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Defense defines another victory

Defense defines another victory

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on November 12, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 12 at 8:42 AM


Monday, November 12, 2012.

The tailspin that is the 2012 Hawaii football season ran into a team bent on reversing course from a sobering experience, and the latter’s course was reversed.  Boise State ignored the tropical sunshine and dead Aloha Stadium atmosphere to drill the downtrodden Warriors Saturday, 49-14.  The defense was at the core of the rout, holding Hawaii to 75 yards until late in the third quarter when the second and third teams came in.  It's hard to compare the Boise State defense this November with last November’s struggles, because TCU really skewed—or should I say—skewered those numbers a year back.  But I'd venture to say the current Bronco defense would stack up favorably with that of one season ago.  And that's with the well-chronicled nine new starters this season.  And, right now, a couple new ones on top of that.

Boise State is in the midst of an eight-game streak that has seen it shut out opposing offenses seven times in the first half.  It started with that defensive masterpiece against BYU, and it's actually getting better again.  Saturday the Broncos allowed only 67 first-half yards at Aloha Stadium after yielding only 96 to San Diego State the week before.  Interestingly enough, the worst first half came against winless Southern Miss, as Boise State gave up 266 yards before the intermission.  And the Broncos still held the Golden Eagles scoreless.  Boise State is now eighth in the nation in scoring defense at just over 14 points per game.  And the Broncos have still allowed only two touchdown passes all season, fewest in the country.  Only one of those has come from a quarterback, Fresno State’s Derek Carr a month ago.

Aaron Burks finally had his breakout game Saturday, with five catches for 107 yards and a 46-yard touchdown reception from Joe Southwick.  It was Burks’ first 100-yard game, and the TD was the first of his career.  That also marked a breakout game for Boise State—the team's first 100-yard receiving game of the season, coming in week 10.  Bronco pass-catchers had a modest five 100-yard games last season, but in 2009 and 2010 they racked up 10 and eight, respectively, when Titus Young and Austin Pettis were together and on fire.

Boise State special teams rode a rollercoaster on the Islands.  You had Chris Potter's 37-yard punt return, then Hawaii's Mike Edwards going 100 yards on a kickoff return the other way.  That was followed by Trevor Harman’s 16-yard shanked punt.  Then came Josh Borgman recovering a fumbled punt to set up a Bronco touchdown.  But that was followed by a holding call on Boise State to negate another nice Potter punt return.  Harman ran 21 yards on a fake punt—actually I guess you'd call it an option punt—and another Bronco TD ensued.  The next time out, though, the Broncos took a delay of game in punt formation on their own 21-yard line.  But you know...they won the game.

Boise State is still outside the BCS Standings, coming in 27th this week.  The Broncos continue to get hammered by the computers, as their composite ranking among the six participating services is down to 40.75.  Boise State did jump up to 22nd in the Coaches Poll while staying 23rd in the Harris Poll.  The Broncos also moved up in the line to get back in the AP Poll; they’re now five spots back.  Among those teams also receiving votes in the various polls are San Diego State, Fresno State, Utah State and—brace yourself—San Jose State.

And then there were three.  Fresno State drubbed Nevada 52-36, and San Diego State dominated Air Force 28-9 Saturday to remain tied with Boise State atop the Mountain West standings.  The Bulldogs turned the Wolf Pack offense inside out, scoring three defensive touchdowns at frigid Mackay Stadium.  Two of them came on a fumble and an interception by Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo.  The loss eliminated the Pack from the championship race.  In San Diego, the Falcons outgained the Aztecs 393-268, but Air Force lost two fumbles and had two interceptions that led to 21 points.  The Broncos’ next opponent, Colorado State, romped over UNLV, 33-11.

There was nothing shocking about Idaho’s 52-13 loss at BYU Saturday night.  The Vandals were 38-point underdogs and lost by 39 in Jason Gesser’s second game as interim coach, as the Cougars scored touchdowns on their first three drives and didn’t look back.  Idaho helped with five turnovers, giving it 32 for the season, the most in the FBS.  The Vandals can say they did something against BYU that Boise State didn’t: they scored an offensive touchdown when Logan Bushnell hit Mike Scott for a 33-yard score.  But Cougar quarterback Riley Nelson had the edge on Senior Night, going 19-of-31 for 236 yards and three TDs.  Idaho returns to the Kibbie Dome this Saturday for its final home game against UT San Antonio.

Tampa Bay didn’t lean on Doug Martin as much yesterday, but he still contributed, and the Buccaneers still won, 34-24 over San Diego.  The former Boise State star rushed for 68 yards on 19 carries and caught three passes for 51 yards.  Martin’s 42-yard first-quarter reception set up the Bucs’ first touchdown.  He’s now just 138 yards away from a 1,000-yard season in this, his rookie year.

Elsewhere, Austin Pettis played a part in the NFL’s first tie game in four years.  The Boise State product caught a two-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 left in the game to give St. Louis a 24-21 lead in San Francisco.  But the 49ers knotted the game up on a David Akers field goal with three seconds remaining, and it stayed 24-24 all the way through the overtime period.  Pettis went out in the overtime with an injury.  Boise State grad Quintin Mikell led the Rams with 10 tackles, eight of them solo.  Also, former Bronco Shea McClellin left early in Chicago’s game against Houston last night with a concussion.

After trailing 12-11 early, Boise State slowly pulled away in the first half and coasted in the second half, opening the hoops season with an 81-63 win over Texas Southern yesterday at Taco Bell Arena.  The Broncos put together a 24-6 run late in the first half to take control of the game.  Derrick Marks began his sophomore year with an extraordinarily solid box score line: 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.  “The thing I’m most pleased about is he has only two turnovers and makes all his free throws,” said coach Leon Rice on his KBOI postgame show.  Four other players were in double-figures for Boise State: Kenny Buckner, Anthony Drmic, Ryan Watkins and Mikey Thompson.  BSU was strong inside, out-rebounding Texas Southern 42-26.  The Broncos are home again tomorrow night when they host Oakland University.

The Idaho Stampede’s training camp opens today, with the literally well-traveled Ed Flory overseeing the nuts and bolts.  Flory was named the Stampede’s Director of Basketball Operations in September as the Portland Trail Blazers took over the Stamps’ basketball side.  What an interesting background.  Flory was an assistant with the Stampede seven years ago.  After that, among other things, he coached The Community School in Sun Valley from 2008-10 and was head coach at Penn State Mont Alto from 2010-11. Then there’s swimming.  Flory was an NCAA Division II national champion and 15-time coaches All-American at Kutztown University.  Flory also trained for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow (the U.S. boycotted those Summer Games).

If the Idaho Steelheads can win two in every three-game series this season, they’re going to be in pretty good shape.  The Steelheads finished that task Saturday night with a 5-4 victory over Bakersfield after falling to the Condors 3-2 Friday night, with both games ending in shootouts.  The Steelies had to rally from a pair of two-goal deficits Saturday, and with that their unbeaten streak in regulation moved to 10 consecutive games.  Kael Mouillierat scored two more goals over the weekend, bringing his team-leading total to eight.  Catch Mouillierat while you can, because AHL clubs are taking notice.  Tristan King was activated from injured reserve in time for Friday night’s game—he scored goals in both games as well.  The Steelheads remain home Wednesday night for their only CenturyLink game of the season against the Stockton Thunder.

This Day In Sports…November 12, 2010:

In Boise State’s final trip to the Kibbie Dome, the Broncos burst out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and rout Idaho, 52-14, for a school-record 23rd consecutive victory.  Chris Potter began the fireworks with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in the opening minute, and kicker Kyle Brotzman contributed 10 points on the night to become the WAC’s career scoring leader.  It was BSU’s 12th straight victory over the Vandals, matching Idaho’s streak in the series from 1982-93.  The game was on ESPN2, the first time a national telecast has ever originated from the Dome.

(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.)