Thursday, January 31, 2013.
The scene was not set for an upset last night. Boise State’s offense had been out of sync the previous three games, and Colorado State had won 24 games in a row on its home court. And that’s the way it played out, as the Rams drilled the Broncos, 9½-point underdogs, 77-57. Concussion-plagued Jeff Elorriaga made the trip yet did not play, but Boise State knew that would probably happen going in. What the Broncos didn’t expect was a flu bug attacking leading scorer Derrick Marks. That just made it worse when Marks was unable to answer the bell in the second half. All in all, a sour, sour night. And now Boise State has to face UNLV Saturday night in Taco Bell Arena.
Boise State has now lost four of its past five games and has dropped to 2-4 in the Mountain West. “Hopefully we’re getting all our bad luck out of the way right now,” said coach Leon Rice on his KBOI post-game show. Without Elorriaga and Marks in the game, Anthony Drmic was the only real three-point threat left for Boise State, so Colorado State didn’t have to worry about stretching its defense. And Drmic was just 3-of-11 from the field and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc as the Broncos shot under 38 percent overall. Three weeks ago Boise State was 13-2 and receiving votes in the Top 25, with pundits like Jerry Palm projecting their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Now the Broncos have to try to come out of a tussle against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels with their pride intact.
Here’s hoping some NFL player personnel staffers are paying attention to the Texas vs. The Nation all-star football game Saturday, because that is D.J. Harper’s chance to make an impression in hopes of catching on in an NFL training camp this summer. Harper will suit up for the Texas squad, as he hails from the Houston suburb of Cypress. The 5-9, 205-pound running back capped his injury-extended six-year Boise State odyssey with an outstanding senior year, rushing for 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns. Harper scored at least one TD every year from 2007-12, accumulating 41 in all.
The Koetter-Hawkins-Petersen coaching tree has another promotion to report. Mike Sanford, who was a backup quarterback for Boise State 10 years ago, has been promoted to quarterbacks and wide receivers coach at Stanford after handling running backs the past two seasons. Sanford will continue his duties as recruiting coordinator for the Cardinal. If he can do for the QBs what he’s done for the running backs, Stanford will keep on keepin’ on. Sanford mentored Stepfan Taylor, the Doak Walker Award semifinalist who recorded two of the two three rushing seasons in school history.
Our former Bronco NFLer of the Day is defensive tackle Chase Baker of the Minnesota Vikings. Baker was projected as an undrafted free agent a year ago, and that he was in late April. But he still made it all the way through training camp with Minnesota and was signed to the practice squad for the beginning of the season after logging six tackles and a sack in the Vikes’ final exhibition game. There’s a lot of churn on NFL practice squads, but Baker stuck all the way through the 2012 campaign remains a Viking. Also slated for Minnesota training camp is former Idaho punter T.J. Conley, who signed a reserve/futures contract three weeks ago.
A story in the Contra Costa Times in the Bay Area on former Idaho star Mike Iupati zeroed in on a couple ringing endorsements for the San Francisco 49ers All-Pro guard going into Super Bowl XLVII Sunday. Former Niners center Randy Cross told the Times Iupati's technique is improving to the point where he soon can be compared to former Dallas Cowboys and 49ers guard Larry Allen, a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. John Madden, the long-time Monday Night and Sunday Night Football analyst, said, "Mike Iupati is not somebody I'd want to line up against. A couple of steps and he's at full power. That was a hell of a draft choice."
49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick was on the cover of last week’s Sports Illustrated and is on the cover of the current ESPN The Magazine. He’s everywhere—he’s everywhere. If you paid attention to profiles of Kaepernick during his Nevada days when he was battling Boise State, you know he was adopted as an infant, that he was a highly-touted baseball player with a wicked fastball at Turlock High, that the football scholarship offer from the Wolf Pack was the only one he received, that the tattoos running down his arms are religious, and that his first college start made him an instant sensation in the Pack’s 69-67 quadruple-overtime loss to the Broncos on the blue turf. But few of us ever fathomed that he’d be leading the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in the Super Bowl after only nine NFL starts.
Can the Pack ever pull another Kaepernick rabbit out of its hat? There’s less than one week left until National Letter of Intent Day. New Nevada coach Brian Polian has been behind the eight-ball in recruiting, having been hired January 11. But recruiting is supposed to be Polian’s strong suit. He’s had to rekindle the contacts he made during his two years at Stanford (that’s the only school in the West at which he’s coached). The Wolf Pack had just six commits when he Polian came aboard—there have been seven more since.
The Idaho Steelheads have gotten a couple players back from the AHL in the past week, but now three more are gone ahead of this weekend’s road trip to Stockton. Tyler Beskorowany is headed back to Texas, and Austin Fyten is going to the AHL’s Stars as well. Fyten had become a focal point of the Steelies offense, have scored 30 points in the team’s past 23 games. Andrew Carroll, who has scored goals in three straight games for the Steelheads, is being loaned to Connecticut of the AHL. Carroll tallied the game-winner last Saturday night at Gwinnett. That makes 13 Steelheads who have been called up to the AHL this season.
As Idaho tries to build momentum for eventual construction of a new events center that would house basketball, Cowan Spectrum sees its biggest hoops event of the year tonight. Utah State comes to town with a 14-5 record, still the WAC standard in its final season in the conference. But the Aggies have dropped four straight games since injuries to leading scorer Preston Medlin and starting forward Kyisean Reed, and the Vandals have beaten USU the last two meetings in Moscow. It was Medlin who hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer against the Vandals in Logan four weeks ago, sending the game into overtime, where the Aggies survived. Idaho’s Kyle Barone is coming off the best field goal shooting night in school history, a 10-for-10 effort that led the Vandals past UT-San Antonio 74-70 last Saturday.
This Day In Sports…January 31, 1988, 25 years ago today:
Washington Redskin Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to start a Super Bowl, goes 9-of-11 for 228 yards and four touchdowns, while rookie teammate Tim Smith rushes for 122 yards and a TD—all in the second quarter. The Redskins amassed a Super Bowl record 602 yards to brand the Denver Broncos, 42-10, in Super Bowl XXII. Williams finished the day with 340 yards passing and earned the game’s MVP honor.
(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.)