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No margin for error—no room for excuses

No margin for error—no room for excuses

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on January 21, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 21 at 10:20 AM

Monday, January 21, 2013.

I rolled out a few of the “watch out” scenarios Friday in advance of Boise State’s game at Air Force.  I honestly didn’t think they’d come to fruition Saturday, though.  Concerns like, “after an exhausting overtime loss to a Top 25 team Wednesday, it would be easy for Boise State to come out flat against a group that lost by 39 points its last time out.”  And, “the Falcons’ 79-40 loss to Colorado State can be seen as an aberration—they beat Nevada by 13 in their Mountain West opener and lost by just five at UNLV last Saturday.”  The biggie: “the moral of the story: if you don’t go into a Mountain West game massively prepared, you can expect massive disappointment.”  And there it was: Falcons 91, Broncos 80.  “In this league, if you don’t bring you’re A-game, somebody’s gonna, and you’re going to be in trouble,”said coach Leon Rice.

Boise State had an excuse there for the taking, but Rice didn’t offer it up as one.  Jeff Elorriaga missed the Air Force game due to a concussion he suffered against New Mexico.  The Broncos could beat Wyoming without Derrick Marks, yet they could not stop the Falcons without Elorriaga.  Not only did Boise State miss Elorriaga’s three-point shooting, they missed his leadership—and the tone he sets on defense.  The Broncos were way out of tune defensively Saturday.  Air Force scored exactly 40 points in a stunning 39-point blowout loss at Colorado State last Wednesday.  The Falcons had that many with 1:51 left in the first half against Boise State.  “It looked like we were moving in sand,” Rice said on his KBOI postgame show.  “And with no bench, that’s a tough thing to change.”

The defeat gives Boise State its first losing streak of 2012-13 and drops its season record to 13-4.  But the Broncos were hardly alone in their high-elevation road misery over the weekend.  No. 15 San Diego State scored nine points (count ‘em, nine) in the first half en route to a 58-45 loss at Wyoming.  And UNLV squandered a late lead at Colorado State and lost 66-61.  It was the Rams’ 24th straight home victory.  “It’s been tough travel this week, and playing in altitude,” said Rebel coach Dave Rice in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  “We were absolutely a tired basketball team.”

The Chris Petersen-to-Oregon thread, the scariest of all the Chris Petersen-to-somewhere scenarios over the past seven years, is officially dormant.  The Ducks did as predicted and elevated offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to head coach yesterday to replace Chip Kelly.  Helfrich, who just finished his fourth season as Oregon’s OC after three years in the same job at Colorado under Dan Hawkins, was quarterbacks coach at Boise State from 1998-2000 under Dirk Koetter and helped develop Bart Hendricks into one of the Broncos’ all-time greats. 

Senior Bowl week begins today for Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor with the North’s first practice this afternoon.  And practice is practically everything.  That’s where the legions of NFL scouts, coaches and player personnel officials scrutinize every rep and record it for draft posterity.  Taylor, considered the Broncos’ only draft prospect this year, led the team with four interceptions in 2012.  He also had 2½ sacks and three forced fumbles.  Last year there were five Boise State players in Mobile: Kellen Moore, Shea McClellin, Doug Martin, Billy Winn and George Iloka.  All but Moore, of course, were drafted.

Our former Bronco NFLer of the Day is an encore, because Martin is going to the Pro Bowl to cap off his rookie year.  With Frank Gore now ticketed to the Super Bowl, Martin will replace the San Francisco star on the NFC roster.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first round draft pick rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 49 passes for 472 yards and another TD this season.  Martin’s 1,926 yards from scrimmage were the third-most in the NFL.  He also set a Bucs’ record by rushing for 251 yards at Oakland in November, in front of a goodly number of family and friends from Stockton.  Martin is the first Tampa Bay running back to make the Pro Bowl in 10 years.

Mike Iupati isn’t going to the Pro Bowl after all.  The former Idaho star has more important things to do, like anchor the San Francisco offensive line in Super Bowl XLVII.  Iupati shook off nerves and an early holding penalty to help pave the way for Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore to guide the 49ers into their first Super Bowl in 18 years.  As exhilarating as the Vandals’ 43-42 win over Bowling Green was in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, uh, this is somethin’ else.  The old term “road-grader” applies to Iupati, who made a smooth transition midseason from the Niners’ traditional run game to the read-option once Kaepernick took over the starting quarterback job.

The takeaway from the Idaho Steelheads-Alaska Aces series over the weekend is that both teams have had to deal with roster chaos upon the end of the NHL lockout—and both have made adjustments to deal with it.  The Steelheads and Aces split their two games, with Idaho getting a glimpse of its new on-ice order.  Forward Tyler Gron made his Steelies debut and indicated that his scoring prowess in the Central Hockey League was no fluke.  Gron tallied twice in Friday night’s 6-2 win.  Recent addition Brett Robinson contributed a goal each night and has four assists in seven games.  Interesting side note on Robinson: he scored the game-winning goal for the Cincinnati Cyclones in the decisive fifth game of the 2010 Kelly Cup Finals versus the Steelheads.  Today the Steelies play a rare Monday game, a Martin Luther King Day matinee on the road at Utah.

Around the Boise State campus, the Bronco men’s tennis team opened its season with 7-0 and 5-2 wins over Montana State and Air Force, respectively.  Boise State’s home win streak has now reached 21 matches.  The 15th-ranked Bronco women’s gymnastics team dominated Utah State in its opener Friday night, 194.875-191.25.  The BSU score was a record for a season-opening meet.  Senior Brittany Potvin-Green won three of the four individual events for the Broncos.

The Boise State wrestling team pounded Arizona State 33-9 yesterday in a Pac-12 meet.  The Broncos forfeited the first two weight classes—then won the remaining eight.  The highlight was the 20-5 victory by Jason Chamberlain, ranked second in the nation in the 149-pound class, over ASU’s Preston McCalmon.  And the Bronco women’s swimming and diving team eased past Wyoming, 192-108, in a meet that featured the annual Big Splash with the Boise State football team.  Corey Bell’s front three-and-a-half edged Charles Leno’s belly flop in the finals. 

This Day In Sports…January 21, 1990:

At the Australian Open, John McEnroe becomes the first player in the Open era to be kicked out of a Grand Slam event for accumulating three behavioral code violations in one match.  In his fourth round match against Sweden’s Mikael Pernfors—up two sets to one but trailing in the fourth—McEnroe was given a point penalty for “racquet abuse”, which handed Pernfors the game, a service break, and a 4-2 lead.  McEnroe, who had an earlier violation for “lineswoman intimidation”, went ballistic, ranting until he was finally disqualified.

(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.)