Friday, April 12, 2013.
As Boise State’s Blue & Orange Game unfolds tomorrow night, you get the feeling this is Joe Southwick’s offense at long last. The cart has always been before the horse for the Broncos’ senior quarterback. Southwick was highly-touted coming out of San Ramon Valley High in Danville, CA, throwing for 71 touchdowns against only 19 interceptions as a junior and senior. As a true freshman with the Broncos, he prepared for every game and traveled on every road trip in 2009 as the backup quarterback behind Kellen Moore but was never needed, enabling him to redshirt. He threw his first touchdown pass in 2010, a 78-yarder to Chris Potter at New Mexico State. But fans remembered him as much for a fumble at Idaho that was recovered in the end zone for a TD by the Vandals.
Southwick saw more playing time in mopup behind Moore in 2011, completing 77 percent of his passes. But some felt it was a bad omen when he threw a bad interception in garbage time against New Mexico in the regular season finale. Then Southwick took some heat after his first start at Michigan State last August when Boise State failed to score an offensive touchdown—and he infamously slid to a stop a yard short of a first down after a fourth quarter scramble. But Southwick kept a stiff upper lip (before he grew a mustache on it) through some early-season struggles, and the Broncos won every game in September and October.
Now Southwick has caught up to his status as Boise State starting quarterback. He sometimes didn’t look the part last season, but was very much in the groove during the final four games of 2012, when he threw for 888 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Southwick hasn’t taken any big leaps this spring, but coach Chris Petersen wasn’t expecting that. Petersen cautions fans not to discount the importance of the smaller steps. “Joe knows our stuff inside and out, and so it is these little improvements that’ll have a huge effect on our offense,” said Petersen. “He understands that it all has to be good, and the margin of error from good to great is really, really small.”
The Mountain West schedule has finally been released—very late this year due to the unplanned returns of Boise State and San Diego State to the conference. The Broncos’ marquee home games are Friday, September 13, against Air Force and Saturday, October 19, versus Nevada. There will, in fact, be three Friday night games this season, with the September 20 clash at Fresno State joining the previously-announced October 25 matchup at BYU. The trickiest game on the slate might be October 12 at Utah State. The game against the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl champion Aggies promises to be a lot different than what Boise State is accustomed to in Logan. The Broncos have scored 149 points combined in their last three visits to Romney Stadium.
Boise State’s last three games of the regular season this year are the same as they were in the Broncos’ first year in the Mountain West in 2011—in a slightly different order (home against Wyoming, at San Diego State and home versus New Mexico). The inaugural Mountain West championship game will be staged December 7 at the site of the divisional champion with the highest BCS ranking. Could Boise State and the Aztecs play a rematch just two weeks after their regular season showdown November 23 in Qualcomm Stadium?
College of Idaho coach Mike Moroski has attended most of Boise State’s spring practices, and yesterday his new offensive coordinator was alongside. Tim Keane has been hired as Moroski’s first assistant, bringing more of those UC Davis roots to the Treasure Valley. Keane was offensive line coach for the Aggies the past three seasons. He also played center for Davis, anchoring the O-line during the biggest win in school history, a 2005 triumph at Stanford.
Idaho’s third of four spring scrimmages (including next week’s Silver & Gold Game) is set for tomorrow. The spotlight will be back on the quarterbacks, only two of whom played in last week’s 170-play test of endurance. Chad Chalich wasn’t as accurate in that one as in the first scrimmage, going 22-of-45 for 252 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Taylor Davis was also under 50 percent at 15-of-31. The wild card remains Josh McCain, a dual-threat QB who will join the Vandals for fall camp from DeAnza College in Cupertino, CA. McCain was recruited by new coach Paul Petrino in his Arkansas days.
The Idaho Steelheads have kept the Colorado Eagles wondering in the Kelly Cup Playoffs series that resumes tonight at CenturyLink Arena. Eleven different Steelheads have scored goals in the five games to date and 14 of the 20 skaters that have played have registered at least one point. Adrian Foster has totaled seven points in the series, third in the ECHL in the postseason. Tyler Gron and Austin Fyten each have six points, and Austin Smith and Matt Case have contributed five apiece. The Steelies, holding a three games-to-two lead, try again to advance in the playoffs tonight after absorbing a 7-4 pounding at Colorado Tuesday night.
With Josh Robinson called up to Texas of the AHL, the Steelheads have added rookie goaltender Joe Howe to the roster to back up Tyler Beskorowany. Howe just complete his career at Colorado College, where his 3,199 career saves rank third in school history—ahead of former Steelheads goalies Richard Bachman and Matt Zaba. Steelhies play-by-play man Will Hoenike e-mailed me his own Scott Slant Trivia question: When was the last time Idaho had a goaltender called up during the playoffs? Answer: In 2010, when Bachman was summoned during the Western Conference Finals. Rejean Beauchamin took over and was between the pipes through the Kelly Cup Finals. One other hockey note: former Steelies coach John Olver, who led the Junior Steelheads to a national championship this week, is the new general manager of the Bakersfield Condors.
This Day In Sports…April 12, 1954:
The Minneapolis Lakers defeat the Syracuse Nationals 87-80 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. And April 12, 1958: The St. Louis Hawks beat the Boston Celtics to win the NBA championship in six games. It was nice when basketball season ended when basketball season should end. These days Game 7 of the NBA Finals coincides with the beginning of summer.
(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.)