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Reload or rebuild—it’s a matter of semantics

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on September 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Friday, September 28, 2012.

Around the country they like to call this a rebuilding year for Boise State.  Coach Chris Petersen prefers the term “reloading.”  The defense has clearly done the latter, as it’s ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 18 in the nation in yards allowed per game at 297.  The Bronco offense may be reloading, too, but the ammunition hasn’t left the chamber quite yet.  Tomorrow Boise State hopes to keep its vocabulary narrow as conference play begins at New Mexico.  Coaches say the offense’s final two days of practice this week were solid, and that spirits are high among a group that misfired in the 7-6 win over BYU last week.  During the Kellen Moore era, the Broncos faced one great defense out of the gate in the first three games, but never two like they did this year.  Let’s just see what happens from here on out.

If there is indeed a diversification in Boise State’s ball distribution tomorrow, expect Shane Williams-Rhodes to be a part of it.  The offensive staff is slowly increasing his package of plays as his true freshman mind absorbs it all.  The 5-6, 154-poind speedster was in the game against BYU about the same amount as versus Michigan State and Miami (Ohio), he just didn’t get the ball.  Williams-Rhodes was used as a decoy on the fly sweep, and he’ll always be used that way occasionally to divert defenses’ attention to him.  But he remains an explosion play waiting to happen.

The Boise State-New Mexico point spread tomorrow favors the Broncos by 26 points.  That may or may not be accurate, depending on how the BSU defense reacts to a Lobo offense that linebacker Blake Renaud says can be “annoying.”  The triple-option requires a wholesale change in practice for opponents—it takes a lot of extra time to prepare for.  “Just talk to coaches’ wives,” New Mexico coach Bob Davie said in the Albuquerque Journal. “I promise you, the week of those games (against a triple-option team) is the worst week for a coach’s wife.”

Kickoffs have been an interesting animal for Boise State this year in light of the new rule that tees the ball up at the 35-yard line and brings touchbacks out to the 25.  Trevor Harman has three touchbacks on 11 kickoffs this season.  Some of the ones that stay in the field of play are by design; others just don’t make it to the end zone.  But the Broncos have been pretty good on kickoff cover, allowing 20.7 yards per runback.  At New Mexico tomorrow, they’ll face the nation’s leading kickoff returner, Lobo sophomore Chase Clayton.  He’s averaging 43.3 yards per return and took two kickoffs back 98 yards for touchdowns in the opener against Southern University.

Boise State opens its second and final Mountain West season tomorrow.  It may not manifest itself in Albuquerque, but this may become the “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” tour for the Broncos as they depart for the Big East next year after such a short stay in the Mountain West.  Conference play has been good to the Broncos, though.  Combining the WAC and the Mountain West, the Broncos are 81-6 in league play.  New Mexico, by the way, has gone 3-20 in the Mountain West since coach Rocky Long left after the 2008 season.

Not a lot of compelling matchups in the Mountain West this week.  One to watch is San Diego State at Fresno State—the Aztecs are reeling after a home loss to San Jose State last week, while the Bulldogs were stung by a narrow loss at Tulsa.  Fresno State is still trying to find ways to lure fans back to Bulldog Stadium.  After two games of crowds below 28,000, the school is offering $18 tickets for the San Diego State game.

Idaho’s defense has taken a hit with injuries going into tomorrow’s game at North Carolina—not ideal when you’re facing a BCS school in humid environs.  The Vandals have become especially thin at linebacker, as Conrad Scheidt is out with a facial fracture and Su’a Tuala is plagued by a bad hamstring.  Homer Mauga is the only remaining healthy starter at backer.  The secondary is affected, too, with Trey Williams having suffered a sprained ankle on the final play against Wyoming last week.  The Tarheels are a 27-point favorite tomorrow.

There have been lots of player signing in recent weeks with Idaho Steelheads training camp approaching Monday.  But there hadn’t been a goalie until yesterday, when the Steelheads announced the addition of Ryan Zapolski.  He appears to be the man between the pipes, unless the Dallas Stars assign another netminder in the next two weeks.  Zapolski split time during his rookie year last season with Kalamazoo, Toledo, and Gwinnett of the ECHL.  He went a combined 8-4-1 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

It’ll be slim pickins for Boise State men’s basketball on TV this winter.  The Mountain West has unveiled its 2012-13 slate, and the Broncos are included in all of four games.  And that’s just because of the opponent.  Both of Boise State’s games, home and away, versus UNLV and San Diego State made the cut.  Only one, the March 9 tilt against the Aztecs in Taco Bell Arena, will be on a network most fans can find (NBC Sports Network).

This Day In Sports…September 28, 2011:

The Boston Red Sox complete the biggest September collapse in major league history—in stunning fashion.  After leading the wild card race by nine games on Labor Day weekend, the Red Sox lost 19 games during the month to fall into a tie with Tampa Bay going into the final day of the season.  They were one strike away from at least going to a one-game playoff, but Baltimore rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun the BoSox, 4-3.  Just three minutes later, the Rays finished their rally from a 7-0 deficit against the Yankees when Evan Longoria homered in the bottom of the 12th inning for an 8-7 victory.  Boston was in disbelief, and manager Terry Francona and the Red Sox parted ways 36 hours later.

(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.)