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Another November challenge in the secondary

Another November challenge in the secondary

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 30, 2012 at 7:23 AM

Tuesday, October 30, 2012.

Maybe San Diego State’s Adam Dingwell of 2012 isn’t TCU’s Casey Pachall of 2011, but the Boise State secondary of 2012 suddenly has some striking similarities to the Bronco defensive backfield of last November.  The Broncos will be missing two starters when San Diego State comes to town Saturday night, as Lee Hightower remains on indefinite suspension and Bryan Douglas has been lost for the year due to a torn ACL at Wyoming.  The loss of Douglas has had an effect on Chris Petersen.  “It’s tough, because he was doing a really good job,” said Petersen.  “I thought of him as a starter.”  The loss of Hightower has affected Petersen in a different way.  Is the suspension a learning experience for the sophomore safety?  “I haven’t talked to Lee,” said Petersen tersely.  The coach is not a happy camper.

Darian Thompson got the start at Wyoming in place of Hightower, and—other than being burned on a 32-yard pass play on the Cowboys’ third snap—he had a good day.  Deon’tae Florence came in at corner to spell Jerrell Gavins at the position Gavins shared with Douglas.  Senior leader Jamar Taylor watched it unfold from his corner spot and didn’t mind the fresh faces coming in.  “I think it just makes us better—get the young guys in there,” said Taylor.  “We need guys to just carry the flag and get it going.”  It was an injured Taylor who tried to go in the first quarter against TCU and couldn’t on the blue turf in last November’s showdown.  The makeshift Boise State secondary didn’t hold up from there, giving up 473 passing yards by Pachall in the Horned Frogs’ 36-35 win.

Petersen said he’s still considering taking a player off his redshirt year in the secondary to fill the gaps.  Safety Chanceller James, who had a solid fall camp, would be a candidate.  Eric Agbaroji, Chaz Anderson and Donte Deayon would be the only other known possibilities.  Petersen bristled yesterday at the term “burning” a redshirt year.  “We’re not going to waste anybody’s year,” said Petersen.  “That guy’s going to get good quality reps and it’ll springboard him into next year.”

Petersen said yesterday neither Hightower nor suspended tight end Hayden Plinke are even practicing with the team right now.  As far as Boise State’s other injuries are concerned, the only information Petersen would advance is that Dextrell Simmons, Greg Grimes and Kharyee Marshall are “day-to-day and week-to-week.”  The Bronco depth chart isn’t the most reliable document in the world, but Hightower and Douglas have been removed, while Simmons, Grimes and Marshall remain listed. 

Saturday’s Boise State-San Diego State game has championship implications.  The Broncos know they will win the Mountain West title if they take care of business.  Quarterback Joe Southwick said yesterday the MW crown was talked about “all offseason” by the team.  “We didn’t get the job done last year, and we have an opportunity this year to get it done, so we’re all in,” said Southwick.  There are implications for the Aztecs as well—they’re 4-1 in conference play and can control their destiny, at least for a share of the championship, with a Saturday night win on the blue turf.

As Boise State keeps climbing in the BCS rankings, so returns the scrutiny.  The Broncos got some from SI.com’s Stewart Mandel in his “College Football Overtime.”  They are tabbed his “overrated” team this week.  Writes Mandel: “This is getting ridiculous. The Broncos lost to 5-4 Michigan State, and their best win arguably came against 5-4 BYU.  But hey, you know you've arrived when the pollsters are ranking you based on history.”  That resume is important to the top non-AQ school of the new century.  Unranked Toledo, Mandel’s “underrated” team of the week, must feel like Boise State did 10 years ago.  “The 8-1 Rockets' lone defeat, a 24-17 loss in overtime at Arizona in Week 1, doesn't look so bad now, plus they've since beaten then-undefeated Cincinnati,” penned Mandel.  “Where is the love?”

Kyle Wilson’s third NFL season must feel like his first one right now.  Wilson is taking heat just like all his New York Jets teammates after the 30-9 pounding the team took Sunday from the Miami Dolphins.  Wilson gave up a 37-yard deep ball to Dolphins reserve wideout Marlin Moore on a third-and-four and was beaten on a deep ball that would have been a sure touchdown had it not been dropped by Jabar Gaffney.  Things had been going reasonably well for Wilson since he and Antonio Cromartie had to step it up following the season-ending injury to All-Pro Darrelle Revis a month ago.  Now it seems the former Boise State star is back in “prove it” mode.  At least Wilson has a chance to regroup, as the Jets are going into their bye week.

The Idaho Steelheads are all over the ECHL leaderboard three weeks into the season.  The Steelheads top the league in power-play percentage, scoring on 36.7 percent of their chances, goals with 37, and first-period goals with 13.  Individually, Justin Dowling and Kael Mouillierat are tied for second in the ECHL with 11 points, while Mouillierat is tied for the league lead with nine assists.  Jeremie Blain leads the ECHL in scoring by a defenseman with nine points, and Matt Case is tied for second in that category with seven points.  The Steelies return home Friday night to host the Utah Grizzlies at CenturyLink Arena.

Preseason practice rolls on for the Boise State men’s basketball team, with the Broncos’ exhibition game against Saint Martin’s coming up this Friday.  As you look forward to that, consider these words from coach Leon Rice: “Mikey Thompson’s going to make an impact this year.”  Thompson is the highly-touted point guard from Las Vegas who redshirted last winter.  It wasn’t easy.  “When the season ended last year and I came off my redshirt, I started to look forward to this right there,” said Thompson.  The 6-3, 167-pounder said this is what fans can look forward to: “My game is real creative—take people off the dribble, and do some scoring.” 

Boise State takes the reigning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week into the MW Women’s Soccer Championships beginning tomorrow in San Diego.  Goalkeeper Megan Blanchard earned the honor after recording her first career shutout Saturday in a 1-0 win over Nevada.  Not only that, it was the first career win—and only the seventh career appearance for the senior from Fresno.  The Broncos, seeded No. 3, have a rematch with the Wolf Pack tomorrow in the first round of the tournament.

This Day In Sports…October 30, 1982, 30 years ago today:

New Idaho coach Dennis Erickson brings the Vandals into Bronco Stadium to try to break a five-game losing streak to Boise State.  Not only does Idaho snap the skid, it begins “The Streak”—as the Vandals would win the next 12 games against the Broncos.  On this night, junior quarterback Ken Hobart, thriving in Erickson’s new offense, would lead Idaho to a 24-17 win.  Boise State would match the streak with its 12th straight win in the rivalry in 2010 before the series went on hiatus.

(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.)

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