Tuesday, December 18, 2012.
It was a rare sight at a Boise State press conference, especially considering what’s happened the past two years at this highly-skewered position. But there was kicker Michael Frisina yesterday, a very open, engaging guy as he fielded questions from the media. Frisina won the placekicking job over Dan Goodale in fall camp and has been under the microscope since his first boot at Michigan State. The senior from Brea, CA, has made 12 of 17 field goal attempts and 41 of 42 extra points this year. All five of his missed field goals have been outside 30 yards, but he hasn’t tried one from that distance since October 20. Frisina is ready to attempt a longer one again in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Saturday against Washington. “That’s just how the chips have fallen,” he said of his lack of kicks from further out.
Frisina says most people on campus don’t know who he is, so he doesn’t get bugged about being Boise State’s kicker. Especially with his 5-5 height. At the beginning of the semester, Frisina had to hand all his professors a list of dates he was going to be out of class this fall. According to Frisina, one instructor looked at the sheet and asked, “Oh, what are you traveling for? You in the band?” Frisina doesn’t mind scrutiny at all, though. “It’s all on you,” Frisina said of his role. “That’s part of what makes this position. To be a kicker, you’ve got to like the spotlight.” Coach Chris Petersen said he’s talked to Frisina about what could come down the pike against Washington. “I think it’s going to be really important to finish this thing out the way he’s been going,” Petersen said. “This might come down to a field goal or two.
Petersen doesn’t like the layoff following the regular season finale, but the one good thing about it is getting some key components healthy. One is nickel Dextrell Simmons, who didn’t play at Nevada in the regular season finale. “Those hamstring things can take a long time,” said Petersen. Another is wide receiver Mitch Burroughs, who had a one-play cameo on Senior Day versus Colorado State and played sparingly against the Wolf Pack. Burroughs is full-go in practice with a brace on his wrist now. “Mitch is really catching the ball well,” said Petersen. The coach also threw in wideout Kirby Moore on his injury list, saying it was unbeknownst to most. “Kirby played half the season with a cast on his hand, and he’s made some clutch, clutch catches for us,” Petersen said. “We finally got that thing off.”
In his Husky football blog in the Seattle Times, Bob Condotta reviews Washington’s 2008 recruiting class, a good chunk of which is making its final appearance Saturday in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. There are two interesting names on the list. One is Dominique Blackman, the quarterback who ended up at Idaho and began this season as the Vandals’ starters before self-destructing. Blackman, of course, was kicked off the UI team for failed drug tests. Another one of Washington’s 2008 newcomers was offensive tackle Terence Thomas out of Caldwell High. According to Condotta, Thomas “never saw action for UW and retired prior to 2010 season due to foot injuries.”
The Boise State running back stable will be full next season if all the pieces fall into place. Derrick Thomas, a 6-2, 215-pound horse out of Butler County Community College in Kansas (same junior college as Demarcus Lawrence), has committed to the Broncos according to Scout.com. Thomas had 115 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries in one game this fall. He’ll join Jay Ajayi and Jack Fields from this year’s active roster and redshirt Devan Demas for spring football. Incoming freshman Aaron Baltazar has verbaled and will join the group this summer. It’s been a long time since Boise State brought in a JC running back. The last one Antwaun Carter for the 2004 season. There’s another new junior college commitment, this one from cornerback Cleshawn Page of Los Angeles Harbor College. That gives the Broncos five JC transfers.
Petersen was all smiles when talking about two of his former assistants taking FBS head coaching jobs the past week. “Good luck—have fun,” quipped Petersen. “Be careful what you wish for.” One-time offensive line coach Sean Kugler is the new head man at UTEP, and former offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has taken over at Arkansas State. What did Petersen tell Harsin? “If you haven’t signed it, run while you still can!” joked Petersen. To be sure, though, he is excited about his protégés. Petersen said he didn’t want to say anything since nothing’s been announced by Harsin, but he intimated you can expect some names familiar to Boise State fans to pop up on the Red Wolves staff. Former Bronco quarterback Taylor Tharp was a grad assistant for Harsin this season at Texas.
When you start to accumulate star power in the NFL, you acquire a target on your chest. The New Orleans Saints made stopping Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin a priority Sunday, and they were successful. The former Boise State great managed only 16 yards on nine carries in the Buccaneers’ 41-0 whitewash loss. Martin had been averaging about 10 attempts a game, but when the Bucs fell behind 24-0 at the half, it took him out of the game plan. And this was against what was one of the NFL’s worst rushing defenses coming in. Martin has now rushed for 1,250 yards in his rookie season. One underappreciated stat for Martin: he has fumbled just once all year in 273 attempts.
It was hard to ignore Anthony Drmic’s night against LSU last Friday, and the Mountain West did not. Drmic is the conference’s Player of the Week after putting up a career-high 34 points in the 89-70 win over LSU. Drmic was not only hot as a pistol, going 12-of-18 from the field and 6-of-10 from three-point range, he was high-energy, taking charges and going after loose balls. It’s the Australian’s first Mountain West honor and comes two weeks after teammate Derrick Marks was named Player of the Week for his 35-point outing in the upset at Creighton.
Drmic and Boise State face Idaho Thursday night in the second annual Bronco-Vandal neutral-court holiday happening, to be played this year at CenturyLink Arena. The facility will be split into blue-and-orange and silver-and-gold sides. Last year the crowd was pretty evenly divided when 7,540 fans turned out for the Broncos’ 76-73 win at the Idaho Center on New Year’s Eve. If only for a night, both programs will have a Northwest TV presence, as Root Sports has picked up the game.
As always, the Idaho Steelheads are experiencing AHL-induced roster churn. But it doesn’t seem as bad this season as it did a year ago. Maybe it’s because the Steelheads are so much deeper now and can withstand the callups of guys like Kael Mouillierat. Now Steelies defenseman Hubert Labrie, who’s under contract to the Dallas Stars, has been reassigned to Texas of the AHL. In 22 games with Idaho this season, Labrie has two goals, three assists, and a plus-10 rating to go along with 46 penalty minutes. The Steelheads play at Utah tomorrow night.
This Day In Sports…December 18, 1932, 80 years ago today:
The Chicago Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans, 9-0, in the first NFL game ever played indoors. It was a one-game playoff, moved because of a huge storm in the Windy City. The Chicago Stadium floor was covered with dirt because a circus had just appeared there, and the field was only 80 yards long. (Sounds like some of the old Big Sky basketball games at Montana State’s Brick Breeden Fieldhouse when it was primarily a rodeo arena.)
(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.)