Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
As Michigan State has hunkered down to study Boise State’s offensive schemes the past few weeks, what could it possibly make of them? It’s a given that the Broncos’ approach is going to change with Kellen Moore gone, and Joe Southwick presenting different strengths. Sure, the Spartans have a new quarterback, too, in Andrew Maxwell. But Maxwell will pick up where Kirk Cousins left off. The change at Boise State is more radical, especially with the elevation of Robert Prince to offensive coordinator and the addition of Jonathan Smith as quarterbacks coach. So is defensive preparation for this game tougher for Michigan State than BSU? “That’s a good question,” said coach Chris Petersen. “I think everybody’s really focused on themselves. We have to make sure we’re as prepared as we want to be and let our guys play fast.”
Everybody’s anxious to see what Prince and Smith bring to the table. “Coach Prince—that dude has a lot of energy,” Southwick said. “It’s a lot of fun to be around a guy with that much energy.” Now, how will that morph into the Broncos’ playbook? Smith’s under almost as much pressure as Southwick, as he’s the guy who’s had to groom Kellen Moore’s replacement. But it sounds like the QBs are ready to go to battle for him. “I love coach Smith,” said Southwick. “He’s an outstanding coach—cares about us as people.”
From the list of names you should know Friday night comes Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State’s starting tailback. You think Jay Ajayi looked good in a Boise State uniform at the scrimmage a week and a half ago? Wait ‘til you see Bell wearing green on his 6-2, 245-pound frame. “He’s one of those special guys with that size that can move like that,” said Petersen. Bell began last season behind Edwin Baker, who had brashly set goals of 2,000 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. It was Bell who carried the MSU load by midseason, though, and he amassed 948 yards and 13 TDs. He’s 33 pounds heavier than Bronco defensive end Sam Ukwuachu.
Stewart Mandel’s “College Football Overtime” column at SI.com this week is headlined “Year of unprecedented change not dampening enthusiasm for kickoff.” One of Mandel’s prominent storylines: “No Moore for Boise.” Mandel has picked up on that misleading stat—the one that says the Broncos have the fewest returning starters in the country at six. But he has an understanding of it. “Few of the replacements are green, because Boise employs deep positional rotations and pulls its starters from so many conference blowouts,” writes Mandel. “Guys like D.J. Harper, Kirby Moore and J.C. Percy are de facto returning starters.” Mandel does sound the alarm over the quarterback and defensive line spots, though. “Even with a 73-6 record the past six years, many still view Boise as a cuddly underdog. For once, that may actually be accurate.”
Kellen Moore is fielding questions this week not only about his prospects of making Detroit’s 53-man roster, but also his thoughts on Friday night’s Bronco-Spartan Game. What will Boise State do without him? "Oh, they'll be just fine. Don't worry," Moore told Graham Couch of mLive,com. "I know I'm in Michigan. I'll probably get attacked or something. But I'll still be for Boise." Moore said Boise State relishes these early season opportunities. "We understood the value, that certain games for us were going to be put on a pedestal," Moore said. "And when you're on ESPN on a Monday night (a Friday, in this case) and you're the only game on TV, you'd better take advantage of it."
Today marks the first big NFL cut deadline, as clubs have to pare their rosters down to 80 players. “The Turk” has already begun work, with one of Boise State’s 26 players in NFL camps having been released. Aaron Tevis was cut by the New Orleans Saints after not having played in the Saints’ last two preseason games. Former Borah Lion Caleb McSurdy, the Montana linebacker drafted in the seventh round by Dallas in April, was also cut yesterday. McSurdy tore his Achilles in a Cowboys preseason game 10 days ago. Dallas waived former Idaho offensive lineman Tyrone Novikoff yesterday as well. Friday is the big day—that’s when rosters go to their final 53-man size.
Idaho is taking nothing for granted in its season opener against Eastern Washington Thursday night in the Kibbie Dome. The Vandals are wary of the Eagles, who are one season removed from their FCS national championship in 2010. EWU is the pick to finish second in the Big Sky this year, while Idaho is hungry for a good start this season after the disappointing opener versus Bowling Green last September, a 32-15 loss that had a lasting effect. The last time Eastern Washington visited Moscow in 2003, it marked the beginning of the end for the Tom Cable era. The Eagles beat the Vandals, 8-5.
It’s unclear whether this was Brent Pease’s idea or not, but the new Florida offensive coordinator will have alternating quarterbacks on the field Saturday when the Gators open against Bowling Green. Coach Will Muschamp says one of his QBs, Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel, will play the first quarter, and the other will play the second. Then Muschamp says he and Pease, in his first year as O-coordinator since coming over from Boise State, will evaluate the situation at halftime. Brissett and Driskel have been neck-and-neck since winter conditioning.
The Boise Hawks return from their Western Idaho Fair road trip tonight, and here’s hoping they go out in a blaze of the glory at the gate as they play their final five games of the regular season at home. These guys deserve it. This has turned into a really good team. Boise went an abysmal 13-25 in the first half of the season, but then the turnaround began, with chemistry at the core. And the result has been a second half title in the East Division and a trip to the Northwest League Playoffs next week. Now the Hawks are trying to get that old feeling back. In the 1990’s, the Hawks’ four championship teams really fed off the crowds, which were larger and louder. Time for fans to go retro—and show up in big numbers.
The way the Hawks have been going yard this season, this was news. The Hawks went homerless in during their five-game series in Vancouver despite winning three of five. Boise has hit 60 home runs this season, led by Rock Shoulders and Daniel Vogelbach with nine apiece. Vogelbach has clubbed all of his since late July, when he joined the team from Mesa. The five-game series against Everett that opens tonight could be wild—the AquaSox are second in the Northwest League behind the Hawks with 55 homers.
Two-time World Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski and Oregon golf coach and former PGA Tour member Casey Martin will stay the week in Boise after playing in the Michelob Ultra Shootout September 10. Sadlowski and Martin have accepted sponsor invitations to play in the 23rd annual Albertsons Boise Open. Sadlowski made the cut at Hillcrest Country Club last year. Martin last played the Boise Open in 2005.
This Day In Sports…August 28, 1992, 20 years ago today:
The Milwaukee Brewers pile up an American League record 31 hits in a 22-2 walloping of the Blue Jays at the SkyDome in Toronto. It was the most hits in a major league game in 91 years. Almost as amazing was the fact that 26 of the hits were singles. The Brewers hit only one home run, a two-run shot in the first inning from future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.
(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.)