Tuesday, September 10, 2013.
Boise State plays its first conference game of the season Friday night, and it’s the first one in the Mountain West in which the Broncos have been permitted to wear their all-blue uniforms. So they will, coinciding with a “blue-out” in Bronco Stadium. The opponent is Air Force, who was also their foe in their first-ever Mountain West home game in 2011. Only then, blue-on-blue was banned by the conference. That contentious restriction was lifted when Boise State negotiated its return to the MW last December. Last week against Tennesee-Martin, the Broncos wore gray tops, perhaps the least-favorite wardrobe choice of fans and play-by-play announcers. You can’t see the numerals.
Chris Petersen’s press conference yesterday was an opportunity to reflect on staying in the Mountain West with the Air Force game looming. But there was none of that, outside of Petersen’s talking about the geographical fit of the conference. Is he relieved that, unlike a year ago, there’s no more uncertainty regarding whether or not the Broncos are headed for the Big East? “It really wasn’t a big worry on the coaching side,” said Petersen. “I worry about a lot of things, but that’s one thing I didn’t worry about.” Quarterback Joe Southwick likes the Mountain West’s two-division format, magnifying the importance of the game against the Falcons, who are divisional rivals. “I think both teams will know the situation, and it will add more to the game,” Southwick said. Air Force is already 0-1 in the Mountain Division.
I think Southwick’s new mustache looks better than the 2012 model. It looked like his first try last year. Now it has filled in. So why is it there? “It’s back—I think the mojo was working,” said Southwick. “We scored a lot of points (against Tennessee-Martin), so it’s stickin’ around.” Southwick first grew the top-lip facial hair last November during Boise State’s stretch run, which consisted of a four-game winning streak and Las Vegas Bowl victory. “The ‘stache is back—look out,” grinned Southwick.
There was more to Boise State’s offense in Week 2 than Week 1. And Shane Williams-Rhodes was the centerpiece of a lot of it. We saw the first fly sweep of the year—to SWR. And the first bubble screen, a 15-yarder taken in for a touchdown by Williams-Rhodes. Boise State also mixed in some option, showing it will run the ball with Southwick. And, of course, Grant Hedrick was his own option in the third quarter, running for a score from 50 yards out.
Boise State’s linebacking corps keeps getting younger. First, Jonathan Brown was lost at Washington, and redshirt freshman Chris Santini’s role increased at what used to be the nickel spot. Then Saturday, Travis Saxton was lost for the season versus UTM. Saxton, the junior from Star who played at Eagle High, tore his ACL. That leaves a couple true freshmen backing up Blake Renaud at middle linebacker, Darren Lee and Tanner Vallejo. On Saturday, Vallejo burned his redshirt year when Saxton was injured. “He was on standby, so we were ready,” said Petersen. Redshirt freshman Ben Weaver is backing up Tyler Gray at the weakside spot.
Not to look too far down the road, but is October 25 going to be an interesting night, or what? I don’t think Boise State will be holding BYU to six points again. Taysom Hill, the former Highland High Ram out of Pocatello, had a night for the ages Saturday. The Cougar quarterback rushed for 259 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-20 win over Texas, a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. No FBS QB has rushed for that many yards in eight years (ironically it was the Longhorns’ Vince Young in 2005). BYU amassed 679 yards of total offense, including a school-record 550 rushing yards that also set an all-time mark for rushing yards allowed by Texas. It’ll be all hands on deck for the Broncos in Provo next month.
Former Boise State star Shea McClellin is getting good reviews for his season debut in Chicago’s 24-21 win over Cincinnati Sunday. The Bears’ 2012 first round draft pick recorded the team’s only sack and only quarterback hurry of the day at Soldier Field. McClellin’s sack of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton came on a first down about eight minutes left in the game and contributed to a three-and-out on what turned out to be Cincy’s final possession. “It’s always good to get that first one out of the way,” the former Marsing Husky said. “More importantly, we won the game. McClellin had 2½ sacks as a rookie last year.
All it really took was the league’s Most Valuable Player to settle the Northwest League Championship Series last night in Vancouver. In a tense winner-take-all Game 3 before a sellout crowd of 5,157, L.B. Dantlzer smacked a two-out, two-run double to give the Canadians a 2-0 third-inning lead, and that was more than enough in a 5-0 win over the Boise Hawks. Vancouver put up a three-spot for good measure in the bottom of the eighth, bringing the house down at Nat Bailey Stadium. The C’s exacted revenge for the Hawks’ 5-0 win in Game 1 in Boise last Friday night.
Boise clearly missed the players who didn’t make the trip due to visa and passport issues, especially Carlos Penalver, the Hawks’ best defensive player, and Northwest League RBI champion Yasiel Balaguert. But it all adds up to Vancouver’s third straight Northwest League crown, as the Canadians become the first team since the 1995 Hawks to notch three in a row. Boise’s title drought will last at least another year—the Hawks last won the championship in 2004. This was the seventh runnerup finish in the franchise’s 27-year history. The Hawks have won six titles.
When Novak Djokovic stormed through Boise in April and led Serbia’s defeat of the U.S. in the Davis Cup quarterfinals, he certainly had the look of a guy who would make a run in the remaining three majors of the year. And he developed a big Treasure Valley fan following. Djokovic fell to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the French Open and lost to Andy Murray in the historic Wimbledon final in July. Last night he faced Nadal again in the U.S. Open final, and alas, Nadal prevailed again in four sets. The match was the 37th all-time between Nadal and Djokovic and their third in a U.S. Open final. Nadal won the title at Flushing Meadows in 2010—Djokovic was champion in 2011.
This Day In Sports…September 10, 2004:
By consensus, the biggest win (at the time) in Boise State history. Before a national audience on ESPN, the Broncos recover from a 14-0 first quarter deficit to rout Oregon State 53-34—their first win ever over a Pac-10 school. Korey Hall had three interceptions, one of them returned for a game-turning touchdown before a raucous sellout crowd in Bronco Stadium. The victory propelled BSU into both polls at no. 23.
(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.)