Thursday, April 12, 2012.
As nice as it would be for Boise State to split into two teams for regular scoring in the Blue & Orange Game to wrap up spring football Saturday night, there just aren’t enough available Broncos to do that. So, like last spring, it’ll be offense versus defense, with the latter earning points the new-fashioned way, through turnovers, three-and-outs, sacks, etc. And, like last year, the winners get teriyaki bowls and showers. The losers get no food—and no showers.
All eyes from the stands will be on the four quarterbacks, of course, who will be “100 percent live” according to Petersen. No red jerseys. “The game does change when it’s live,” Petersen said. “The more chances we get to put those guys under fire, the better.” The only other time that Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea and Nick Patti have been live, though, was in the first spring scrimmage three weeks ago. Petersen said there’s no pecking order established for the quartet Saturday night. He also said that running back D.J. Harper will be held out of the game—not because he’s injured, but because he’s gotten plenty of work in this spring without adding a risk of injury Saturday.
Petersen’s press conference yesterday was generally jovial and upbeat, until I had to go and ask him if he’s been able to gauge the kickers this spring. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do there,” said Petersen, without a hint of a smile on his face. Dan Goodale, Michael Frisina (when healthy) and Jake Van Ginkel have all been getting reps as placekickers, while Trevor Harman has been kicking off and punting. Boise State’s kicking game woes last season will live in infamy. The Broncos missed only three field goals last year—but they attempted only nine. And they were 71-of-79 in extra points, enduring the most missed PATs in 37 years. “We’re working as hard as we ever have with them,” said Petersen, who has another kicker, Sean Wale, joining the program this summer. “We’re just not as consistent as we need to be.
Monday Night Football analyst and former NFL coach Jon Gruden held a teleconference yesterday, a press briefing of sorts on his “Gruden's QB Camp” series. Kellen Moore’s episode will air today at 3 p.m. on ESPNU. Gruden sees Moore lasting until the third day of the draft. “Is he big enough? Does he have enough arm? Can he get away from pressure? Those are the challenges ahead of Kellen Moore,” he said. But Gruden wouldn’t mind coaching Kellen. “You can’t deny production,” he said. “I’d like to have a shot of making a few first downs with him.” And he looks forward to the day that Moore gets into coaching himself. “The system of football at Boise is very demanding—they do more than many NFL teams,” said Gruden. “He could probably be an offensive coordinator for many teams.”
Count SI.com’s Don Banks among those who think Shea McClellin will be the first Boise State player selected in the NFL Draft next week. In his latest mock draft, Banks projects McClellin as the No. 28 overall pick, going to Green Bay. Writes Banks: “McClellin projects to outside 3-4 linebacker in the NFL after playing as an undersized defensive end in college. He's climbing into the late first round on some teams' boards, and seems a nice fit for the Packers, who seek an upgraded pass rush opposite Clay Matthews.” Who’d a thunk the running back and linebacker out of Marsing High, a 2A school in Idaho, would be in this kind of conversation when he signed with the Broncos in 2006. And then grayshirted.
Fresno State spring football is done, but there’s news from the San Joaquin Valley. When the Bulldogs hit the blue turf October 13, they’ll be without their thousand-yard receiver from last year—and they didn’t expect to be. Jalen Saunders, a first-team All-WAC selection, is transferring out of the Fresno State program. Saunders scored 12 touchdowns and averaged over 21 yards a catch last season. But according to his father, he’s frustrated with the no-huddle, spread offense installed by new coach Tim DeRuyter. That moved Saunders inside as a slot receiver and H-back instead of a true wideout, and he didn’t like it.
Hawaii is in the midst of its spring drills. The Warriors will have a very different look under new head coach Norm Chow when Boise State has one last rodeo in Aloha Stadium November 10. Chow's pro-set offense employs something called a tight end, a position not seen on the UH campus since 1998. June Jones’ run-and-shoot offense didn’t employ a tight end, and Greg McMackin’s version of the attack didn’t either. Still, Chow has only one tight end listed on his roster, JC transfer Greg Evans. On Monday the coaching staff asked Tavita Woodard, who had been thriving at defensive end this spring, to move to tight end.
A couple notes on former Idaho Steelheads as we await the ECHL Western Conference semifinals Monday night. Goalie Richard Bachman, now with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, has been selected for the USA men’s national team that will compete at the IIHF World Championships in Finland and Sweden in May. Bachman went 8-5-1 with the Stars this season, posting a 2.77 goals-against average in 18 appearances. And there are three former Steelies on NHL rosters for the Stanley Cup Playoffs—Zenon Konopka with the Ottawa Senators, B.J. Crombeen with the St. Louis Blues, and Jay Beagle with the Washington Capitals. Konopka, as is his custom, piled up the penalties this season. He was third in the NHL in major penalty minutes during the regular season with 193.
It looks like Larry Eustachy will be back in Taco Bell Arena next winter. The former Idaho and Iowa State coach is leaving Southern Mississippi to become head man today at Colorado State according to numerous reports. The Rams are serious about their basketball after losing coach Tim Miles to Nebraska. Eustachy has bounced back from the scandal that cost him his job at Iowa State in 2003. This season he guided Southern Miss to a 25-8 record as the Golden Eagles made it into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 years.
After taking Masters week off to regroup, Graham DeLaet returns to the PGA Tour today at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, SC. The former Boise State star is trying to move forward from a bad day at the office two weeks ago, when he blazed through the first round of the Shell Houston Open and put himself in position for a big paycheck—then blew up in the second round and missed the cut. DeLaet’s spot on this year’s tour is thanks to a medical exemption after his 2011 season was virtually wiped out by a back injury. He has 17 tournaments left to make the remaining $494,449 he needs to keep his PGA Tour card.
This Day In Sports…April 12, 2004:
Giants outfielder Barry Bonds catches his godfather, Willie Mays, for the number three spot on baseball’s career home run list. The suspiciously bulked-up Bonds deposited a pitch out of what is now AT&T Park and into McCovey Cove on Opening Day in San Francisco, the 660th homer of his career. He would pass Mays the following day and set his sights on Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.
(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.)