Friday, September 14, 2012.
I tend to weigh in on everyone else’s attendance. I’d better weigh in on Boise State’s. There’s been a lot of angst this week about that fact that tomorrow’s Miami (Ohio) game is not going to sell out. There was shock at the beginning of the week when it was revealed there were 3,000 seats left. Some called it “pathetic.” Up until recently there were TV commercials advertising season tickets, and there are still spots pushing seats for tomorrow’s clash. What’s interesting is, the Broncos could still draw a record crowd. Bronco Stadium capacity is up to 37,000. Boise State has already set a new mark for season tickets at more than 24,000.
Call it reloading, but Boise State football is in a period of transition, and it has affected buzz in the community. The teams of the past four years had star power that this year’s squad doesn’t have, at least not yet. Think of the guys who literally became household names: Kyle Wilson, Kellen Moore, Austin Pettis, Titus Young, Doug Martin, Shea McClellin, Billy Winn, and so on. It comes down to this. I’ve said many times that there are only three true football towns in the West. Eugene, Provo and Missoula—those are your big three. If Boise was to really be the fourth, tomorrow’s game would have sold out some time ago. But that’s okay. Everything will be just fine. Heck, there could be 35,000 there manana.
Boise State would do well to go back to one of its basic tenets tomorrow and stop the run. And this is a week it could happen. Miami (Ohio) has rushed for 100 yards as a team only four times in the past 14 games. One of them was last week, keyed by Spencer Treadwell, coach Don Treadwell’s son, gaining 73 yards. But that was against Division I-AA Southern Illinois. The Bronco defense should be able to get after the run in this one. Then we’ll see what happens with RedHawk quarterback Zac Dysert. He’s piled up mega-stats the past three years, but one is interceptions…41 of them.
So that brings us to the Boise State defensive line, the first group the Miami running backs will meet tomorrow. It didn’t play badly at Michigan State. “Nice job out of the gate,” said coach Chris Petersen. “If we can continue to grow there, we’ll be in a nice position.” The growth comment applies directly to defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence and Sam Ukwuachu, who moved into the starting lineup this week. Petersen was particularly encouraged by Lawrence and his nine tackles, hoping it wasn’t a mirage. “I’d like to see him in Game 2 and Game 3,” Petersen said.
Boise State has plenty at stake tomorrow, but things will be a lot more intense for BYU in advance of the nationally-televised Bronco-Cougar game on the blue turf next Thursday night. BYU is facing bitter rival Utah in the Holy War in Salt Lake City. With Ute quarterback Jordan Wynn’s career over due to a shoulder injury in the upset loss at Utah Srtate last week, BYU is hoping to tee off on the Utah offense. The Utes plastered BYU last year in Provo, 54-10.
This week’s Mountain West schedule is relatively vanilla. The interesting game will be Colorado at Fresno State, as the Bulldogs try to take advantage of the Buffaloes while they’re down. CU will be the first Pac-12 team to visit Fresno since 2006. With that said, I’ll play the attendance card again. There hasn't been a crowd of 40,000 at Bulldog Stadium since a 32-29 overtime loss to Hawaii back in 2008. Ten years ago, Fresno State drew that many regularly. Will the excitement surrounding new coach Tim DeRuyter and a strong second half showing at Oregon last week make a difference at the gate? The Bulldogs drew only 27,663 in their season opener against Weber State.
If Idaho is to do any damage offensively at No. 3 LSU tomorrow night, it’ll be in the passing game. Quarterback Dominique Blackman has some capable wideouts to help him out. After going without a 100-yard receiver last season, the Vandals have had one in each of their first two games, with Jahrie Level notching 119 yards at Bowling Green and Najee Lovett 110 yards versus Eastern Washington. Both are junior college transfers. Level’s 10 catches last Saturday were the most by a Vandal in three years. LSU is favored by 42½ points over Idaho. A win by the Tigers would set a new NCAA record for consecutive non-conference victories—it would be their 40th straight. But, says Vandal coach Robb Akey, “We’ve got nothing to lose. We’re going to pin our ears back and go after it.”
Former Boise State star Shea McClellin picked up his first NFL sack last night and was in on another versus Aaron Rodgers in Chicago’s 23-13 loss to Green Bay at Lambeau Field. McClellin was also credited with two quarterback hits and a tackle-for-loss. One of the highlights of Week 2 in the NFL as it pertains to Boise State products is Tampa Bay’s matchup against the New York Giants. It’ll be the Muscle Hamster’s first game in the Big Apple. Martin notched the seventh-most rushing yards of any NFL running back in Week 1 with his 95-yard day versus Carolina last week.
When Michael Putnam signed his card to the tune of a nine-under 62 yesterday at Hillcrest Country Club, we thought he was safely in the clubhouse as the first round leader of the Albertsons Boise Open. How naïve of us. Later in the day, Andrew Svoboda and Tyrone van Aswegen joined Putnam in that rarified air. The first-day scoring average was 69.36, the lowest in the 23-year history of the Boise event, with 104 of the 156 players in the field breaking par. "It was as easy as it's ever played," said Putnam, who has made four previous starts at Hillcrest. "Zero wind and a perfect temperature."
The best round by a local golfer was posted by former Boise State star Troy Merritt at four-under. Here’s hoping Boise resident Ryan Hietala makes the cut today after he went three-under in the first round. After 234 career starts on the Web.com Tour, this will be Hietala’s final pro tournament for the foreseeable future, as his wife Jennifer is expecting their first child within the next week. Hietala’s going to take a break from competitive golf and stay home, having joined Kevin Burton’s coaching staff at Boise State. The 38-year-old UTEP product says he’s not retiring. Elsewhere among locals, Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge shot a one-under 70 and BanBury pro Ben Bryson came in five-over.
It’s going to be a very different-looking team on 2012-13 under new coach Brad Ralph, but the Idaho Steelheads will have their leading scorer back from last season. The Steelheads have signed forward Jacob Cepis, who scored 20 goals and added 25 assists in his rookie year. Cepis also tallied two game-winning goals in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, picking up at least a point in seven of the Steelheads’ nine postseason contests.
This Day In Sports…September 14, 2010:
Former USC star Reggie Bush becomes the first winner in the 75-year history of the Heisman Trophy to forfeit the award. Bush had been declared ineligible for the season when he won the Heisman, 2005, after an NCAA investigation revealed he and his family improperly accepted cash and gifts from sports agents while he played for the Trojans. Southern Cal had been hit with severe penalties by the NCAA, including a two-year bowl ban and loss of scholarships, and had removed virtually all traces of Bush from its campus.
(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.)