

Just like Cal hung on to the prospects of landing Chris Petersen as long as it could, Wisconsin appears to be doing the same thing.  Despite athletic director Barry Alvarez’s indication on the Jim Rome Show last Thursday that he wasn’t going after Petersen, saying “he has a home in Boise,” there are still those in Madison claiming Petersen will be interviewed by the Badgers today.  There’s a MAACO Bowl Las Vegas press conference at Boise State today that will include bowl executive director Dan Hanneke, BSU athletic director Mark Coyle and four Bronco players—and no Coach Pete.  But he was never scheduled to be there in the first place as he, as usual, tries to pace himself with media appearances leading up to the bowl game.

Wisconsin would be a shocker, if only because it’s out of Petersen’s lifestyle and recruiting wheelhouse.  If the Badgers’ job comes and goes, there is still one place that could stir the pot in the next month.  The new Sports Illustrated reiterates that Oregon’s Chip Kelly is going to be one of the hottest NFL coaching prospects—and soon (Philadelphia Eagles, anyone?).  That will bring one more round of Chris Petersen speculation, although it is said in Eugene that Ducks offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is set to be promoted to head coach if Kelly leaves.  Ironically, the SI storybox on Kelly talks about Oregon’s 18 two-point conversions, “at least twice as many as all other FBS schools except Boise State,” and its 288 offensive touchdowns, “most in the nation and 29 more than second-place Boise State.”

Bob Condotta, Washington Huskies beat writer for the Seattle Times, ran a story yesterday on UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who held the same post at Boise State for four years.  Will that give the Huskies the upper hand in Las Vegas a week from this Saturday?  "You watch the tape and it's the same things, it's the same offense," Wilcox said in Condotta’s story.  "They've got good kids running it and they coach it really well.  But unless Coach Pete tells us what play they are running beforehand, there is really no advantage (to the fact that he worked there previously)."  Wilcox has taken a Washington defense that allowed almost 36 points per game last season, leading to the firing of D-coordinator Nick Holt, to an average yield of less than 24 points a game this year.

Gabe Perez is Boise State’s 16th commitment for the 2012 recruiting class, according to  Perez gave his verbal over the weekend after coming to Boise on his official visit.  He played outside linebacker, defensive end, quarterback and tailback for Valencia High in Southern California this fall.  The 6-5, 215-pounder is projected to be a linebacker at the outset.  Perez also reportedly had offers from Utah, Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada, and Utah State.  Something he told about his recruiting experience with the Broncos really resonates—we’ve heard this type of thing before.  “What I like is how I get to talk to all of the coaches and not just the area recruiter,” said Perez.  “A lot of schools don't recruit like that.  I think that shows how involved Coach Pete is and how he wants to recruit the right guys."

Sean Kugler, who spent one year on the Boise State staff as offensive line coach during the first Fiesta Bowl season in 2006, is departing the same post with the Pittsburgh Steelers to become head coach at UTEP.  Kugler, who had been with the Steelers the past three seasons, replaces the retiring Mike Price.  And Kugler is bringing in long-time Boise State assistant and current Washington State linebackers coach Jeff Choate as his defensive coordinator.  With the Bronco defensive hierarchy set a year ago, Choate left for WSU seeking upward movement in his career.  He’s got it now with the Miners.

Utah State has a powerful offense, and so does Toledo.  The Aggies have a powerful defense, but the Rockets do not.  That’s why USU is favored by 10 points over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl this Saturday.  Utah State coach Gary Andersen doesn’t use the word “culture” when talking about his defense, but one has developed.  “The way they prepare on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, that’s what sets them apart,” said Andersen.  The Rocket defense appears to still be searching for an identity.  Toledo allows a whopping 464 yards a game, 105th in the country, and 296 of it comes through the air—that ranks 117th.  Yet the Rockets are 9-3.

It looked like guard Will Barton and forward Victor Claver were going to be the guys to come to the Idaho Stampede’s rescue when they were assigned by the Portland Trail Blazers Friday.  Despite two more losses to Austin over the weekend that sent the Stampede spiraling to 0-6, Barton and Claver looked solid in the games in CenturyLink Arena.  But alas, the duo has been summoned back to Portland.  Barton, the 40th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft out of Memphis, was especially valuable against the Toros, scoring 18 and 21 points.  The Stampede’s latest loss to Austin was closer than the previous three, 98-88.  The Stamps actually had a 52-46 halftime lead, but they continue to shoot poorly—they struggled to reach 40 percent from the field Saturday night.

Former Boise State star Doug Martin was back over the 100-yard mark yesterday, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown for Tampa Bay.  But the Buccaneers lost 23-21 on the last play of the game on a touchdown pass from Philadelphia’s Nick Foles to Jeremy Maclin.  Martin now has 1,234 rushing yards and 11 total TDs in his rookie season.  Martin had been held to 56 and 50 yards the previous two weeks but notched his fourth 100-yard game of the year against the Eagles.  He is now the top rookie rusher in Tampa Bay history, breaking the 2005 record of Cadillac Williams, and is 310 yards away from James Wilder’s single-season Bucs record of 1,544 yards set in 1984.

Sometimes Sports Illustrated’s deadlines don’t work out so well.  Boise State sophomore guard Derrick Marks got his photo in this week’s issue magazine in the “Hot/Not” feature as the Mountain West got props for its hot start in hoops this season, featuring Marks’ 35-point night in the Broncos’ road upset of No. 11 Creighton.  Marks probably wouldn’t have made the cut had SI’s copy deadline not been last Monday.  That was before Boise State’s 76-55 loss at Utah.  Marks and the Broncos will try to atone for that stumble this Friday night when they host an SEC opponent for the first time, squaring off against LSU in Taco Bell Arena.

The Idaho Steelheads will take two out of three on the road any time they can get them.  It was very close to three out of three over the weekend, until Ontario scored almost four minutes into overtime yesterday to stop the Steelheads, 5-4.  The Steelies had rocked Las Vegas Friday night, 6-3, spurred by two first-period power play goals from Tristan King.  And Saturday night Tyler Beskorowany stopped 27 of 29 Ontario shots, leading to a 3-2 Steelheads victory.  Yesterday’s OT loss offset a big day by the Steelies’ Austin Smith, who’s turning into The Natural.  Smith scored two more goals, the second one coming with 18 seconds left in regulation to tie the game.  He has now scored goals in 14 of his 15 ECHL games this season.

This Day In Sports…December 10, 1997, 15 years ago today:

One of the wildest days in Boise State football history comes just over three weeks after the season ends.  In the wee hours of the morning, a private jet whisked Houston Nutt off to Arkansas, where he was introduced as the Razorbacks’ new head coach.  Later in the day, BSU called a press conference to unveil Dirk Koetter as Nutt’s instant replacement.  Koetter promised to bring stability to a team that was fragile after playing for three different coaches in the previous two seasons.

(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.)