Wednesday, September 18, 2013.
Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick is coming off two career benchmarks, the five touchdown passes against Tennessee-Martin and the school pass percentage record versus Air Force. Both performances came in games the Broncos were expected to win handily. Safe to say Southwick would trade them for a road win Friday night over a rival that would be considered an upset (Fresno State is favored by four points). Coach Chris Petersen knows excellence in accuracy will be harder to come by. “The coverage will be tighter,” said Petersen. “It’s an athletic secondary—they’re aggressive.” Southwick’s pass efficiency rating, an anemic 89.4 in the forgettable opener at Washington, has risen to a respectable 150.4 for the season. He’ll have to be really good in Fresno to keep it there.
Petersen faulted Boise State’s wide receivers as much as Southwick for the sub-par passing game at Washington. Junior Matt Miller’s group took it to heart. “It’s something we’ve had on our minds, getting the separation and making the throws easier for Joe,” said Miller, he of the 10 catches against Air Force last week. But he acknowledges it was just a small step. “If we just get better day by day, we’ll be happy at the end of the season,” he said. Miller was impressed with Southwick’s command versus the Falcons, adding, “He was making all the right reads.”
So, with Southwick on a mini-roll going into Friday’s showdown, the mustache is staying. “That mustache is serious business,” Petersen grinned. “If it helps him complete 27 passes, that’s serious business.” Southwick’s mustache is controversial, though. Oh yeah. I was talking to a 91-year-old great grandmother who watched the game on ESPN last week. “Well, I don’t think it looks particularly good on him,” she said.
The significance of Boise State’s 35-30 stunner over undefeated, eighth-ranked Fresno State in 2001 is not lost on Fresno. Never has been. The quarterback for the Bulldogs that night was David Carr, who would go on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft the next spring. Carr will be one of three honorary captains for Friday night’s game (along with Lorenzo Neal and Dwayne Wright). That’s one of the features Fresno State hopes will draw fans out of the woodwork. As of last night, less than 6,000 tickets remained in 41,031-seat Bulldog Stadium, and the school is expecting a run on those over the next two days. Fresno State has not had a home sellout since 2008 against Wisconsin.
Of course, Carr’s younger brother Derek is the current quarterback at Fresno State. There’s the well-known story that had David hanging a Boise State flag in Derek’s room—and requiring him to leave it there until he beat the Broncos. A year ago, with Boise State still set to bolt to the Big East, Derek thought it would be his last chance. Then the Broncos downed the Bulldogs 20-10 on the blue turf. Now Carr has one more shot at Boise State after all (maybe two if the Bulldogs and Broncos make the Mountain West championship game). Nevertheless, the flag is gone. He joked this summer at Mountain West Media Days about his dog jumping up and ripping it down but said it was actually his doing. Carr felt like it had become a distraction to the team.
The eight-mile alley between Moscow and Pullman is a busy stretch of highway this week, as the 91st Battle of the Palouse is set for Saturday between Idaho and Washington State. But not as busy as the olden days. Back when this game was played annually, the losing team’s student body would have to walk to the campus of the winning team. That was usually Idaho, as the Vandals trail the series 70-17-3. But UI coach Paul Petrino can remind his team that the Vandals beat the Cougars in back-to-back years in 1999 and 2000—at a time when Mike Price was still WSU coach and the Cougs were pretty darn good. Hard to believe it’s been six years since these two teams have played. Washington State won the last one, 45-28.
Ever since Dan Hawkins was abruptly fired by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes August 1, we’ve wondered what the heck happened. Hawkins was on KTIK’s Idaho SportsTalk yesterday and talked about the business of pro football. “You keep throwing yourself out there and try new experiences, and it doesn’t always come up aces,” said the former Boise State coach. About the only hint he dropped had to do with the Alouettes’ 41-year-old quarterback, Anthony Calvillo, who was widely reported to be unhappy with the offense. “A sense of urgency there—(they) wanted to get something done with the quarterback,” Hawk said.
Hawkins will go back into the broadcast booth for the time being and will do the Wyoming-Air Force game Saturday night on ESPNU. He says he’s “kind of a bullpen guy” for the network right now. Hawkins warmed up by serving as radio analyst for the Bishop Kelly-Skyview matchup two weeks ago with the inimitable Dave Skinner. There was no talk of the Boise State-Fresno State game this week. Hawkins, of course, was at the helm when the Broncos staged the monumental upset of the Bulldogs in 2001.
“One more week! Let’s do this!” tweets Graham DeLaet on his website. DeLaet has one monstrous tournament to go in his breakthrough 2013 season, the PGA Tour Championship beginning tomorrow in Atlanta. The pairings were finalized yesterday—since there are only 30 golfers left, they’ll be twosomes—and for the second straight week DeLaet will be playing with Phil Mickelson on Thursday and Friday. The former Boise State star’s focus has been on winning the FedExCup since opening the playoffs with third and second-place finishes, and it could happen with a big weekend from the Meridian resident and Saskatchewan native.
Third straight holiday extravaganza coming up for the Broncos and Vandals. This time it’s a different holiday, as the Boise State and Idaho men’s basketball teams will face off the night before Thanksgiving at CenturyLink Arena. The past two games in the non-conference series have been good ones—the Broncos edged the Vandals 76-73 on New Year’s Eve in 2011 and had to rally past their rivals 78-68 five days before Christmas last year. Idaho will play a second in-state game at CenturyLink Arena on December 20 when it faces Idaho State.
Former Boise Hawk Ronny Cedeno, in his ninth major league season, has been a journeyman. But experience counts for something. Cedeno is now a San Diego Padre after spending the first half of the season with Houston. Last night he was playing against one of his five former teams, one with plenty at stake right now. Cedeno went 3-for-4 and made two spectacular defensive plays at shortstop as the Padres stifled Pittsburgh on its home field for the second straight game, 5-2. The loss dropped the Pirates a half game behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. Cedeno played for the Hawks’ 2002 Northwest League championship team.
This Day In Sports…September 18, 2003, 10 years ago today:
Michelle Wie makes history at the Albertsons Boise Open, becoming the first female amateur to tee off in a PGA-sanctioned tournament. And Wie wasn’t just any amateur—she was a 13-year-old ninth-grader who drew huge galleries to Hillcrest Country Club and coast-to-coast attention to Boise. But she didn’t make it to the weekend, doomed by a first round 78 and finishing second-to-last in the Nationwide Tour event. Now 23, Wie has a grand total of two career victories on the LPGA Tour.
(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.)