Thursday, November 8, 2012.
One of the natural storylines going into last week’s Boise State-San Diego State game was last November’s struggles in the defensive backfield when the Broncos were missing both Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins. Turns out short-handed Boise State didn’t face those secondary issues after all (that was the least of its worries). And the Broncos may not have that concern Saturday at Hawaii, as the Warriors are ranked 117th in the country in pass efficiency with a rating of just 100.7.
Boise State held up well against the pass despite the absence of the suspended Lee Hightower and the injured Bryan Douglas. Aztec quarterback Adam Dingwell managed just 105 yards through the air, with Hightower’s replacement, Darian Thompson, picking off his team-leading third interception of the season. Taylor and Gavins held down their corners. Filling Douglas’ role of spelling Gavins was Donte Deayon, who shed his redshirt year last week. Deayon played about 15 anonymous snaps on defense—and anonymous is good.
It’s an interesting time for a Jeremy Ioane homecoming in Hawaii Saturday. Ioane is coming off a much-scrutinized personal foul in the San Diego State game that gave the Aztecs a first-and-goal on what would ultimately be their winning fourth quarter drive. Ioane forced a fumble three plays later at the one, but San Diego State recovered. The damage had been done. Ioane hopes to play physical but clean when he returns to Oahu, where he played high school football at Punahou. He’s had a sound sophomore season in his first year as full-time starter at strong safety, logging 48 tackles and two interceptions, including the pick that went 43 yards for a touchdown in the opener at Michigan State. The Broncos just have to keep Ioane reeled in.
As a season grinds on, sometimes earlier injuries—and the effect they have on the team—are forgotten. The departures of Douglas and Mike Atkinson are still fresh. Tight end Gabe Linehan, the edge-setter in Boise State’s running attack, has been out since the New Mexico game September 29, though, and he has been missed. Linehan was also a credible threat as a pass-catcher. The Bronco tight combined have only 12 receptions this season for 163 yards. Also missed is wide receiver Mitch Burroughs, who has been gone since the Southern Miss game October 6. Burroughs had become a go-to receiver the past two years and was in the midst of a strong senior season.
Coming off Boise State’s special teams nightmare against San Diego State, the health of Hawaii star cornerback and kick returner Mike Edwards has been of interest this week. Edwards underwent an MRI Monday to evaluate a left shoulder injury he sustained on a kickoff return last Saturday at Fresno State, but he has been cleared to play against the Broncos. His name doesn’t rhyme with “Colin Lockett,” but his stats do. Edwards is 12th in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 29.3 yards. The one-time Tennessee Volunteer has helped UH to an average yield of 203 yards through the air this year, a decent number.
Trivia question: Who’s the first player in college football history to spend his entire career on two different fields not colored green? It’s Jimmy Pavel, the former Boise State backup kicker who’s now at Eastern Washington. Pavel’s foot has helped the Eagles make another run at the FCS Playoffs this year, making 15 of 16 field goal attempts. He was 12-of-13 on extra points of 1-of-2 on field goals in spot duty for the Broncos in 2009 and 2010. But a story in the Spokane Spokesman-Review says “injuries and disagreements with his special teams coach pushed him to trade blue turf for red.” Still a walk-on, Pavel won Eastern Washington’s starting placekicker’s job this season after a battle from spring ball through fall camp. “It’s been more than I could ask for,” said Pavel. “I decided I didn’t want to play at a big school again.”
Boise State’s received a lot more publicity via the Doug Martin story this week than anything it did on the football field last Saturday. Martin, the Tampa Bay running back, has been named NFC Player of the Week for his 251-yard explosion at Oakland last Sunday that included three long touchdown runs. Martin hit another milestone in the game (they seem to keep materializing)—he’s only the second player in the 47-year Super Bowl era to rush for more than 250 yards and four TDs in a game. Pat Yasinskas writes that “Doug Martin-mania continues to grow.” Yasinskas is going to run an ESPN SportsNation poll to pick a new nickname for Martin, who he says doesn’t like “Muscle Hamster.” Darn.
The Idaho Steelheads have now gone eight straight games without falling in regulation, beating Bakersfield 6-3 last night in CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads wore the Condors down in the third period after beginning the frame nursing a 3-2 lead. In fact, Kael Mouillierat almost did that single-handedly, scoring twice in the third to record a hat trick. With 44 shots on goal, the Steelies kept the pressure on the Bakersfield net all evening, even when they weren’t supposed to. Idaho’s special teams took the penalty-kill to the ultimate, getting short-handed goals from Mouillierat and Justin Dowling. That gives the Steelheads five short-handers already this season. The Steelies and Condors play again tomorrow night and Saturday night.
One column in the box score that bears watching when Boise State opens its men’s basketball season Sunday is three-point shooting. The Broncos started strongly from beyond the arc a year ago, but they were 2-of-16 from three-point range in their exhibition win over Saint Martin’s last Friday. And the guy the Broncos depend on for a lot of long-range points, Anthony Drmic, was 0-for-5 on threes. Drmic is still getting his rhythm back after a bout with appendicitis and a rolled ankle this summer in his native Australia.
Tonight it’s the first Battle of Canyon County this season, as Northwest Nazarene visits the College of Idaho. The United Heritage Insurance Mayors’ Cup in Caldwell marks the 191st or 193rd meeting between the old foes, depending on which school’s figures you use. The C of I-NNU series began in 1933, with the Coyotes knocking off the Crusaders, 23-16. NNU has won the last four. Just as as in each of the past three seasons, the home team will use the game as a counter in its record, while the road team will count the game as an exhibition.
This Day In Sports…November 8, 1980:
In a showdown for the Big Sky lead at sold-out Bronco Stadium, two of the greatest running backs in Big Sky history face off against each other: Boise State’s Cedric Minter and Nevada’s Frank Hawkins. Hawkins carried the load for the Wolf Pack and had more yards, but Minter made the most of his carries—notching another 100-yard day and scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown in a 14-3 BSU victory. The Broncos would go on to win the Big Sky title and the Division I-AA national championship.
(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.)