Scott Slant

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What is it really all about tonight?

by tscott


Posted on September 3, 2009 at 7:33 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 22 at 11:09 AM

Some say it's a one-game season for Boise State. Some call it a national championship elimination game for Oregon. Others want to concentrate on the grudge match overtones after last year's Bronco win in Eugene.

Thursday, September 3, 2009.

Some say it's a one-game season for Boise State. Some call it a national championship elimination game for Oregon. Others want to concentrate on the grudge match overtones after last year's Bronco win in Eugene. Whatever it is, the Oregonian says, "It's arguably the Ducks' most anticipated season opener since they met Wisconsin in 2001. The Badgers were ranked 22nd in the nation and Oregon had high hopes coming off a 10-2 season. A 31-28 win by the Ducks propelled them to an 11-1 year, a Fiesta Bowl win and a No. 2 national ranking." Yes, it's up there.

"I really can't, in recent memory, remember an opener that's gotten this much hype," UO offensive line coach Steve Greatwood said in the Eugene Register-Guard. "If you want to aspire to your goals, which is to be in a BCS game, be in the national championship game, you can't afford to stub your toe early, especially in a game with this kind of prominence."

As for a revenge factor after the late hit by BSU's Ellis Powers knocked Jeremiah Masoli out of the game last year, you get two viewpoints from Oregon's camp. "I think it carries over for our entire football team, said then coach and now athletic director Mike Bellotti recently on Idaho SportsTalk. "If you saw the hit, it's after the play--he's already thrown the pass, he's relaxed, and the guy catches him right under the chin with the top of his helmet. So, you tell me how you're going to react."

New head coach Chip Kelly treats it this way (at least publicly): "You'll never hear that out of us, that we didn't have this guy in this game so it wasn't fair," Kelly said. "Everybody has bumps and bruises, people play hurt and people miss games. They came in and they beat us, and my hat's off to them. They did a great job on both sides of the ball and on special teams. And that's what it's all about. It's not about making excuses."

It's going to be an atmosphere like no other in Bronco Stadium. Yes, that favors the home team, but the home team is very, very young. This is more than a run-of-the-mill leadership assignment for captains Kyle Wilson and Richie Brockel. They are the only two senior starters on the squad. And they're the only two who have performed on a stage this big, with two Top 20 teams squaring off in a feature game on national TV. Wilson and Brockel are the only players left on the roster who played in the Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon feels it will be ready for the Broncos' motions and shifts now that they've had a summer to prepare for it instead of a week. "They probably run one of the five to 10 best systems in all of football, including the pros," secondary coach John Neal said. "When we got to Boise week [last year], I knew it, the other coaches knew it--we had not had enough prep time with their system." Neal says boning up on the Broncos will not only benefit the Ducks tonight, it will pay dividends all through the fall. "They make us do a lot of things to be smart, and we need to help our guys be smart," Neal said. "We're getting ready for the whole season right now. And thanks, Boise, for doing it."

Boise State does not want to pick up where it left off with TCU last December. Need a refresher? The rushing numbers in the Poinsettia Bowl--on both sides of the ball--were eerily similar to the Broncos' game at Oregon last September. At Autzen Stadium, BSU rushed 35 times for only 28 yards net, and Ian Johnson managed 40 yards on 19 totes. At Qualcomm Stadium against the Horned Frogs, the Broncos had 20 attempts on the ground for just 28 yards. The big difference, of course: a win in September, a loss in December. Consensus: the Broncos have to do better with the running game tonight behind new feature backs Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper.

Likewise, the Bronco defense got gashed by the run in both games last season. Oregon rushed for 227 yards on the Broncos in Eugene. TCU rumbled for 275 yards on the ground in San Diego--almost 5½ yards a pop. The Ducks will be so much more effective through the air tonight than they were last year simply because of a longer appearance by Jeremiah Masoli. And Masoli, all 220 pounds of him, can grind on the ground. What 240-pound LeGarrette Blount might do over four quarters goes without saying. Nothing short of an "A" game from the Boise State front seven will do.

A couple other rookie survivors on NFL rosters so far: Eddie Williams, the former Idaho star, is still with Washington. Williams, the Redskins' seventh round draft pick, has two catches for 13 yards in three preseason games. And former Boise Burn offensive lineman Kyle DeVan made it through the first tour of the Turk intact on the Indianapolis roster. The Oregon State product is on the Colts' depth chart as a center but has also seen time at guard. That versatility could pay off for DeVan.

This has not been a happy home stretch for the Boise Hawks. But last night, just when it looked like they were going to absorb another disappointing loss, the Hawks pulled out a 4-3 win over Spokane on a Runey Davis walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the ninth. That broke a six-game Boise losing streak with the Indians. Today's series finale has been moved up to 3PM to avoid competing with the you-know-what. The Hawks will run shuttles to Bronco Stadium upon their game's completion.

While listening to Mike Safford call the games against Spokane on KTIK, I've been hearing the name Denny Duron. "Denny Duron," I thought to myself. "Do ya think?" Well, yes, Denny Duron is the son of the senior Denny Duron, who quarterbacked Louisiana Tech past Boise State 38-34 in the inaugural year of the Division II Playoffs in 1973. Duron threw the winning touchdown in the game to future Baltimore Colt Roger Carr. The younger Duron starred in high school baseball in Shreveport, then went out to Pepperdine to play college ball.

Former Boise State All-American Wesley Moodie and doubles partner Dick Norman of Belgium begin play today at the U.S. Open. Moodie and Norman are seeded seventh after making the semifinals of Wimbledon in July. They debut against Julien Benneteau and Jeremy Chardy of France. Moodie, the 30-year-old South African, has never made it past the first round of the U.S. Open in doubles, though he did advance to the third round in singles in 2006.

This Day In Sports...September 3, 2005:

Boise State opens its season with a game that had been hyped for eight months, both locally and nationally (sound familiar?). The Broncos, ranked 18th in the preseason AP Poll, were visiting the 13th-rated Georgia Bulldogs before almost 93,000 fans in Athens and a national TV audience on ESPN. It ended up a day of infamy for BSU and quarterback Jared Zabransky, who threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles in the first half of a 48-13 loss. Some national observers thought it would take years for the Bronco program to recover, but it was less than 16 months later that Zabransky and BSU were winning the Fiesta Bowl.

(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He also handles color commentary on KTVB's telecasts of Boise State football.)