Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
I was surprised by the attention paid to Saturday’s Boise State “black-out” yesterday when Lee Hightower and Chris Petersen met the media. And I was surprised that Petersen not only didn’t deflect talk of the promotion, he embraced it. And it’s because of the specially-designed Nike uniforms for this week’s game against UNLV. The Broncos have been through the uniform thing before (witness the Pro Combat design for the Virginia Tech game two years ago), so Petersen isn’t worried about distractions. “I think one of the good things is we’ve already released ‘em,” Petersen said of the unveiling to the team last Wednesday. “I think it’s great. I think it’s kind of fun. It’s not our school color, but that’s okay.” Petersen will re-direct his guys if necessary. “They don’t need to be thinking about the unis. They need to be thinking about playing a football game.”
Petersen says the UNLV game was chosen because of “the timing of when we thought the uniforms would get here.” But it’s a good fit for the black-out. The Rebels won’t create the buzz that BYU and Fresno State did, and if Boise is an event town (here we go again), this will certainly be considered an event. It’s also homecoming at Boise State. It’s not quite the tradition it is on other campuses, and the black-out gives it a boost. Hightower sees the black uniforms as a reward. “I think it’s just a tribute to the people who played before me,” said Hightower. “I never imagined it or really pictured it, but it’s really awesome. It’s cool.”
Oh, football. Fresno State did a good job of corraling Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick in last Saturday’s 20-10 victory. He was held to a season-low 113 yards and his lowest completion percentage since Opening Night at Michigan State. Southwick didn’t hit the 100-yard mark against the Bulldogs until there were 14 minutes left in the game. A deep ball or two would have changed that dramatically, but the Broncos didn’t hit one. Petersen, naturally, was asked about that yesterday. “I do remember this exact conversation a couple years with Kellen Moore,” he smirked. Petersen said the Fresno State secondary had a lot to do with it, but he understands the discussion. “It’s low percentage,” said Petersen. “You’re not going to hit a lot—but you’ve gotta hit some. Do we still have to work on some timing on some deep balls? No question about it. We do.”
Petersen had a two-pronged observation on the Boise State offensive line. “I think we took a step forward,” said Petersen. But he still appears to be frustrated over negative plays in the running game. It comes down to holding blocks, something the O-line thrived at for stretches against Fresno State. But then there were some second and third down plays that went nowhere. “It’s going to take some seconds to stay on that guy—stop penetration and not take a hit in the backfield,” said Petersen. One thing’s for sure: he does not pin it on D.J. Harper, who continues to impress him. Harper, by the way, has moved into the top 10 in career rushing at Boise State. He’s ninth with 2,191 yards.
One of the more talked-about plays from the Fresno State game was Trevor Harman’s punt-run-punt-run-punt decision on a rugby punt rollout in the third quarter. Petersen initially thought Harman should have tried to run for the first down but said the film showed him what Harman saw. The junior punter ended up kicking off-balance—and the wobbler bounced and rolled 46 yards. Harman always has the option to take off and run during a rugby punt. That was the original purpose of the tactic, to keep the punt return team guessing. “Coupled with multiple formations, that’s hard to defend,” said Petersen.
This Saturday will mark the second and final home game of October for Boise State. And that brings up another streak. Not only have the Broncos won 45 games in a row in the month of October dating back to 2001, they haven’t lost on the blue turf in October since a 21-13 loss to North Texas in 1998, a streak of 31 straight. That was a bizarre game. It was the year before Boise State got the steamroller going. The Mean Green was leading 14-13 and was driving with a couple minutes left, and the Broncos were out of time-outs. Coach Dirk Koetter knew his only chance of winning was to let North Texas score—then try to tie it with a touchdown and two-point conversion. That’s what Koetter did, but the final drive fizzled.
Remember when Air Force came to town last year, with the band and the flyover and the standing ovation in Bronco Stadium? Well, that wasn’t exactly the atmosphere at the end of Air Force’s 28-27 win over Wyoming Saturday in Laramie. At the end of the game, Cowboy coach Dave Christensen got into a heated argument with Falcon coach Troy Calhoun, who described it as "probably not a conversation that I'd have with my mom." Christensen was upset about an apparently-injured AFA quarterback Connor Dietz being tended to on the field for a long time—then leaving for one play. Christensen felt the Falcons used the time to devise the next play, which went for the winning touchdown with backup QB Kale Pearson. The Mountain West has issued a public reprimand to Christensen for “comments disparaging a fellow member institution.”
Word from the Idaho postgame show Saturday that athletic director Rob Spear is closing in on a 12-game independent schedule for 2013 rings hollow in light of the utter futility that is the Vandals’ 2012 season. A 1-6 record that could become 1-11 in the next five weeks is making it ever more difficult to sell the idea that there’ll be an FBS conference home for Idaho in two years if there is, as the university hopes, another conference shakeup. “We’ve got a long road ahead of us if we don’t figure something out,” Spear told Vandal play-by-play man Tom Morris. The AD was referring to this week’s game at Louisiana Tech, but he could have been talking about the next two seasons.
The last time we remember seeing Reggie Theus, he was coach at New Mexico State and was accosting Boise State’s Coby Karl under the basket after a hard foul by Karl in the 2007 WAC Tournament. Since then, Theus has had a two-year stint as head coach of the Sacramento Kings and two years as an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After a season off, Theus is back in the pro game, announced yesterday as the new head coach of the L.A. D-Fenders of the D-League. He’ll pace the sideline at CenturyLink Arena when his team faces the Idaho Stampede in February. In fact, the Stampede open the season against Theus and the D-Fenders on the road November 28.
Now that both League Championship Series are underway, we know that there will be one former Boise Hawk in the 2012 World Series. Whoever it is will represent the American League as a reliever. The Yankees have Clay Rapada, who faced one batter in both Game 1 and Game 2 of the ALCS. Detroit has Al Alburquerque, the one who angered the Oakland A’s by kissing the baseball during play in the Divisional Series. He’s the subject of the “Tweet of the Week” in this week’s Sports Illustrated from columnist Ray Ratto: “Little-known fact: the Tigers’ Al Alburquerque and the ball had been secretly dating since May.”
This Day In Sports…October 16, 1962, 50 years ago today:
Second baseman Bobby Richardson catches Willie McCovey’s wicked line drive with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the winning runs in scoring position, as the New York Yankees hold on to beat the San Francisco Giants in the seventh game of the World Series, 1-0. I was in a sixth grade classroom in the Bay Area, where everything had shut down to watch or listen to the drama. That day, there was indeed crying in baseball.
(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.)