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The gradual segue from spring ball

The gradual segue from spring ball

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant

KTVB.COM

Posted on April 17, 2013 at 7:21 AM

Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

This time of the year we kind of wean ourselves off Boise State spring football.  Today we do it with a position wrap, looking at an offensive line that would appear to be unsettled on the surface.  But that group had a nice outing in last Saturday’s Blue & Orange Game.  The O-line allowed only two sacks and—with an expressed goal this year of improving the ground attack—paved the way for a running game that averaged almost four yards a carry.  That’s a good number in spring ball, when the defense is traditionally ahead of the offense.  And that was without Charles Leno, who was held out of the game.  It was telling that coach Chris Petersen included three offensive linemen among the guys he said had good springs: Rees Odhiambo, Travis Averill and Mario Yakoo.  It was Odhiambo who moved to the left tackle spot with the first team in place of Leno.

The last three left tackles to start at Boise State went on to the NFL: Daryn Colledge, Ryan Clady and Nate Potter.  Does Leno have a chance to follow them?  He’s taken major steps each year he’s been a Bronco, starting at right tackle as a sophomore and moving to the left side last year.  Leno, who has started 26 consecutive games, was second-team All-Mountain West last season.  If the 6-4, 294-pounder matriculates to first-team all-conference as a senior, he may have a shot at the next level as one of those new-fangled, quick-footed, athletic O-linemen.

So Oregon is graciously offering to put itself on two years probation and give up one scholarship per year over three seasons for major recruiting violations?  And Boise State had to relinquish three scholarships per year and three full-contact practices every spring—for guys sleeping on couches?  Wow.  The Ducks meet with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in June, two years after the Broncos did.  Okay, NCAA, you go do your thing.

Jamar Taylor remains a popular commodity going into next week’s NFL Draft.  The former Boise State star did not make SI.com’s new list of the top 40 prospects in the draft, but he has a lot of teams discussing him.  The Atlanta Falcons’ name, and their need for a top-flite cornerback, has come up often in conjunction with Taylor.  Pat Yasinkas, who blogs about the NFC South for ESPN.com, talks about the contention that the Falcons would trade up in the first round to get Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant.  I’m not a big fan of that move,” writes Yasinskas.  “I’d prefer to see the Falcons stay at No. 30 and get Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor.  Some scouts I’ve talked to like Taylor better than Rhodes and Trufant.”

The Idaho Steelheads have been here before, but not with the team as we know it now.  The Steelheads beat Ontario, their ECHL Western Conference semifinals opponent beginning Friday night, three games to two in a best-of-five first round playoff series last April.  For the sake of reminiscing, Idaho goalie Jerry Kuhn recorded a 46-save shutout in the decisive fifth game, a 5-0 Steelies win at Ontario.  Not only is Kuhn not around anymore, just two Steelheads who played in that 2012 series are, Matt Case and Hubert Labrie.  Make no mistake, though, the Steelheads are glad they still have Case.  The 27-year-old Minnesotan leads all ECHL defensemen in post-season scoring with five points.

Some vintage Idaho Steelheads grit has made physical waves in the NHL this season.  Tampa Bay’s B.J. Crombeen, Minnesota’s Zenon Konopka, and Nashville’s Richard Clune are all in the NHL's top 10 in penalty minutes.  And Crombeen and Clune rank 1-2 in the league in fighting majors.  Crombeen was part of Idaho's 2007 Kelly Cup championship team, Konopka was on the Steelheads’ 2004 title team, and Clune played for the club five seasons ago.  Also, former Steelie netminder Richard Bachman was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week for last week.  Bachman won all three of his starts for the Dallas Stars, stopping 79 of 82 shots with a 1.08 goals-against average.

Last week Meridian’s Alexi Micinski was a rare Idaho representative in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces In The Crowd” feature.  In the latest issue another Treasure Valley stalwart made the cut in a weekly staple of SI.  I don’t know if anyone local has ever been quoted in the magazine’s “They Said It” (I certainly can’t recall one), but there he is—Boise State men’s tennis coach Greg Patton.  SI found this Pattonism irresistible when the Davis Cup came to Boise: “It’s so cool.  It’s like Jesus and the Virgin Mary are coming here for a concert, and they’re bringing the Beatles with them.”

Also from the “nuggets that have slipped through the cracks” department, former Nevada star Colin Kaepernick saw his popularity go stratospheric once he took hold as San Francisco’s starting quarterback.  And it hit a crescendo at Super Bowl time.  Kaepernick’s No. 7 49ers jersey ended up the fourth-most purchased in the past year through the NFL’s official website, NFLShop.com.  Kaepernick ranked behind Robert Griffin III (who set an all-time record for jersey sales), Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis, and ahead of Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers.

One of the subjects of yesterday’s “This Day In Sports” item in this column was the fourth anniversary of John Madden’s retirement as an NFL television analyst.  It was mentioned that Madden made his mark working alongside Pat Summerall on CBS and Fox.  And it was yesterday that Summerall passed away at the age of 82.  His New York Giants football card was one of the first I ever owned as a young lad.

This Day In Sports…April 17, 1976:

Future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton can’t get out of the second inning, and by the end of the third the Phillies trail the Cubs 12-1 at Wrigley Field.  Then the Phils mounted the greatest comeback in National League history, actually taking a 15-13 lead in the ninth before Chicago tied it in the bottom of the inning.  Philadelphia won it in the 10th, 18-16.  Another future Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt, hit four consecutive home runs in the game.

(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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