Thursday, September 19, 2013.
The dangers of the Fresno State offense have been hammered home this week as Boise State’s showdown with the Bulldogs is a day away. If the Broncos could just submit last year’s defensive performance against the Bulldogs and go home, they’d do it. “I thought we played one of our better games that we played all year on defense,” said coach Chris Petersen of the effort in Boise State’s 20-10 win on the blue turf. Fresno State was held to 242 yards of total offense last October until it mounted an 80-yard drive in the final minutes for its only touchdown. Derek Carr threw for 266 yards, but it took him 43 attempts to do it. And the Bulldog running game was limited to 1.9 yards per carry, helped by three Bronco sacks of Carr. Deja vu will be difficult (speaking of cliche alerts).
Fresno State doesn’t have Bishop Sankey, but otherwise it has a lot of offensive similarities to Washington, the team that kicked off Boise State’s season on such a distasteful note three weeks ago. Those Keith Price flash-passes to the flats were deadly against the Broncos at Husky Stadium, and that’s a Fresno State staple. But Petersen likes the progress his secondary has made—true freshman Jonathan Moxey in particular. Moxey has, well, moxie. And his playing time has been increasing since spot duty in Seattle. “I really like his focus, his demeanor,” said Petersen. “He needs to get out there.” Moxey is now listed as the co-backup with Cleshawn Page at one cornerback spot behind Bryan Douglas.
The one Boise State position that has seen the most startling amount of bad news-good news is linebacker. The Broncos lost weakside LB Jonathan Brown at Washington, then middle ‘backer Travis Saxton tore his ACL against Tennessee-Martin. That has created opportunity for Boise State’s highly-touted youngsters in the linebacking corps, and they’re growing up in a hurry. Scout Team Player of the Year awards have always provided a glimpse into the future for the Broncos. Middle linebacker Ben Weaver won the defensive award last year, and he’s an emerging force now that he’s active. The biggest ooh-and-aah hits on defense the past two games have come from Weaver and two other freshmen linebackers, Chris Santini and Tanner Vallejo.
Here are some Fresno State offensive essentials going into tomorrow night’s clash. In the San Joaquin Valley, they’ll tell you the team is on its best run since moving into Bulldog Stadium in 1980. From the Fresno Bee: “Over their last eight home games, the Bulldogs are 8-0 and averaging 48.3 points and 526.3 total yards at home. In this stretch, Carr has completed 73.5 percent of his passes for 2,819 yards and 31 touchdowns. Davante Adams has a touchdown reception in seven of the eight games. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents by an average of 25.9 points per game. In 2000 and into 2001, the Bulldogs had an eight-game stretch on their home field where they averaged 42.1 points and 512.1 total yards in going 7-1.” The lone loss was the legendary one to Boise State.
You wonder how Fresno State will move Adams around tomorrow night. Adams, a 6-2, 216 pounder, has 19 catches and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ first two games. Will they try to draw a matchup against Donte Deayon, who’s 5-9, 151 pounds? Fresno State is incredibly balanced at wideout, though, with 6-0 Isaiah Burse boasting 18 receptions and 6-1 Josh Harper 17. But Carr hasn’t completed a deep ball to them yet. Adams has the season’s longest catch at 27 yards.
Today we mention Washington and Idaho State in the same sentence. Because the Bengals have the pleasure of playing UW in Husky Stadium Saturday. Talk about going from one end of the spectrum to the other. ISU is 2-0 for the first time since 1999, but its wins were at home versus Division II Dixie State and Western State. Now the Bengals venture into the FBS Top 25—the Huskies are ranked 17th in AP and 20th in the Coaches Poll. Idaho State quarterback Justin Arias will make national news if he comes anywhere close to what he did in the first two games. Arias, as the new Bengals starter, threw for 439 yards against Dixie and 429 versus Western.
Ryan Clady’s worst fears have been realized. After starting 82 consecutive regular season games (and three more in the playoffs) at left tackle for Denver, the former Boise State great will miss the first game of his career Monday night—and won’t play another one until at least next September. The Lisfranc injury to Clady’s left foot will require surgery, and Denver has placed him on season-ending injured reserve. We all know now that a Lisfranc injury involves a separation of ligaments and joints in the mid-foot area. It’s a blow for Clady, who along with Peyton Manning was voted by teammates as a Denver captain this season for the first time in his career.
The final tournament of the PGA Tour season, the Tour Championship, starts today, and something good will happen for Graham DeLaet. It may just be in the form of another nice paycheck, since there are only 30 players in the finale and their will be no cut. But what a perfect time it would be for the former Boise State star’s first PGA Tour victory. DeLaet’s No. 7 in the FedExCup standings going into the championship, so—according to the PGA Tour—a win would earn him the FedExCup if 1) No. 1 Tiger Woods finishes in a three-way tie for second or worse, and 2) No. 2 Henrik Stenson finishes tied for second or worse. Of course, DeLaet’s up against the best of the best in Atlanta.
Stephen Fife was handed the keys to what could have been ceremonious ride in Phoenix last night. Fife got the start for the Dodgers, who needed only to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks to clinch the National League West. But the D-Backs jumped on the Borah High grad with two runs in the first and chased him with two more in the third, eventually beating the Dodgers 9-4. It was Fife’s first start since August 4, when he got a win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. In three appearances since then, his ERA has jumped from 2.47 to 3.86.
If you have designs on playing pro hockey or basketball, this is your weekend. The Idaho Steelheads are holding their first-ever free agent camp Saturday and Sunday. More than 50 players will be trying to catch the eye of coach Brad Ralph, shooting for an invitation to the Steelheads’ training camp next month. Hopefuls will be divided into three teams, coached by former Steelheads Jeremy Yablonski and Kory Scoran and team public address announcer Britt Talbert. The weekend will wrap up with a “Camp Showcase Game” Sunday morning in CenturyLink Arena (yes, the Steelies’ ice is already set to go). Meanwhile, the Idaho Stampede conduct their annual open tryouts for free agents Saturday at their practice facility at the Boys & Girls Club of Ada County. Players there will also be looking for training camp invitations.
This Day In Sports…September 19, 1943:
The birthday of a key cog of the Big Red Machine. Joe Morgan was Cincinnati’s second baseman during the Reds’ great run in the 1970s. He led Cincy to World Series titles in 1975 and 1976 and was named National League Most Valuable Player each year. Morgan played the first nine seasons of his career with the Houston Astros, known as the Colt .45’s when he signed with them as an undrafted free agent in 1962. He went on to a long broadcasting career with ESPN. Joe Morgan…70 years old today.
(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.)