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Trudging on in the Bronco trenches

Trudging on in the Bronco trenches

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on April 9, 2013 at 7:37 AM

Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

The final week of spring ball is here at Boise State. and all appears to be well with the much fretted-over defensive line.  The worry has been how the Broncos would fill the tackle position with Mike Atkinson, Greg Grimes and Darren Koontz having departed.  This is where statistics can be deceiving.  Atkinson, he of Canadian Bacon fame, recorded only 2½ sacks during his career.  When you add in the numbers from Grimes and Koontz, Boise State loses 7½ career sacks and two fumble recoveries. 

Granted, the Bronco returnees on the D-line are heavily-weighted toward the defensive end spot, but there are so darn many of them.  The only true tackles are incumbent senior starter Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and sophomore Armand Nance.  But JC transfer Duece Mataele is turning heads this spring, Englishman Elliot Hoyte is turning his rugby skills into football skills, and junior Tyler Horn is getting comfortable inside.  There's a logjam on the outside between Demarcus Lawrence, Sam Ukwuachu, Kharyee Marshall and Beau Martin.  The bottom line for the returning members of this group shows a pretty good pedigree—32½ sacks and 11 fumble recoveries. 

Marshall has been an interesting sidebar coming out of winter conditioning.  For all practical purposes, he’s the guy who allowed Horn to move from end to tackle when Atkinson was lost for the year last November.  Marshall would be, in terms of size, the precedent for the wiry Ukwuachu.  At a spring football press conference three years ago, Chris Petersen was asked (as always) if any new faces had stood out during drills.  Instead of going the politically correct route and naming a plethora of redshirt freshmen, then wondering aloud whether he missed anybody, Petersen instantly blurted out, “Kharyee Marshall—he has done a phenomenal job.”  At that time we noticed Marshall, then 6-1, 207 pounds, standing next to Tjong-A-Tjoe, then 6-3, 282, on the right side of Boise State’s second-team defensive line.  Man was that an odd pairing. 

Now Marshall is listed at 240 pounds (eight pounds heavier than Ukwuachu).  There’s no substitute for the speed that Marshall brings to the table.  He used it to log 32½ sacks in high school and even rushed for 275 yards and five touchdowns as a prep senior, averaging 5.3 yards a carry.  The problem has been injuries.  Marshall missed time during his freshman and sophomore seasons—and offseasons—with two knee surgeries and a shoulder surgery, then he exited the Wyoming game last October with a leg injury.  If Marshall could deliver a healthy senior year, he can live up to Petersen’s props in April of 2010.

The worse that can happen to the Idaho Steelheads tonight is to be sent back to Boise with a three games-to-two lead in the ECHL Western Conference quarterfinals.  But they’d rather wrap up their Kelly Cup Playoffs series against the Colorado Eagles with a win tonight in Loveland, CO.  Bit by bit, talent is filtering back to the Steelheads from the AHL, the latest additions being forward Andrew Carroll and defenseman Gord Baldwin.  Both played in the two weekend wins over the Eagles, with Carroll, having traveled cross-country from his stint with the Connecticut Whale, contributing an assist and seven penalty minutes.  We’ll see who coach Brad Ralph starts between the pipes tonight—Josh Robinson hasn’t played since last Wednesday, as Tyler Beskorowany took care of business in Games 3 and 4.

It’s worked out well for Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals this September.  At the end of its win over the U.S. Sunday afternoon, the Serbian team didn’t know if it would be Canada or Italy it would face in September.  “Hopefully it's going to be against Canada in Belgrade in front of 20,000 Serbian people,” said world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.  If the Italians had won in Vancouver, the Serbians would have had to travel to Italy for the semifinal tie.  But the Canadians were indeed victorious Sunday, moving to the World Group semis for the first time in history.  Serbia will have a monstrous home court advantage.

Thanks to a three-game winning streak to end the season, the Idaho Stampede did not end up recording the second-most losses in franchise history.  The Stampede went 19-31, with the losses equaling three teams, all from the CBA era.  The record for defeats in a single season was set in the 1999-2000 season, when coach Russ Bergman was fired after a 9-17 start and was replaced by Rory White—and the Stamps finished 19-37.  This season was Mike Peck’s first as coach after his wildly successful stint at Findlay Prep outside Las Vegas.  Peck and the Stampede, transitioning all winter to the Portland Trail Blazers system, finally found some rhythm down the stretch, going 5-2 from March 23 on.

It doesn’t take much to connect the dots now regarding the January suspensions of Boise State players Kenny Buckner, Derrick Marks, Mikey Thompson and Darrious Hamilton.  This morning’s Statesman story on the arrest of Buckner Saturday for petit theft reports that all four basketball teammates were charged with petit theft in January.  Arrested with Buckner Saturday was Bronco women’s basketball player Brandi Henton, the Mountain West Newcomer of the Year.  Henton has been suspended indefinitely, according to the Statesman.

Just when former Boise Hawk John Lackey looked like he’d launch a comeback with the Boston Red Sox, his immediate future is in doubt.  Lackey lasted 4 1/3 innings in his first start Sunday at Toronto before feeling something give in his throwing arm.  It’s been diagnosed a biceps injury with no tear revealed by an MRI.  The injury is not connected to the Tommy John surgery that sidelined Lackey for 17 months.  The Red Sox will monitor the 34-year-old righthander—manager John Farrell says Lackey won’t be needed in the rotation again until this Sunday.

Alexi Micinski may have relocated to Park City, but Meridian is still listed as her hometown as this week she becomes one of the rare Idahoans to make the “Faces In The Crowd” feature in Sports Illustrated.  Here’s the passage: “Alexi, a senior at USSA Team Academy (Park City, Utah) and a U.S. Freeskiing Rookie Team member, won the slopestyle event at the World Cup finals in Sierra Nevada, Spain, scoring 82 points to beat out the U.S.’s Julie Marino and New Zealand’s Anna Wilcox.  It was her first international victory, which she followed a week later with a slopestyle silver medal at the junior worlds at Chiesa in Valmalenco, Italy.”  Alexi will be well worth following in this space next winter.

This Day In Sports…April 9, 1993, 20 years ago today:

An Opening Day crowd of 80,227 at Mile High Stadium greets the Colorado Rockies, as big league baseball comes to Denver with an 11-4 Rockies rout of Montreal.  But the big story was the crowd—as it would be all season.  The Rockies drew almost 4½ million fans that year, a major league record, averaging 56,751 a game.

(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.)