Tuesday, August 20, 2013.
There’s not a clear divisional line between fall camp and regular season routine at Boise State, at least as far as game-planning is concerned. Despite the calendar that shows this to be the final week of camp, the Broncos are well on their way laying in a plan of attack for the opener at Washington. “We have a lot in on both sides,” said coach Chris Petersen after Sunday night’s scrimmage. There won’t be many surprises the next 11 days. “It’s already been introduced as part of our base stuff,” Petersen added. It’s unlikely the Boise State offense was this far along a year ago, as you had the unknowns of a new quarterback, Joe Southwick, and a new offensive coordinator, Robert Prince. Southwick and his receiving corps have matured. And, well, sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi certainly appears to be mature at this point.
One certainty of a fall scrimmage is the chance to get a look at guys you likely won’t see up close again until spring. Soon a crew of Boise State freshmen will slide into redshirt years. One is Tanner Shipley, the wide receiver from Wilsonville, OR, who will be remembered for the catch of the night Sunday in deep pass drills before the scrimmage started. Shipley made an acrobatic, twisting grab of a long throw from Nick Patti. Another Tanner, this one Vallejo out of Grass Valley, CA, had a productive night with four tackles. But some of the fresh faces will play. “It’s true every year,” said Petersen. “You need true freshmen, and we will again this year.” Will one of them be Aaron Baltazar? The stout 5-10, 215-pounder from Chula Vista, CA, impressed with four carries for 38 yards Sunday night. “We don’t know if we’ll decide anytime soon,” Petersen said.
You may have noticed a lot of no-huddle from the second and third-team offensive units at the Boise State scrimmage. It’s an option for the Broncos, not an identity, and that philosophy is what has traditionally made their offense work. There will be no abandoning the traditional huddle, or under-center, or base play-action stuff. “We’ll probably be a combination of all those things,” Petersen noted. But Boise State had to run the hurry-up Sunday. “It’s good for our defense—everyone we play will be no-huddle.”
The new Mountain West Championship Game in December has a TV home, and it’s the expected one, with a twist. The conference has struck a multi-year deal with CBS Sports to telecast the title tilt. That’s the over-the-air CBS. CBS Sports Network, the cable outlet, is already the Mountain West’s primary TV partner, airing 23 games involving league teams this season. The championship game will debut at 8 p.m. Mountain time on December 7 at the home of the divisional champion with the highest BCS ranking. That’ll be six hours after the CBS kickoff of the SEC Championship Game, making it the final game of college football’s regular season aside from the Army-Navy game the following week.
When I saw “Camellia Bowl” in the headlines, I immediately flashed back to Boise State’s win in the 1980 Division I-AA national championship game in Sacramento. Even the Broncos’ victory in the same bowl in 1971 when it was the “Western Region College Division Championship.” Now there’s a new Camellia Bowl, and the Idaho Vandals can play for a spot in it next year. The MAC and the Sun Belt, Idaho’s new conference home for football beginning next year, have finalized a six-year deal for the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, AL, another ESPN-owned game that will debut following the 2014 season.
Twenty years after he burst on the scene as a true freshman for Arizona State, Jake Plummer sees some of himself in current ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly. Of course, the irony is that both are former Treasure Valley high school stars, Plummer at Capital and Kelly at Eagle. Kelly’s rise to prominence with the Sun Devils has been palpable. Two years ago he was buried on the depth chart and watched ASU’s 56-24 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl from the sidelines. Last August Kelly was still third-string entering training camp, but he ended up not only as the starter, but as the school record-holder for single-season completion percentage at 67.1 percent. He also threatened another Arizona State standard by throwing 29 touchdown passes.
But it’s what Kelly can do with his feet that makes him especially dangerous, a la Plummer. “Taylor has a knack for it,” said Jake the Snake at azcentral,com. “I see a lot of similarities to myself when I watch him. He can throw on the run just brilliantly. His big thing is going to be standing in that pocket and not letting the pressure get to him and be able to push it up the field. Yet at the same time, when the play breaks down, keeping it alive and getting something out of it. That’s not easy, but I think he’s moving that direction.” Kelly’s also tough—about 10 days ago during a walk-through session he was elbowed in the head, a blow that required 11 stitches. He was back in practice three days later.
The Boise Hawks turned sloppy last night as their losing streak reached three. The Hawks committed four errors, helping Tri-City rally from a 3-1 deficit for a 6-3 victory. The Dust Devils did it with only four hits. The game was lively. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jacob Rogers was tossed for arguing a check-swing called strike. Then manager Gary Van Tol quickly followed as he was ejected for the first time this season. That thrust Bill Buckner into the skipper’s role with the scored tied 3-3. The Dust Devils plated three in the eighth for the winning margin. One of Boise big bats has gone silent in this series—Yasiel Balaguert is 1-for-16 in the past four games. The five-game set wraps up tonight.
The Idaho Steelheads feel this is a good get. Coach Brad Ralph announced the signing of Taylor Vause yesterday, and he brings a rare resume to the Steelies. Vause spent all of last season with the Texas Stars of the AHL after playing five games for Texas at the end of the 2011-12 season. The 21-year-old forward carries 60 games of fresh AHL experience to Boise. Vause has tasted the highest level of minor league hockey and will be on a mission to get back there.
Les Bois Park has released its postscript on 2013, and it’s a positive one. The season that ended 10 days ago drew 108,905 fans, led by Ladies Night on Wednesdays with an average of 3,510 (the track attracted 6,100 for the Ladies Night finale). The pari-mutuel live handle for the season was $2,374,362. Les Bois issues two Leading Jockey awards, with Joe Crispin winning thoroughbred honors this year and Jay Conklin topping quarter horse jockeys.
This Day In Sports…August 20, 1948:
The largest night crowd in the history of major league baseball at the time, over 78,000, jams Municipal Stadium in Cleveland to watch Negro Leagues icon Satchel Paige shut out the White Sox on a three-hitter, 1-0. Paige had made his big league debut six weeks earlier as a 42-year-old rookie, as the color barrier had finally been broken in the American League. He later came out of retirement in 1965 to pitch one game for Kansas City at the age of 58.
(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.)