Wednesday, August 28, 2013.
One year ago, Boise State was going into its first game without Kellen Moore at quarterback since 2007. But that was only the beginning. The Broncos went to Michigan State with a first-time offensive coordinator, Robert Prince, and a new quarterbacks coach, Jonathan Smith. What’s it like having those two (plus QB Joe Southwick) with a season of evolution under their belts? Coach Chris Petersen’s answer is obvious. “That’s a nice feeling,” said Petersen. “That feels more solid across the board. Jonathan Smith has done a great job with those guys. And coach Prince—second year now—that makes a difference.”
The Prince-and-Smith factor is important for the Boise State offense. And how is it for that guy who started his first game at quarterback on ESPN in East Lansing? “It is different—very comfortable,” said Southwick. “Everyone’s on the same page with what we’re trying to get done. I think there’s something to that.” Petersen feels backups Grant Hedrick and Nick Patti have improved as much as Southwick has. And Prince still doubles as wide receivers coach, his job before the promotion to O.C. He has developed some good ones who are still on the roster, including Matt Miller, Kirby Moore, Geraldo Boldwijn and Aaron Burks.
Outside of a lack of touchdown passes, there was nothing wrong with Joe Southwick’s body of work last season. A lot has been made of his 888 yards over the final four games, including nine touchdowns and no interceptions. In tandem with that comes this stat: Southwick has gone 131 straight passes without a pick. And he didn’t lose a fumble last year. So the ledger at the end of the night will be telling in Seattle. In the 17-13 loss at Michigan State in 2012, the Broncos mustered only 206 total yards, while Southwick was going 15-of-31 for 169 yards with an interception. It was the only game of the season he completed fewer than 50 percent of his throws. Expect a better start for the Boise State offense Saturday night at Washington.
The wild card for the Boise State offense is the Justin Wilcox factor. Wilcox, the former Bronco defensive coordinator who now holds the same post at Washington, is renowned for devising special schemes for big games. In 2008 there was the “spy guy” plan, rotating defenders assigned to Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, befuddling him into a 19-for-50 day. And, of course, the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, when Wilcox redesigned the Boise State defense into a 4-1-6 of sorts to completely throw TCU’s Andy Dalton out of rhythm. Now Wilcox faces his old buddies, who defeated his Huskies 28-26 last December at the Las Vegas Bowl. He was still D-coordinator for the Broncos when Southwick was a true freshman and redshirt freshman and knows him pretty well. What is Wilcox dialing up now?
There’s a chance of showers today, tomorrow and Friday in Seattle. But Saturday’s weather is supposed to be sunny with a high of 79, and a dry track is expected for the Boise State-Washington game. That’s slightly warmer that six years ago when the Broncos first faced the Huskies at Montlake. Of course, this time it’s a night game. And a 79-degree day with adult beverages could have a crowd of 70,000-plus relatively lubed up for an 8 p.m. local kickoff.
Titus Young’s last chance has come and gone, and now he’s a wanted man. Judge Andre Manssourian had given the troubled former Boise State wide receiver passes from his June 24, July 2 and August 6 hearings on the 11-count case against him resulting from a crime spree in May. “This is the last time,” Manssourian said three weeks ago. The judge continued to hold a $100,000 bench warrant on Young but said he must show up in court the next time. Well, the next time was yesterday, and Titus wasn’t there. Manssourian has issued the warrant and revoked Young’s bail, although Young’s attorney, Altus Hudson, says the court knows where Titus is and doesn’t expect him to be arrested.
Let’s get some basics on North Texas, where Idaho opens the 2013 season Saturday evening. This is the first meeting between the two schools since a 51-29 Mean Green win in 2004, when both were Sun Belt compadres. UNT has not been able to get its mojo back since a string of four straight New Orleans Bowls a decade ago. But former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney has brought some stability to Denton, going 9-15 in his first two seasons. The Mean Green returns a two-year starter at quarterback, Derek Thompson, who has thrown for 4,551 yards and 26 TDs in his career. And Thompson has four of his top five receivers back this season (there are eight returning starters on offense overall). North Texas is favored over the Vandals by 15 points Saturday.
The NFL transaction list was a half-mile long yesterday as clubs got down to the required 75 players, but there was only one Idaho tie on it. Former Idaho standout Korey Toomer has been placed on the reserve/non-football injury list by the Seattle Seahawks. That means Toomer is still part of the team and will draw a paycheck. Players with that designation can be promoted to the active roster by the sixth week of the regular season—or placed on injured reserve.
The Northwest League South Division will be settled on the field the next six days. The Boise Hawks return home from their Western Idaho Fair road trip tonight to face the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, one of the teams in a first-place tie with the Hawks. The other one, the Hillsboro Hops, visit Memorial Stadium Saturday to wrap up the regular season with a three-game Labor Day weekend series. If Salem-Keizer wins the South’s second half, the Hawks are in, because the Volcanoes won the first half, and the division’s other playoff representative is the one with the next-best overall record. That is Boise, currently 40-30. But if the Hops win the second half, they are in the postseason, the Hawks are done, and Hillsboro faces Salem-Keizer in the playoffs.
The count and the amount is now 497. That’s the combined experience in AHL games Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph has on his training camp roster after signing defenseman Carl Sneep yesterday. Sneep was a part of two collegiate national championship teams at Boston College before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round in 2011. He actually has an NHL game under his belt, too, notching an assist two seasons ago. Sneep has played 133 games in the AHL, 31 of them split between the Texas Stars and Peoria Rivermen last season. He also skated for Wheeling in the ECHL in 2012-13.
Former Boise State standout Eric Roberson and playing partner Yasmin Schnack have their first round opponents set in the first round of mixed doubles at the U.S. Open. Roberson and Schnack, who qualified for the main draw through qualifying last weekend, will face Janette Husarova and Filip Polasek of Slovakia. Roberson’s four-year Bronco career ended in 2008 after he was part of three WAC championship squads. Elsewhere, John Isner and Sam Querrey, who both represented the U.S. in the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Boise in April, advanced to the second round of men’s singles yesterday.
This Day In Sports…August 28, 1943:
Lou Piniella is born. Piniella managed five big league teams and guided one of them, the Seattle Mariners, to one of the most magical seasons in major league history in 2001, with 116 victories. He also managed the Cubs, Devil Rays, Yankees and Reds, winning the 1990 World Series with Cincinnati. Before becoming a skipper, Piniella hit .291 in a playing career that covered 16 full seasons, the last 11 with the Yankees. He had a .319 average in four World Series with the Yanks. Lou Piniella…70 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.)