Wednesday, October 24, 2012.
Right out of the chute at Chris Petersen’s Monday press conference came the subject of this week’s weather at Wyoming. If it’s only going to be 52 degrees in Boise Saturday, what’s it going to be in Laramie? Truth be told, it’s much ado about nothing. It’s going to be 39 today, with an 80 percent chance of snow. It’ll be 32 tomorrow with some more snow possible. But there’s no snow in the forecast Saturday—yet—as it’s predicted to be partly sunny with a high of 40 when Boise State faces Wyoming. It’ll be like the New Mexico game in Bronco Stadium last December, or the November night game against Fresno State the year before. No big deal. Nevertheless, Petersen says the Broncos are practicing outside this week to acclimate, with the exception of one day in the Caven-Williams indoor facility “to get some things going.”
The elevation in Laramie is 7,200 feet, and Wyoming loves to remind you of that. “Altitude’s not an issue,” said Petersen. “It’s never been an issue for us. Weather can be. But both teams have to play in it.” In 2006 it was windy when Boise State eeked by the Cowboys in Laramie, 17-10, during the first Fiesta Bowl season. Jared Zabransky passed for only 116 yards in those elements while Ian Johnson was rushing for 119 yards and the Bronco defense was clamping down on the Pokes. It looks right now like it might be breezy Saturday, but not out-and-out windy.
Petersen has scored well with coaching hires over his first six years at Boise State. With each passing week (no pun intended), it’s becoming clear that secondary coach Jimmy Lake has been one of the best. Lake has his unit glued together, and the Broncos rank seventh in the country in pass efficiency defense with a rating of just 95.6. They’ve allowed just two touchdown passes, only one from a quarterback. “I think our coach, Coach Lake, does a good job of just making us read the quarterback,” said senior cornerback Jamar Taylor after last Saturday’s win over UNLV. “Anytime we can see the quarterback and get breaks on the ball, that’s good. It comes down to good technique, sometimes we’re too high and not ball aware. He does a great job of coaching us to make us ball aware.”
The biggest defensive praise Monday was saved for the linebackers, as Petersen singled out all four regulars—J.C. Percy, Tommy Smith, Blake Renaud and Tyler Gray. If you include the nickelbacks in that group, Dextrell Simmons has to be considered Boise State’s most improved player. There was a huge adjustment for Simmons last year as a transfer from Blinn College in Texas. “Honestly, I just feel like I found my mojo again,” said Simmons. “I took it to a whole new level this year in understanding football.” Simmons has logged 31 tackles, a sack, an interception, and four pass deflections this season. “Once you feel comfortable, you just let it all loose,” he said.
Percy has gone from the periphery to the penthouse in his five seasons at Boise State. The former walk-on from Blackfoot has been named one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, awarded annually to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player. Percy is one of 11 linebackers on the list for the honor named after Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, and he’s the only representative from the Mountain West. He leads the Broncos with 60 tackles this season and has three double-digit tackle performances.
Ben Frederickson of the Casper Star-Tribune reports that Wyoming coach Dave Christensen apologized to Air Force coach Troy Calhoun yesterday for the profanity-laced tirade at the end of the Cowboys’ loss to the Falcons a week and a half ago. Frederickson cited a message Christensen posted to his Twitter account last night that read, “I spoke to Troy Calhoun today and apologized to him. Feel good about our visit. Miss my Cowboys, know I’ll be proud of them Sat. Go Pokes.” Christensen has been suspended for the game against Boise State.
Andy Staples’ Power Rankings at SI.com don’t follow the template you find in the major polls. Example: Staples has Louisiana Tech as his No. 25 team. Writes Staples: “The Bulldogs bounced back from their wild loss to Texas A&M by crushing Idaho, but nothing they can do from this point forward will resurrect their BCS buster chances. Still, they belong in this spot. If you're a fan of the teams just below (next five: Boise State, Texas, Ohio, Penn State, Arizona), ask yourself this: Would you want your team playing the Bulldogs? No. You wouldn't.” I can’t argue with Staples. But the Broncos might.
The scene around Boise State is serene compared to the chaos all around. You have the upheaval at Idaho and the disturbance at Wyoming. Now Idaho State coach Mike Kramer has been suspended while the investigation continues into his two-handed shove that floored wide receiver Derek Graves three weeks ago. Kramer will have to sit out Saturday’s game at Montana and has been issued a letter of reprimand by ISU. Associate head coach Don Bailey, a Bronco assistant during the Pokey Allen era, will be the acting coach for Saturday's game in Missoula. The Bengals are trying to end a six-year, 37-game road losing streak.
The Idaho Steelheads’ game tonight against the Ontario Reign will provide Steelheads center Tristan King with a reunion of sorts. King began last season with the Steelies but was traded away after four games. He spent most of the campaign with the Reign, scoring 17 goals and 41 points in 45 games. King has been similarly productive since rejoining the Steelheads, tallying five goals—including the four that tied the team ECHL-era record last Wednesday at Colorado. Meanwhile, one of the few returning Steelheads from last season is no longer, as the club has traded defenseman Deron Cousens to Greenville. At the same time, forwards Austin Smith and Mathieu Tousignant were reassigned to Idaho from Texas of the AHL. Tousignant played for the Steelheads three years ago, and Smith led the NCAA in goals last season with 36 for Colgate.
It didn’t take long for the Steelheads to land their first ECHL Goaltender of the Week award of the season. And it didn’t go to starter Tyler Beskorowany, but to backup Josh Robinson. As previously chronicled, the 22-year-old rookie out of Michigan Tech made his first two pro starts last week on the road at Colorado, winning both while posting a 1.50 goals-against average and .948 save percentage. Robinson signed an AHL-level contract with Texas last month, and the Stars assigned him to Idaho during training camp.
This Day In Sports…October 24, 1992, 20 years ago today:
The Toronto Blue Jays become the first team outside the United States to win a World Series. The Jays beat the Atlanta Braves in six games, but the final one wasn’t decided until the 11th inning, when 41-year-old Dave Winfield doubled home two runs and Toronto held on in the bottom of the 11th for a 4-3 victory. There was another first, as Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston became the first African American manager to win a World Series.
(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.)