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The Battle of the Wildcats

The Battle of the Wildcats

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant

KTVB.COM

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 19 at 10:43 AM

 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012.

Boise State and BYU have different offenses to show you Thursday night on the blue turf.  But there’s one thing they both like to do: run the wildcat formation.  The Broncos have been utilizing it with wide receiver Chris Potter and running back D.J. Harper so far.  Quarterback Grant Hedrick, who had a wildcat package designed for him last year, hasn’t run it yet this season (he took snaps in mopup last Saturday against Miami).  But coach Chris Petersen says the offense still has things dialed up for Hedrick.  Potter and Harper operated the wildcat masterfully last week, highlighted by Potter’s last-second pitch that Harper took to the end zone from 11 yards out.  Potter’s running the option as well as he did when he quarterbacked Oaks Christian High School in Southern California the season after Jimmy Clausen went to Notre Dame.

Potter embraces the wildcat’s role in the Boise State offense—and the fact that several players can run it.  “I think it’s a lot harder to scheme on us when we have so many different options,” said Potter.  And he’s looking forward to the twists and turns to come.  “Each week it’s going to be fun to test some new things and fine-tune the old ones,” the senior said.  Potter threw passes in high school—will he pull up out of the wildcat and toss one for the Broncos?  “If it comes, I will welcome it,” said Potter.

There’s no such drama in BYU’s version of the wildcat.  The Cougars will throw out of it, and Pocatello’s Taysom Hill will do the passing.  The former Highland High star is playing football for the first time in three years—he committed to Stanford out of high school, went on an LDS mission to Australia, and transferred to BYU.  He’s technically third on the depth chart behind Riley Nelson and James Lark, but offensive coordinator Brandon Doman inserted Hill into the opener against Washington State early in the second quarter in the wildcat.  Hill called an audible, rolled right, and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass.

BYU insists it has moved past last Saturday’s 24-21 loss at Utah, the one with the fairly bizarre ending.  There will be no hangover, according to Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall.  “Literally, it’s really hard for anyone else to understand,” Mendenhall said after practice Monday.  “As a coaching staff, that game already seems like it was weeks ago.  We’ve put so much into Boise State already that until I get asked like this, I really don’t think about it.  There’s no time to think about it.”  The fact that Boise State hasn’t lost at home in September in 11 years doesn’t faze the Cougars.  “As far as we’re concerned, I don’t care how many wins they have on their field,” said linebacker Spencer Hadley.  “We have a game against Boise State on Thursday and we’re going to go do our best to win it.”

BYU will be paying attention tomorrow night to Boise State wide receiver Matt Miller, who has caught at least one pass in all 15 games of his career to this point.  And the Broncos will know where Cougar wideout Cody Hoffman is at all times.  Hoffman has a streak of 22 straight games with a reception.  He’s a big target at 6-4, 215 pounds, and will be a handful for the Boise State corners, 5-11 Jamar Taylor, 5-9 Jerrell Gavins and 5-9 Bryan Douglas.

Boise State wide receiver Aaron Burks accumulated 58 total receiving yards in 2010 and 57 in 2011.  He had 67 yards last Saturday alone against Miami (Ohio), including a game-turning 53-yard grab on a bomb from Southwick near the end of the first half.  It came on a 1st-and-24 from the BSU 38 after a personal foul had been called on Boise State fullback Dan Paul.  The Broncos were trailing 9-8 and had already shot themselves in the foot three times in the first half.  Was it a coming-out party for the junior wide receiver who’s been waiting in the wings so long?  “Gosh, we’re hopin’,” said Petersen.  “Aaron’s been a hard-worker a long time around here.”  Petersen said it’s always been about the details for Burks, and now he’s getting them down.

The uneasiness continues in Moscow.  Idaho athletic director Rob Spear told the Spokesman-Review in Spokane last week that he still hasn’t been able to finalize the Vandals’ 2013 football opponents beyond the four games he’s already announced.  In mid-August Spear said he wanted to wrap up next year’s independent lineup the week after Labor Day.  He does say he has pending contracts for eight games, including a home-and-home series with New Mexico State during the same season.  But his timeline for completion has been pushed back two months by a series of obstacles.

Idaho may be getting Wyoming at the right time this week.  The Vandals, despite a 63-14 setback last Saturday at LSU, are encouraged by the progress they’re making.  And the Cowboys are a bit down after falling at home to an FCS school in a 24-22 loss to Cal Poly.  The Pokes’ offense is really struggling, and the reason is obvious.  Quarterback Brett Smith, the Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season, has been out since suffering a head injury in the fourth quarter of Wyoming’s 34-31 loss to Toledo a week and a half ago.  Coach Dave Christensen says Smith is doubtful for Saturday’s game in the Kibbie Dome.

Former Boise State star Titus Young, surrounded by high expectations this season in Detroit, is off to a slow start with the Lions.  In two games, Young has just two catches for 25 yards.  Reviews are not glowing in the Motor City.  Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News writes, “He didn't have any personal fouls Sunday, but the Lions are still waiting for Titus Young to grow up.  It's hard to call Young the goat in a 27-19 loss in San Francisco when he had only three official targets, but on two nullified passes to the end zone, the second-year wide receiver came up short on effort.”

New Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph continues to piece together his roster with training camp around the corner.  Ralph has signed forward Andrew Carroll, who spent most of the last two seasons in the AHL.  He skated in 68 games with the Hershey Bears last season and racked up 138 penalty minutes.  His did more scoring in the ECHL the previous two campaigns, netting 40 goals in 78 games with Charlotte and Greenville.

This Day In Sports…September 19, 2005:

September 19, 2005:  One of the most unique days in golf—not only here, but anywhere.  In the Kraft/Nabisco Shootout, the skins game for charity that precedes the Albertson’s Boise Open, the field included the tournament champions from the day before on the PGA, LPGA and Nationwide Tours.  Jason Gore, Annika Sorenstam and Troy Matteson won those respective titles.  Also playing the event were Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis, stars of America’s win in the Solheim Cup earlier that month, and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster.

(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.)

 

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