Wednesday, December 19, 2012.
Boise State will be dealing with a junior, a junior and a junior next August in Seattle. Going into Saturday’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, there’s a trio of sophomores leading Washington’s offense, and each is formidable. Running back Bishop Sankey was supposed to be part of the supporting cast this season until Jesse Callier was injured in the first half of the season opener. All Sankey has done is rush for 1,234 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wide receiver Kasen Williams was automatic this season, leading the Huskies with 71 catches for 783 yards, Williams had a monster game in UW’s upset of Stanford—10 receptions for 129 yards including the 35-yard touchdown that won the game.
But one thing just jumps out when you look at the Bronco-Husky matchup, the well-publicized UW tight end, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. The honorable mention All-American has spent his sophomore year breaking Washington's season record for catches by a tight end with 63. That position, traditionally potent at Boise State, has all but disappeared from the Bronco passing attack this year. Holden Huff is the leader with 15 catches and two touchdowns. No other Boise State tight end has more than two grabs. In fact, as a group the tight ends have just 19 receptions. Gabe Linehan had only one catch this season, in the opener at Michigan State. Linehan’s been out since being injured in game No. 4 at New Mexico.
There were two unsung stalwarts on the Boise State offensive line this season, center Matt Paradis and right tackle Brenel Myers. Paradis was first team All-Mountain West and Myers was a second-teamer. For Paradis, it’s an accomplishment that’s amazing even to him. Four years ago he was a senior at Council High School. “At that point I honestly didn’t think I’d ever play college football,” said Paradis. Then he started talking to Boise State about walking on. “When (offensive coordinator Bryan) Harsin told me I was on the team, I didn’t even believe him,” Paradis said. Needless to say, he is now a scholarship player.
Myers’ journey has been very different. He came to Boise State in 2008 with scholarship in hand. And when right tackle Garrett Pendergast went down with a broken leg in practice the following year a few weeks before the Fiesta Bowl, Myers was inserted into the starting lineup for the big one against TCU. He held his own against Horned Frog star Jerry Hughes, and expectations for Myers were rather large. Myers didn’t put much stock in it, though. “I knew what was going on—I knew I still had a lot of learning to do,” said Myers. What he didn’t know was that injuries would all but derail his sophomore and junior seasons. He didn’t even make it back on the field this year until fall camp. “After the surgery I had earlier this year, it was a tossup,” Myers said. Now, he has a chance to end his college career the way he ended his freshman season.
Boise State’s 2013 recruiting class is up to 20 now, as Scout.com reports that Thomas Sperbeck of Carmichael, CA, has committed to the Broncos. Sperbeck was a quarterback at Jesuit High School, but he told Scout.com a couple weeks ago, “Boise State seems to like me as a safety.” Sperbeck’s one of those players to whom the Broncos gravitate, as he’s a coach’s son. In fact, his dad is Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck, who Boise State faced 30 years ago when he was the starting quarterback at Nevada.
Would this be a strange turn of events, or what? Four days after Gary Andersen coached Utah State to a big win over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl while declaring his locked-in allegiance to the Aggies, reports out of Wisconsin have him being imminently named the Badgers’ new head man. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is certainly familiar with Andersen’s work. USU nearly knocked off the Badgers in Madison in September, falling 16-14 when kicker Josh Thompson missed a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds. This could just be one of those Chris Petersen-type rumors, but it’s being widely reported. This recent Anderson quote would sure ring hollow in Logan: "I love Cache Valley, this university and these young men, and I am humbled and excited to continue to be the coach here.”
Shea McClellin doesn’t know if he’ll be back on the field with the Chicago Bears Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. The first round draft pick out of Boise State missed last week’s loss to Green Bay with a knee injury. “I’m still looking at it day to day, trying to make sure I’m ready to go—90 percent, 100 percent,” McClellin said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk. He says it’s his first knee problem since he tore his MCL as a freshman with the Broncos. If McClellin can play, he’ll probably spend some time going head-to-head against his friend Nate Potter, who has started at left tackle for the Cardinals the last five games. The Boise State and Timberline High product laid a key block for Beanie Wells on the Cards’ first touchdown of the game last week as they routed Detroit 38-10 to break a nine-game losing streak.
There are two players to watch tonight as the Idaho Steelheads visit the Las Vegas Wranglers in Orleans Arena. One has been fairly prominent all season: Justin Dowling has at least one point in 24 of Idaho's 27 games. The other has caught fire this month. Austin Fyten has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past nine games. Fyten is also in the top 12 in the ECHL in plus-minus rating with a plus-13. The 21-year-old rookie played last season for coach Don Hay, father of former Steelhead Darrell Hay, with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League—but not until the playoffs. Fyten missed the regular season while recovering from knee surgery. He had enough cache in hockey circles to be invited to training camp with the Texas Stars of the AHL 2½ months ago, though.
LSU may have been blindsided by Boise State’s Anthony Drmic last Friday night, but Idaho knows all about him as the Vandals prepare for the Broncos tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena. Before he poured in 34 points in the 89-70 Boise State win over the Tigers, Drmic’s career-high was the 26 points he put up against the Vandals in the Broncos’ 76-73 win at the Idaho Center last New Year’s Eve. He was 9-of-14 from the field and canned six three-pointers. Drmic has scored 25 points twice this season—against Oakland and Seattle.
The Idaho Stampede are still trying to figure out how to put the ball in the bucket. Their inability to do so has led to a 1-7 start, but they have another shot tonight on the road against the Bakersfield Jam. The Stampede are shooting less than 40 percent from the field and just 28 percent from three-point range in the young D-League season. Bakersfield was the site of the Stampede’s closest road game so far, a 125-119 loss on November 29.
How about this—I caught an error by Kobe Bryant in Sports Illustrated. In this week’s issue, Bryant is asked by Dan Patrick if he remembers his first NBA basket. Replied Bryant, “I think I was in Boise, Idaho, for a preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks.” Patrick asked if there was anything special about it. “Eddie Jones gave me the assist,” said Bryant. “In high school he used to look out for me. He was at Temple and let me work out with the guys.” Well, Bryant was in Boise for a preseason game in his rookie year in 1996, but it was against Seattle—and he didn’t suit up. I remember the 17-year-old Kobe standing outside the Lakers locker room in the BSU Pavilion. It was a nice thought, though. By the way, Jones did play in the game, as did Shaquille O’Neal, who was going into his first season with L.A. after coming over from Orlando.
This Day In Sports…December 19, 2002, 10 years ago today:
A couple years after the Seattle Mariners make a splash by signing Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki, the New York Yankees give the concept a try by inking outfielder Hideki Matsui to a three-year contract. Matsui was already 28 years old, but he played every game for the Yankees the next three seasons. He would later be named Most Valuable Player of the 2009 World Series, the Yanks’ last world championship. Matsui, currently a free agent, has a career batting average of .282 with 175 home runs.
(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.)