Friday, September 24, 2010.
Fundamentals will be paramount in the Boise State secondary tomorrow night. Make no mistake: Oregon State star Jacquizz Rodgers will reach the secondary. “A lot of guys’ve got to be around the ball, because they’re going to break tackles,” said coach Chris Petersen this week. He was talking mainly about Quizz. The Broncos have been a good tackling team as their defense has grown in stature. They’ll have to be more than ever versus the Beavs. That’s fundamental No. 1. No. 2 would be lock-down coverage. OSU quarterback Ryan Katz may have completed only 47 percent of his passes over the first two games, but seven different Beaver receivers have catches of 20 yards or longer. “They’re such a vertical team—you’ve got to defend them sideline to sideline,” said Pete. “They’re going to take you deep.”
Wasn’t I just talking about these guys a week ago? The Boise State defensive line that just dominated Wyoming is the focal point again this week. Thanks to depth, the altitude was no factor in Laramie. Against Oregon State, the Broncos hope to be able to thank depth for the ability to control the Beavers offense. Petersen talked this week about the luxury of playing 10 different defensive linemen on a regular basis (it might be nine tomorrow night if Shea McClellin isn’t cleared to play). Pete considers D-line depth more of a necessity these days in college football. “You can’t just play four guys—you can’t just play six guys,” said Pete. Five of the players on the defensive front already have sacks this season. And one of them is not Ryan Winterswyk.
On the other side of the ball, the Boise State offensive line will have to ratchet up. The strength of Oregon State’s defense is the line, and to say that’s the key for the Beavers is, like, a no-brainer. That’s where senior Stephen Paea resides, at a svelte 6-1, 311 pounds. OSU has only two sacks in two games, but Paea has one of them. And he regularly faces double and triple-teams at his tackle spot. “It’ll be a great challenge for our inside guys,” said Petersen. The Broncos seem to have settled in on this group on the O-line (left to right): Nate Potter, Joe Kellogg, Thomas Byrd, Will Lawrence, and Matt Slater. That combo has not yet allowed a sack of Kellen Moore. Brenel Myers started the season in Slater’s spot but went out late in the third quarter against Virginia Tech with an injury—and Slater has not relinquished that spot.
The Broncos’ hunger to finally play on the blue turf this season may be underrated. They’ve been talking about it a lot this week. This is the latest home opener at Boise State since 1969 (versus Whitworth, September 27). The Broncos will feel at home climatologicially, with a high temperature near 90 tomorrow. Chamber of Commerce day. The Bronco Stadium attendance record will be threatened (34,127 against Oregon last year).
I saved this from the Oregonian to use this week. It’s a quote from Oregon State president Ed Ray on the culture Mike Riley has created with the Beavers. “I like the portrait that Mike portrays of us as kind of a lunchbucket school. Not a lot of frills, not a lot of fancy, we just kind of work hard and get things done—and I think that's very consistent with the culture of OSU as a land-grant University. Basically we exist to sort of benefit the lives of the people we serve. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what's in it for us, we don't spend a lot of time bragging and boasting, we just get things done.’’ Oregon State and Boise State actually have a lot in common. Except for that land grant university part.
Mayor Dave Bieter is releasing a proclamation today hailing tomorrow as “ESPN College GameDay” in Boise. Or should that be “ESPN College GameDay Day?” Bieter gets in all the key marketing points, such as “most livable city in the country” and “metropolitan research university of distinction.” Now, what will the crowd be like tomorrow morning? Over 10,000? Over 15,000? There’s sure to be more morning rush hour traffic than any Saturday in the city’s history.
There are some odd college football spreads out there this week, and one of them is Idaho over Colorado State tomorrow by seven points. Only seven? The Rams got pummeled by Nevada, 51-6, and are coming off a loss at Miami-Ohio. The CSU offense has scored just three touchdowns in three game and is 113th in the nation in total offense. Does that bode well for the Rams against the Vandal defense? Not exactly. Idaho is tied for the national lead in fumble recoveries with seven—the Vandals had just eight all of last season. They already have four interceptions, just three short of last year’s total. Idaho’s come-from-behind win over CSU last year in the Kibbie Dome started the Rams reeling on what is now a 12-game losing streak.
Tomorrow is the day Nevada has been waiting for since it moved up to Division I-A in 1992. I remember Big West Media Days in Boise in 1997, when then-Nevada coach Jeff Tisdel said the Wolf Pack saw itself as a Top 25 team and was determined to get there. It never happened, as it was about then the Pack started to slip, hitting bottom during the Chris Tormey years. They’ve recovered during the third reign of Chris Ault but have never gotten over the hump. Tomorrow Nevada is a rare visiting favorite in Provo against BYU. And with the Wolf Pack bubbling under at 26th in the Coaches Poll and 27th in AP, it could be an historic day.
Kyle Wilson’s role will be more acute for the New York Jets Sunday, but not as much as that of Antonio Cromartie. It is Cromartie who will be assigned to Miami’s Brandon Marshall, with Wilson starting at the other cornerback spot while Darrelle Revis recovers from a hamstring injury. Cromartie had a good game in the Jets’ stifling of the Patriots last week. Wilson is showing steady improvement in his rookie year—he has seven tackles, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups over the first two games.
This Day In Sports…September 24, 1977:
Tony Knap coaches his first game in Bronco Stadium in two years, now as the leader of UNLV. In the last of a six-game series between the two schools, Boise State ambushes the Rebels, 45-14. Former Borah High star Terry Hutt sealed the deal with an 85-yard touchdown catch from Hoskin Hogan. The Broncos—with 629 total yards—bounced back from the worst total offense output in their history, 69 the previous week in a loss at Fresno State.
(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 served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)