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The occasionally forgotten factor on offense

The occasionally forgotten factor on offense

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on August 24, 2012 at 7:17 AM

Friday, August 24, 2012.

Great play from the tight end position has characterized Boise State’s 13-year run of excellence.  So much is asked of that group, yet its role in college football’s top-scoring offense of the past decade is often underappreciated.  These days, the tight ends are overseen by Scott Huff.  But their demands from the staff go beyond Huff.  Chris Strausser wants them to be offensive linemen and set the edge.  Robert Prince wants them to catch like wide receivers.  The Broncos line them up sometimes three at a time.  They go into pre-snap shifts more than any other position.  But it’s been a well-stocked unit for years.  As one departs from the top of the ladder, another magically appears at the bottom and starts working his way up. 

Now it appears to be Gabe Linehan’s time on the top rung.  Linehan enters his junior year with a playmaking reputation after scoring six touchdowns as a freshman and sophomore, good production for a tight end.  The 6-4, 241-pounder runs good routes, partly because he knows how to help quarterbacks and separate from linebackers—he played both those positions in high school.  Back at tight end this season, theoretically, is senior Chandler Koch, who filled in at fullback last year for the injured Dan Paul.  There are two up and coming freshman at the spot, Hayden Plinke and Holden Huff.  Plinke, who could redshirt this year, grabbed a long pass from Jimmy Laughrea in last Saturday’s scrimmage and took it 75 yards to paydirt.  Plinke wasn’t lumbering, either.  Huff has been a standout during both spring football and fall camp.

The three most prominent tight ends of the new century (not including Richie Brockel, who became more of a fullback) have all been Treasure Valley guys: Jeb Putzier and Derek Schouman from Eagle High and Kyle Efaw out of Capital.  Putzier and Schouman were drafted into the NFL, and Efaw is trying to catch on with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent.  There’s another local tight end waiting in the wings, Kyle Sosnowski.  The Capital High grad isn’t bubbling under as a starter yet, but he did get in with specific personnel groups last year and did make two catches for 11 yards.

William Gholston.  William Gholston.  William Gholston.  That’s the name you’ll be hearing a lot over the next week as Boise State gears up for Michigan State next Friday.  Gholston, a 6-7, 275-pounder who’s affectionately called “Big Will,” is the anchor of what is considered the best defensive line in the Big Ten. And Gholston is considered the top NFL prospect among Big Ten D-linemen.  He recorded 16 tackles-for-loss for the Spartans last season, including five sacks.  Gholston will be a handful as he and his teammates try to get inside the head of an untested Bronco quarterback (Joe Southwick or whomever).  "The style that we want to play is very simply smashmouth,” said Gholston.  “We want to hit you and keep hitting you and keep hitting you and wear you down as the game winds down."

The release of quarterback R.J. Archer yesterday by the Detroit Lions doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a spot on the 53-man roster waiting for Kellen Moore.  But it does tell us that Moore’s overall ability as a football player has won out—and that Archer was, perhaps, just a practice body for the Lions.  Moore’s status as Detroit’s No. 3 quarterback has been solidified, though he could still land on the practice squad.  That would be a gamble, as any NFL team could sign him away.  Moore and the Lions will be in Oakland tomorrow night to take on the Raiders.

Too bad it was in the preseason, because it won’t count.  But former Boise State star Daryn Colledge had his first NFL reception last night in Arizona’s 32-27 loss at Tennessee.  Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb had a pass attempt batted straight up in the air, and Colledge corralled it and bulled his way two yards for a first down.  Ex-Bronco Nate Potter played much of the fourth and for the Cards and appeared to acquit himself well.   Former BSU standout George Iloka did a lot of things last week that don’t show up in the box score in Cincinnati’s win over Atlanta.  No word yet on what Iloka did last night that may not have been evident in the stats—the box score says he had one tackle in the Bengals’ 27-13 loss to the Packers.

After 59 years, high school football in the city of Boise goes home tonight.  Dona Larsen Park opens with the Boise-Borah game on the site of the old East Junior High School—more significantly, the site of the old Public School Field.  It was there the Boise schools played from 1924 through 1952 before moving to the old wooden Bronco Stadium in 1953.  Boise, Borah and Capital segued over to the current Bronco Stadium in 1970, and it was a good fit back then with its original capacity of 14,500.  High school football was still a huge draw in the city.  But as Bronco Stadium expanded, and interest in Boise State football siphoned off fans, the facility became cavernous.  Dona Larsen Park, capacity 5,200 (slightly more with temporary seating tonight) is the right size at the right time.

The Boise Hawks’ magic number is down to two in the Northwest League East Division race after they unleashed another 11-run, 17-hit outburst on Vancouver last night.  Albert Amora, the Cubs first round draft pick this year, went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in as the Hawks improved their second half record to 20-10.  Willson Contreras and Trey Martin added three-hit games for the Hawks.  Hayden Simpson, a first round draft pick in 2010, got his first start of the season after working out of the bullpen all summer.  Simpson got the win, allowing three runs on six hits over five innings and striking out seven.  Last night’s victory guaranteed Boise a rare winning record on its annual Western Idaho Fair road trip, which wraps up Sunday.

Graham DeLaet’s start wasn’t quite as strong this week at The Barclays.  The former Boise State star, playing in two consecutive PGA Tour events for the first time since the beginning of July, bogeyed the second, third and fourth holes at Bethpage on the way to a four-over 75 in yesterday’s first round.  DeLaet sits in a tie for 104th—it’ll take a Herculean round today for DeLaet to make the cut.

New Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph must have seen something on tape he liked from last spring’s Kelly Cup Playoffs.  Ralph has signed forward Joe Pereira, who was acquired from South Carolina late last season and tied for the Idaho lead with four goals in eight playoff games.  The Steelies have also picked up rookie forward Josh Currie, who at 19 will be one of the youngest players in the ECHL when the season begins October 12.  Currie starred in junior hockey last season, scoring 30 goals for Prince Edward Island in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

This Day In Sports…August 24, 1952:

The birthday of one of the NFL’s most respected coaches.  Mike Shanahan’s first head coaching job was with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988-89, but he clashed constantly with owner Al Davis and was fired after 20 games.  Shanahan found his niche with the Denver Broncos, which he led to Super Bowl titles after the 1997 and 1998 seasons.  He’s now head coach of the Washington Redskins.  And did you know?  Shanahan once coached in Bronco Stadium—as running backs coach at Northern Arizona during a 26-13 loss to Boise State in 1977.  Mike Shanahan…60 years old today.

(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.)