Monday, March 12, 2012.
It’s a time that’s been both dreaded and anticipated. The opening day of spring football for Boise State. For the first time since 2007, there’s no Kellen Moore around. But a four-way battle to become the Broncos’ new starting quarterback will ensue, and it should be fascinating. Whoever survives will have earned it—and will have grown exponentially by the time he takes the first snap at Michigan State in 7½ months. What’s Chris Petersen want to see out of the quartet? It’s pretty simple. “What we expect them to do is run our offense in the most efficient, productive way possible,” said Petersen. “We’ll tailor our offense to whoever our quarterback ends up being.” So feel free to form your mini-version of an NCAA Tournament pool. You already have your Final Four: Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea and Nick Patti.
“The reps are going to be watered down,” said Petersen. That’s not the ideal situation, but that’s not going to make Boise State rush the process. “It’s easier if you know who your guy is,” said Petersen. However, he says, “We won’t have a guy coming out of spring.” I went through the “what’s gone/what’s back” routine on Sunday Sports Extra last night as I often do at this time of year at different positions. There’s never been one quite so stark, though. With the departure of Moore, the Broncos are losing 14,667 passing yards and 142 touchdowns. What’s back among the returning QBs? That would be 419 yards and two touchdowns.
But you’ve gotta love the rushing comparison. Kellen ran for minus-133 yards in his four-year Boise State career (although he did score three touchdowns). Southwick has 47 career rushing yards—and hey, Hedrick ran for 70 yards and a TD last year, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. Repeat quote: “We’ll tailor our offense to whoever our quarterback ends up being.” Change is coming, and the process begins today with the first of 15 spring practices. The Broncos plan to hold seven of their allotted practices before spring break and eight after.
So next spring (or at least in fall camp) will it be Southwick, Hedrick, Laughrea, Patti…and Ryan Finley? It looks that way, with the commitment of Finley to Boise State’s 2013 recruiting class. Now, assuming the commitment sticks for the next 10½ months, will the 6-4, 180-pounder from Paradise Valley, AZ, be the Broncos’ only quarterback signee next February? BSU is off to a good start for the 2013 class—Finley joins Fruitland High standouts Joey Martarano and Alec Dhaenens on the commit list. It was about this time last year that cornerback Marcus Rios became the Broncos’ first verbal for 2012, but Rios eventually de-committed and ended up at UCLA.
The Mountain West indeed landed four teams in the NCAA Tournament again yesterday. This year, that’s half the conference. New Mexico won the Mountain West championship Saturday night and is the No. 5 seed in the West. The Lobos meet dangerous Big West champion Long Beach State in Portland Thursday. UNLV was seeded No. 6 in the South and San Diego State is the same in the Midwest. The Rebels face surprise Pac-12 champion Colorado in Albuquerque Thursday. The Aztecs meet North Carolina State Friday in Columbus. And not only did Colorado State get in the tournament, the Rams earned a No. 11 seed in the West. And they’ll play one of the most interesting games of the first two days of the Dance, facing Murray State in hostile Louisville Thursday.
Idaho will meet up with an old Big West compadre in the College Insider.com Tournament. The Vandals host UC Santa Barbara in Cowan Spectrum Wednesday night in the first round. Idaho and UCSB were in the Big West together for nine years, with the last meeting coming in 2005 before the Vandals moved to the WAC. Both teams finished the season strong. Idaho won seven of its last nine, falling to Hawaii in the WAC Tournament, UC Santa Barbara won five of its final six games after making it to the Big West title game, where it lost to Long Beach State.
The Idaho Stampede made exactly as many field goals as Bakerfield Saturday—and exactly as many three-pointers. Too bad there’s a thing in basketball called free throws. The Jam canned 23-of-29 from the charity stripe while the Stampede made just 7-of-14 attempts, and there you have your 16-point margin in Bakersfield’s 111-95 victory. Idaho finishes its five-game road trip with a contest in El Segundo against the L.A. D-Fenders tonight. With 10 games remaining, the Stampede must win out now to achieve a winning season.
The Idaho Steelheads had their own problems with Bakersfield Saturday night in CenturyLink Arena. Four different times the Steelheads, trying to complete a three-game sweep, held a one-goal lead over the Condors, and four times the visitors rallied to at least tie the game. The last tie was one that sunk the shoulders of a team that has seen this happen too often this season—it came on a Bakersfield goal with just 54 seconds remaining to force overtime. And the Condors won in a shootout, 6-5. The Steelies loss spoiled the first two-goal night in Patrick Kennedy’s career. Kennedy’s second tally had given Idaho a 5-4 advantage with seven minutes left. The Steelheads are right back on the ice tomorrow night at Ontario.
Boise State came out of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with an All-American. Senior Mele Vaisima finished sixth in the women’s weight throw to earn automatic honors. Vaisima’s throw of 65 feet, 10½ inches was the second best in her career behind the school record mark of 69-8¼ when she won the Mountain West title two weeks ago. The Broncos’ Kurt Felix had been second after the first day of the men’s heptathlon Friday, but he dropped out after no-heighting in the pole vault on a bad ankle. All in all, it was a sterling weekend on the Jackson’s Indoor Track at the Idaho Center. Florida, led by one-time Gator running back Jeff Demps, won the men’s national championship. Oregon took the women’s title.
The Boise State men’s tennis team got to play on its favorite home courts Friday and Saturday at the Appleton Center, and the Broncos responded with victories of 7-0 over Montana and 5-2 over Cal Poly. The Saturday match against the Mustangs started off dicey. Coming into the match, the Broncos were 0-5 when losing the doubles point and 11-0 when winning it. Well, they lost it. And Cal Poly snapped up a win in No. 1 singles to take a 2-0 lead. But BSU stormed back from there, with most attention focused on the No. 2 singles duel between the Broncos’ very vocal Damian Hume and the Mustangs’ very vocal Brian McPhee. Hume won in three sets to improve to 7-0 on the season.
This Day In Sports…March 12, 1988:
March 12, 1988: Boise State wins its first Big Sky championship in 12 years by taking the conference tournament title game in Bozeman. With the score tied at 61, Chris Childs drove the baseline and hit a layup with two seconds left to beat Montana State, 63-61. It was the Broncos’ 24th win of the season, a school record that would stand for 20 years, and sent them to the NCAA Tournament for a first-round game against Michigan.
(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.)